As temperatures increase and fresh water supplies decrease, our gardens are becoming a liability we can no longer afford. The costs of creating and maintaining ornamental gardens with large lawns requires so many valuable resources and creates such a large carbon footprint, that many home and business owners are searching for alternatives.
Environmental Impact of Gardening
Each week, 54 million Americans mow their lawns; a feat that requires an astounding 800 million gallons of gas per year and produces 5% of the county’s greenhouse gases. According to the EPA, one gas mower emits 88 lbs. of CO2, and 34 lbs. of other pollutants into the air annually. It’s not just the emissions that wreak havoc with Mother Nature, it’s estimated that 17 million gallons of fuel are spilled each year as gardeners refuel their mowers; more than the Exxon Valdes environmental disaster. Think also of the fuel for hedge trimmers, leaf blowers and chainsaws as well as the pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers which have a huge impact on the food chain, water supply and health of residents.
There are so many ways in which you can reduce the negative environmental impact of your garden. Gardens can be a haven for local wildlife and insects; they can contribute positively to the environment and still provide you with a picturesque oasis.
Avoid using any kind of poisonous chemicals in your garden. Use organic pesticides and herbicides to rid your garden of unwanted weeds or insects. Plant marigolds to fend off insects and use marigold or cedar tea to deter cut worms. Cayenne pepper and peppermint also fend off bugs while lime or salt will get rid of your slug problem. For every insect, there is a natural deterrent you can utilize without compromising your family’s health or contributing to chemical buildup in the ecosystem. Use compost rather than artificial fertilizers.
Reduced-carbon gardening equipment
Push mowers, electric mowers and solar powered mowers all offer great alternatives to the conventional gas lawnmower. The solar powered mower will even take care of the lawn for you and text you if it encounters an obstacle. It’s not just lawn mowers that come in electric or solar powered models, all motorized garden tools come in models that will help you reduce your carbon footprint and prevent fuel spills.
Get rid of your lawn
This doesn’t mean you need to pave your front yard! There are a number of really attractive ground covers that are as robust as lawn, look amazing and require almost no maintenance. Toss out your lawn mower for good and get a great new look for your yard.
Consider converting much of your front garden to vegetables. In many cities, growing veggies in your front garden is strictly prohibited and can even result in jail time. Check first to see if your municipality supports vegetable growing in ornamental gardens. Retain some of your lawn and try to create interesting beds so that your vegetable garden looks attractive and doesn’t spoil the appearance of the neighbourhood. Plant marigolds and other flowering annuals as garden bed borders to improve the appearance of your vegetable garden while acting as natural deterrents to pests.
Invite neighbours to share in your harvests of veggies, fruit and herbs to help garner support for your new garden. Use the garden as an opportunity to educate and promote organic gardens and promote chemical and carbon-free gardening.
Having a garden can provide a welcome, healthy addition to the ecosystem, provide you with a source of organic fruits, vegetables and herbs and reduce your consumption of valuable resources. Turn your garden into an asset rather than a liability for the environment and a chemical threat to your health.