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Mid-Atlantic Gardening: Create a Smaller Ecological Footprint

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Sustainable gardening practices are easy grow-green ways that don’t cost a fortune.

Growing your own red raspberries conserves fossil fuels.
Straw mulch helps improve the soil.

By Julie A. Martens

Simple, inexpensive steps can help shrink your ecological footprint. For instance growing edible crops, such as raspberries, herbs and vegetables, saves the fossil fuel it takes to drive to a store to buy those same items, and to transport those items from growing fields to store. Discover other ways you can embrace sustainable gardening practices.

Mulch. Make mulch a priority. When you mulch planting beds you water and weed less. If you use organic materials that break down, such as straw or shredded bark, over time you’ll improve soil. Soil rich in organic matter requires less water and fertilizer, which is another aspect of sustainable gardening.

My neighbors split the cost and share the benefit of mushroom compost.

Carpool. I reduce my ecological footprint by organizing an informal neighborhood co-op for garden purchases. When I get straw bales I also pick up for gardening neighbors, so we’re not all burning fossil fuel. When I order mushroom compost, the truck driver makes several stops on our street.

My neighbors and I split the delivery fee, saving money and fuel. Those efforts also cultivate a sense of small-town neighborliness.

Stones and river rock create a permeable surface for my roadside planting.

Permeable Surfaces. Another tenet of green gardening is to slow storm water runoff, so it can soak into soil and recharge the local water table. Permeable surfaces can help. I interspersed native stones and small river rock along the street edge of my cottage garden to create a permeable surface.

A dry creek directs storm water runoff to where it’s needed.

I also used native stone and pea gravel to build a dry creek, which captures and directs other storm water runoff from my front yard to the back.

Slowing storm water runoff shrinks your ecological footprint; in some communities it’s the law.

Local Materials. Using native materials, such as stone foraged on site, also shrinks an ecological footprint. Instead of burning fossil fuel to buy rock, I burn calories, digging and hauling stones from one end of the yard to the other.

When I need to purchase gravel, I combine that trip with several other errands in the same vicinity, saving money and fuel.

More Green Gardening Ideas. Want to discover more ways to reduce your ecological footprint and garden green? Check out: