By Jodi Torpey
It's time to think green this spring. That may mean settling for a lawn that’s a little brown around the edges.
There are many steps you can take to create a more natural and sustainable landscape. Here are my top 5 tips for a greener garden:
Try organic fertilizers. Natural organic fertilizers, such as corn gluten meal, are safe to use around pets and people. They add nitrogen and perform best when applied in early spring and summer. Because corn gluten meal is a preemergent weed control, you need to apply it before weed seeds germinate or it will fertilize weeds too.
Rethink gas-powered tools. You can choose quieter, emission-free alternatives for just about every gas-guzzling lawn mower, leaf blower and weed eater. Reel push mowers don’t use gas or oil and help reduce air pollution every time you use them.
Go natural for weed control. The best way to keep weeds from sprouting is to mulch flowerbeds and maintain a thick, healthy lawn. Pulling or digging weeds is a traditional way to get rid of weeds, but the new foliar sprays are less work, and they kill most grassy and broadleaf weeds with a single application. They also won’t affect soil biology.
Nontoxic herbicides can be as just as effective as those containing glyphosate, but they contain ingredients that include clove oil, vinegar, citric acid and lecithin.
Control pests naturally. Attracting birds and beneficial insects to the garden is an all-natural insect control method, so avoid using synthetic chemical pesticides that harm those good guys. The Bug Blaster offers a simple alternative to chemical sprays for controlling aphids, whiteflies, mealy bugs and spider mites. This sprayer’s nozzle attaches to a garden hose and creates a 360-degree blast of water to wash bugs from the undersides and tops of leaves at the same time.
Reduce outdoor water use. You can have a beautiful landscape without overspending your water budget. There are many ways to conserve water, for example: having a smaller lawn, planting water-wise gardens, adjusting automatic sprinkler systems to the weather, adding an evapotranspiration (ET) controller, and simply using less water outside.