By Julie Martens Forney
Usually, “green footprint” refers to a building’s ecological impact. But if we gardeners can have green thumbs, why can’t we leave green footprints? Many aspects of gardening offer opportunities to tread lightly on the environment.
Plant a Tree
Planting a tree is a terrific way to increase home value and leave a green footprint. A young tree absorbs 13 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. Let that tree mature 10 years, and it releases enough oxygen to support two people. Learn about other ways to tread lightly on the earth.
If fresh is best, locally grown is better—not just for the dinner table, but also when it comes to leaving a green footprint. Consuming locally grown food reduces carbon emissions and fuel consumption. What’s more local than your own backyard? Grow foods your family craves, along with those that store well. Homegrown raspberries are a low-maintenance fruit that’s easy to freeze, make into jam, or home can.
Dodge the landfill by recycling leaves as mulch. Chopped leaves make an ideal cover for bare soil, allowing water to penetrate easily. Leaves also provide great winter mulch around perennial crowns. Recycling leaves is easy—run the mower over them, catching the pieces in a bag attachment. Another option is adding them to your compost pile after you chop them.
Drip irrigation is the way to go for water conservation. Get your feet wet by creating your own system using recycled gallon jugs punctured with small holes. This drip irrigation hack works best for perennials and small shrubs. I also use it to deliver water in spots where it’s tough to get the hose.
The secret to leaving a green footprint lies in taking small steps—you don’t have to embrace big lifestyle changes. One at a time, each step contributes to a lifelong journey that treads lightly on the earth. Why not start your trek today?
Be kind to Earth. Follow the lead of our 10 regional gardening contributors and leave a smaller environmental footprint.Learn More