How to Create an Eco-Friendly Backyard

| Summer

When we tend to our yards, we oftentimes forget that our landscaping can have a sustainable impact on our homes! Living sustainably does not have to be expensive or hard. Sometimes, adding a sustainable element to your landscape can help you save home energy and reduce environmental pollution. Gardening has numerous health benefits, so why not make sure those healthy benefits go both ways? If you're looking into adding a holistic element to your already beautiful backyard, check out these tips!

backyard fence

Grow native. Adding plants that grow natively in your region will reduce how much upkeep you need to expend on them! These plants that are already adapted to your area will attract beneficial insects, and naturally require less maintenance and pesticides to keep them alive. You don't have to exclude exotic plants altogether, but adding native greenery can help increase your garden's sustainability. For information on using native plants in your garden, check out the U.S. EPA's Greenacres list of native fauna!

Add certain types of trees. Deciduous shade trees planted on the east and west sides of your home can help block the sun during the summer months, reducing how much you use the air conditioning. Evergreen trees planted for the winter months can help block cold winds from entering the cracks in your house. Evergreens are usually planted on the north and west sides of houses to create a natural windbreaker. For more information about planting the right trees in the right places, click here!

deciduous trees

Reduce chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Be proactive in your fight against weeds and pests, but to reduce pollution, consider some organic alternatives to chemicals. This will reduce what could be harmful wastewater runoff. By using organic fertilizers, you will be creating a healthy environment for your family to live in.

Use a reel mower. Gas-powered lawn mowers are certainly more time-efficient, but add to your carbon footprint and make lots of noise. To get some great exercise and still trim your yard, use a reel mower which is cleaner and much more efficient. You'll sacrifice speed but add sweat. If your yard is too large to invest that much time, consider an electric mower like this one!

push mower

Use rain barrels. This should be an easy step in the process. Grab a few barrels and set them outside. Rainwater is soft water that is chemical-free. Cut back on your water consumption by storing rainwater in these barrels and using it to irrigate your garden whenever you need!

Compost. Composting can be employed for the most practical reason: to reduce how much waste you generate! By composting, you are mimicking how the earth recycles itself. Your leaves, grass clippings, banana peels, garden trimmings and any food scraps can be added to a compost pile. When this variety of materials is mixed together in a pile and is kept moist and aerated, the earth's recycling process accelerates. This material turns into active organic matter: a crumbly soil that is rich in fungi, bacteria and enzymes! Adding this organic matter to your garden will supply it with a bounty of nutrients! Mother Earth News gives some great tips on starting your first composting pile.

>> Don't forget about your sprouts! Teach your kids to garden with you.

compost pile

Garden indoors. By doing the hard work and harvesting some herbs yourself, you will save money and increase your holistic living. Indoor gardens can be started easily by using old plastic bottles or PVC pipes, so you can recycle in style. Check out this Skinny Mom story on urban gardening.

>> Read more: Best Plants for Clean Air in Your Home

By employing one or a few of these techniques, you will create a beautiful landscape that is easy on the eyes and on the environment!