and a few sturdy shrubs by the deck, or a full-scale, blowsy English
garden of roses, perennials and vegetables. Our little patches of
green tend to be our personal sanctuaries and play spaces – away
from the stresses of the world.
Well, for our gardens to be our sanctuaries, it would be best if they
were health-inducing – and that means eco-friendly. Here’s some tips
for “green” landscaping to improve your outdoor living this summer:
•Begin with the trees. Your trees are your best landscaping asset.
Deciduous trees let winter sun into your house when you need it
most, and shield you from the sweltering rays of summer. If your
house is blessed with shade, you’re already a leafy 10 degrees
cooler than properties exposed to full sun. Mature trees provide the
best air conditioning possible -- clean, free, and majestic! Evergreens
planted on the north side of your home will help stave off the winter
chill. There are other important health benefits to trees, too: all types
of trees will clean the air around you. It’s no surprise that many
homeowners are paying big bucks for big trees. But if you start
planting now, before you know it (with patience and minimal care).
you too can enjoy the many benefits that trees freely offer.
•Birds and bees. Butterflies and ladybugs too. You want to attract
all sorts of good creatures to your garden for pest control. Birds
love thick shrubbery, shallow birdbaths, native plantings, and fruit,
nut and seed-bearing plants. They also love to have a little trickle of
water. A small pump will help create the best effect: the slightest
stream of water flowing into a shallow plate or rock depression.
Provide butterflies with sheltered sunny spots filled with brightly
coloured blooms, and a flat warm rock for butterfly sunbathing.
Bees love nectar-producing flowers, ladybugs love Queen Anne’s
Lace, and all of these treasures thrive in a chemical free environment.
These are the creatures that will help establish a healthy, happy
garden – and protect your plants from the nasty pests.
•Go native. Nurseries offering indigenous plants are springing up
everywhere now, making it easier for you to find native plants.
There are all kinds of reasons for showcasing hardy native plantings
in your garden they are generally pest and disease free, resistant to drought, and attractive to beneficial wildlife. Queen Anne’s Lace,
tansy, all sorts of daisies and lilies – the roll call of our native plants
is impressively long and beautiful.
•Roll out the barrel. We’re talking rain barrels here -- ideally
several for maximum water collection. The volume of water captured
after an even seemingly brief rainfall will surprise you. Your plants
will be happier with warm untreated water instead of the freezing
cold chlorinated water that comes out of your garden hoses -- and
you’ll save on your water bill too.
•Black gold. Start composting now and by next year you will have
the most amazingly rich black stuff to sprinkle onto your lawn and
flowerbeds. Many communities offer plastic compost barrels, but it
is more efficient (and aesthetically pleasing) to build a wooden
three-solid-sided unit with a slatted moveable front piece. Just
remember not to put in any animal by-products -- most kitchen and
garden waste (not weeds) is acceptable. Keep your compost pile
slightly moist (positioning it in a shaded spot helps) and poke a stick
in it once in a while. That’s it.
•Acceptable pest and weed control. Synthetic garden chemicals
do your garden no favours – upsetting the balance of healthy soil,
earthworms, good insects, birds and other creatures. Declare a
no-chemical season in your garden. Kill weeds with vinegar, or a
dose of boiling water. Use soapy sprays to control aphids, and
diatomaceous earth to stop slugs. Put up a bat box a bat will eat
thousands of mosquitoes, and don’t deserve their Halloween-y
reputation. Garden-friendly insects such as ladybugs and praying
mantis will patrol for a range of problem insects. Physical trapping is
also good (i.e. dishes of beer for slugs etc.) Don’t hesitate to use the
good old methods of hosing off, and squashing too!
•Mr. Toad. A clay toad-house or other cool spot may attract a
toad: one of your garden’s best friends.
•Push mower renaissance. Remember the delightful “clackety”
sound of your grandfather’s old push mower? Cancel your gym
membership for the summer: low-tech and clean, push mowers cut
your grass efficiently, quietly, and give you a bit of a workout too.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.