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Environmental Pollution and Landscaping

Reduce Environmental Pollution Using Compost Bins, Other Organic Ideas

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Picture of a compost bin.

A "volunteer" growing out of the compost bin.

David Beaulieu

On Page 1 we considered how we can promote energy conservation and water conservation in our landscaping efforts. Now it's time to tackle the equally challenging issues of environmental pollution and the overuse of our landfills. In the context of landscaping, three of the most significant ways to reduce environmental pollution are by cutting back on the use of chemical herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers.

Environmental Pollution: Reducing Chemical Herbicides

One way to reduce usage of chemical herbicides (and thereby reduce environmental pollution) is to take a pro-active approach. Instead of waiting for weeds to arrive and then engaging them in battle, why not take preventive measures? It is precisely such preventive measures that I emphasize in the following resource:

Weed Control Without Chemicals

It was the great American philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson who famously scribed, "What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered." Indeed, another chemical-free approach to weed control is simply to control what may be your own irrational intolerance toward weeds. Taking a cue from Emerson, you may wish to re-evaluate the weeds in your yard, seeing if perhaps you can discover an overlooked "virtue" here or there. Virtue is a very personal matter, so only you can decide. But I will tell you this much: some "weeds" have the virtue of being edible! To learn more, please consult the following resource on edible plants:

Weeds That Are Edible Plants

Environmental Pollution: Reducing Chemical Pesticides

But the use of chemical herbicides is not the only culprit responsible for environmental pollution in landscaping. Our wars against garden pests (whether insects, rodents or others) have been fought just as fiercely as our weed wars, and we've pulled out all the stops. But to reduce environmental pollution, consider alternatives to chemical pesticides.

Reconsider the types of plants you wish to grow on your landscape. Effective deer control, for instance, can begin with selecting plants that aren't especially appealing to deer. Another intriguing alternative that won't contribute even a smidgen to environmental pollution is something called "companion planting." To learn more about companion planting, please consult the following resource:

Companion Planting

Environmental Pollution: Reducing Chemical Fertilizers

Chemical fertilizers round out the "big 3" of environmental pollutants in landscaping. Fortunately, it's very simple for homeowners to switch to a natural approach when it comes to providing the landscape with nutrients.

For instance, did you know that you can be mowing your lawn and fertilizing your lawn simultaneously? Well, you can, at least if you use mulching mowers. With mulching mowers, you can let the grass clippings fall where they may, acting as an organic fertilizer.

If you do not own a mulching mower, all is not lost. In your case, you can compost your grass clippings. But don't stop there. Get into the habit of composting as much as you possibly can. Composting is a terrific way to reduce environmental pollution. You'll also be reducing the amount of unneccessary material being transported into landfills.

Note that compost holds many virtues beyond its ability to fertilize the plants in your yard. Compost also helps with aeration in soil, as well as helping soil retain water better -- so that you won't have to water as much.

  • Got a soil that's too clayey? Add compost: it will help clayey soil drain faster.
  • Got a soil that's too sandy? Add compost: it will help sandy soil retain water longer.

Successful composting depends on the proper mix of "green" material and "brown" material. The former provides nitrogen, the latter carbon. With proper air circulation and moisture in your compost bin, a mix of two parts green to one part brown should decompose fairly quickly.

There's a ready supply of both green and brown materials in the average household. Kitchen scraps such as orange and banana peels, for instance, would be considered "green," while fallen leaves would be "brown." So you can use the leaves you rake in autumn for compost, as well as for a mulch. For more information, please consult the following resource:

Leaf Compost and Mulch

A Final Tip for Reducing Environmental Pollution

Visualize yourself at the local nursery, buying annual plants. You load them in the car, drive home and plant them. What's left behind after planting? All those blasted plastic flats and pots, right? And since annuals last only one year, you'll have the same sort of waste to deal with next year, too, if you stick with annual flowers. One solution is to switch to perennial flowers. Some perennials last many years. In some cases, they even spread readily, giving you new plants for free. To learn more about perennials, please consult the following resource:

Perennial Flowers

Related Video
How to Weed Eat Your Yard
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