Going Green? Try These Ten Steps to a Better Garden and Backyard
Going green is the newest trend worldwide with many people taking steps to reduce their environmental footprint and try to create sustainable practices as opposed to the wasteful living many of us are guilty of now. One of the best places to start is in the garden and backyard. Traditionally, these are areas where a lot of harsh chemicals are used to kill weeds and ensure a healthy lawn, but at what cost? There are plenty of ways to have a beautiful garden and enviable backyard decor while also doing our part for the environment.
1. Use Natural Sunlight
One way to begin is to use the very source of light nature provides us. Purchasing solar powered lights allows us to save energy, using them to store light by day for use at night. Depending on the theme of the backyard dÃ©cor, they can be purchased to resemble rocks or other natural objects, or purchased on strings and used in artistic ways to provide a warm glow around patios, gazeboes or other areas. And of course, adding a motion sensor means they only activate when you need them.
2. A Good Reason to Cook Outdoors
The best reason to cook outdoors during the summer is that it saves energy. Everyone knows how a hot kitchen means turning up the AC, but by firing up the barbecue, you not only save energy indoors, but you can enjoy an occasional outdoor evening meal with the family. Add to that a tastefully (and Green!) furnished outdoor dining area and dinner can become a special experience.
3. Natural Decor is Better
The more natural your patio, backyard, and garden decorations look, the more appealing to the eye they will be. Don’t use metal chairs that can rust, for example. Natural woods like cedar look beautiful and age well. And since they are naturally durable, you can avoid using dangerous paints, sealants, and other chemicals. Just remember to use wood that has been harvested in an environmentally conscious fashion and don’t forget also that rocks can be used to great effect in the backyard or garden to accent other decor.
4. Use Local Flora for Your Garden and Backyard
Another sustainable way to take care of your garden and backyard is to use local flora instead of paying extra for trees and plants from other areas. This is because, since they are acclimated to the temperature and rainfall, they will require much less watering and maintenance, and they will provide shelter for birds and other local wildlife. And attracting birds and butterflies will enhance your garden’s beauty. Speaking of beauty, don’t overlook the artful placement of rocks to highlight areas of your backyard.
5. Minimize Your Lawn
The American obsession with having the perfect lawn is slowly fading away as the price for such extravagance becomes clear. Many native plants were considered weeds and dangerous chemicals were used to get rid of them. But that is changing gradually. You can do your part by allowing native plants to grow alongside the grass, filling out your lawn and still keeping it green and beautiful. A mixed lawn will require less maintenance and can still be mowed and trimmed as desired.
6. Adding Water as a Soothing Touch
What garden or backyard design would be complete without water added into it? A soothing fountain can become a beautiful place to gather one’s thoughts and relax, and by making sure it is solar powered, it too will be a green and environmentally friendly addition. Another possibility is a fish pond. They are inexpensive to install and can quickly become the favored place for outdoor gatherings as well as quiet contemplation.
7. Use Wood Grown Responsibly
One such variety of wood is red cedar, which can be used in a variety of ways, from patio deck work to furniture, both indoors as well as in the garden and backyard. It easily resists rot and decay, and any wood that is raised on a tree farm on in a similar fashion reduces environmental waste and contributes to a sustainable and renewable environment.
8. Looking at the Long Term
Always consider the long term lifespan of the products you purchase. If poorly made and low quality, it will wear out before you know it and end up contributing to more trash in a landfill. Even recyclable goods require an investment in energy and materials to be effective, so the best alternative is to purchase products that are of good long lasting quality. Ideally, you would want to be able to give items away when you’re finished with them, and they may even increase in value. Also, when making room to redecorate, don’t throw things away. Instead organize a sale or donate them.
9. Avoid Dating Your Decor
Another thing to keep in mind is to be careful when shopping for larger items or deciding on the overall design of your backyard and garden decor. The last thing you want is to choose items that in a few years will make your furnishings look like something out of an old movie. When shopping for items like porch umbrellas, picnic tables, etc. choose the ones that are classic in design and unlikely to lose their appeal. Wooden porch swings, for example, never go out of style and enhance the enjoyment of any outdoor design. Keeping these ideas in mind will give you a timeless and enjoyable environment that can be enjoyed for generations.
10. And Don’t Forget the Five R’s For the Green Enthusiast
Reduce, reuse, recycle, repair, and redecorate. These are the words to live by if you are truly interested in changing to a greener lifestyle. So much of our culture is geared towards being disposable that we forget that so many things we have can be repaired and reused. Sometimes all that is needed is a simple repair or a new cushion to make something as good as new. Always keep an eye out for furnishings that are recyclable or easily repaired or refinished so that you can keep it for as long as possible. And don’t forget, when redecorating, sell or give away the old; don’t simply toss it in the trash.
The switch to a greener lifestyle is a step towards helping to heal the environment one step at a time. The changes aren’t difficult at all, since all it takes is a little more awareness when you shop and an eye for the long term impact of your purchases. And by teaching out children these lessons, we can insure that these practices will continue on in future generations.
Jay Chua, an outdoorsman and nature enthusiast, lives in Vancouver, Canada with his wife Deisy. Jay enjoyed relaxing on his hatteras rope hammock when not tending to the organic fruit trees at his yard. He also likes sharing what he knows about using green practices to decorate the garden and backyard. His website PorchSwingSets.comprovides a wide array of options that keep green and durability in mind.