In winter time, when we look at the snow blanketed landscape, it is easier to realize that all of our individual properties are part of our community and our natural surroundings.
When the snow melts we see once again that we live in a patchwork landscape. While our yard remains connected to the natural world around it, each of us tends to our own little piece of land and calls it home. There are natural landscaping methods that you can use in your yard that will save you money, time and effort while beautifying your yard and helping protect the surrounding environment.
Winter is a good time to learn about natural landscaping techniques so that when it’s time to get out in your yard you feel comfortable using these methods.
The main strategies of natural landscaping involve
- reducing expensive fertilizer and pesticide inputs, while building up the natural ability of your soil to feed your lawn and gardens
- lawn management practices that help your grass outcompete weeds and resist drought, such as mowing high, soil testing and adding organic matter when needed
- observing natural growing conditions in your yard (soil, sun and water availability) and growing plants, often natives, that will thrive there without a lot of care
- reducing loss of water from your yard so that it is retained on site to use as a resource by such methods as mulching, encouraging deep roots on your grass, putting rainbarrels on your downspouts, putting in a raingarden or choosing an alternative to impervious cement when you are putting in new walks, patios or driveways
- providing water, food and habitat for beneficial insects, birds and wildlife which helps you resist pests and diseases in your yard while benefitting nature in your community
- thinking of grass clippings, leaves and rain as resources to be used at home, not as waste
- putting low maintenance ground covers, native plantings or mulch in spots in your yard that will not grow healthy grass
There are many sources of information to help you learn more about all of these techniques and their benefits to both you and your local environment. Below are links to a few of those resources.
Additionally, there is a program sponsored by CT Sea Grant /Long Island Sound Study and the Eastern Connecticut Conservation District at the Bill Library in Ledyard next Wednesday evening, March 6 from 7 PM to 8:30. It will address home landscaping strategies and septic tank maintenance and how they affect water quality in our local waters and Long Island Sound. RSVP by March 3 to Jean.Pillo@ConserveCT.org if you are interested in attending.
EPA pamphlet about healthy lawn and garden techniques http://www.epa.gov/oppfead1/Publications/catalog/greenscaping.pdf
UConn Extension for soil testing information and other gardening tips http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/
Connecticut Sea Grant has a great collection of water wise and native plant publications http://seagrant.uconn.edu/publications/coastalres/index.php
Connecticut Audubon has many useful links about sustainable landscaping http://ct.audubon.org/aah
National Gardening Association has great pictures of beneficial as well as problem insects http://www.garden.org/pestlibrary/