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Experience Life Magazine

7 Ways to Green Your Yard with Less Water

Did you know that inside your home could be five times more polluted than outside? So, don’t just let your yard sit there like a pretty picture while you spend summer inside watching Adam Sandler movies. Your yard can (and should!) transform your home in many ways. Yards improve our quality of life–they’re a place for spending time outdoors and breathing fresh air; they can bring an array of beautiful birds and wildlife; and a yard can boost your property value. But, grassy lawns can use far too much fresh water. Read on for tips on greening your lawn with less water.
Plant a garden. While your fruits and veggies will still need water, you’ll be reducing your dependence on fossil fuels from driving to the supermarket (and ever notice how grocery stores are constantly using sprinklers on the produce there?). Plus, what’s more beautiful than a bountiful garden full of edible colors and shapes that taste way better than supermarket offerings and look far more interesting than grass anyway?
Plant succulents and indigenous plants. That means if you live in Arizona, maybe a green grassy lawn should be replaced with a cactus haven, which needs less water. Drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees don’t need to be watered as often as non-native plants, and they can survive dry periods without watering.
Do all of your watering in the coolest parts of the day, such as early morning or before bed to reduce evaporation. You’ll need to water less.
Especially helpful for new homeowners: Preserve what’s already there. Established plants will adapt to lower water conditions. Trees provide natural shade and can significantly improve the value of your home. Work with the texture and terrain of your yard and you might be really grateful that you didn’t chop it all down for plain old grass.
Adding compost to your soil, such as mulch, will improve its water-holding capacity by keeping moisture in and preventing erosion, soil compression and those dreaded weeds.
If you have grass and don’t see replacing it anytime soon, raise your lawnmower cutting height. Taller grass provides shade, which decreases evaporation. You can also use a timing device that will encourage efficient, scheduled watering that’s best for the landscape.
Supplement your water by installing a grey water system from your washer or a rain catchment system, and collect the cold water from your shower as it heats up. Every drop counts!
Organic Authority is your trusted friend and the web’s leading resource for all things (what else?) organic!

Experience Life Magazine

Organic Gardening 101

by Organic Authority
Defining Our Terms
What, exactly, does “organic” gardening mean? In short: gardening without the use of synthetic (chemical) fertilizers or pesticides.
But there’s much more to it than that. Organic gardening is about understanding nature’s balancing act and using this knowledge to create a landscape burgeoning with safely grown plants that permit a self-sustainable lifestyle.
In truth, your plants are part of a system-one that begins with the soil you use and extends to water supply, insects, wildlife and the “end users” (you and your family). Your job, as an organic gardener, is to construct and maintain this system, replenishing resources your garden consumes for perpetual growth.
Choose plants, trees and greenery suited to the environment-those with the best chance of growing naturally in your particular climate. Opt for vegetation whose natural defenses will keep it healthy, without a great deal of attention or external influences.
To avoid pesticide use, study up on plants that are less prone to attract pests. Seek a consult from a local organic nursery. The trick is to follow nature’s lead and make selections that have the greatest potential for success.
Organic Gardening’s Benefits
In addition to protecting our environment, organic gardening is healthier for humans and animal life. Ingredients in synthetic fertilizers and pesticides pose a variety of health hazards. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that American homeowners use up to 1000% more pesticides on their lawns than farmers apply to crops. Think about it: That’s a truly frightening statistic.
National Cancer Institute studies have linked home and garden pesticides with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the sixth most common cancer in the United States. Researchers have also discovered an association between pesticides and lymphoma in dogs.
There are connections between pesticides and low fertility in men, a higher rate of birth defects in children, pediatric brain cancer, leukemia, neurological disorders, developmental disabilities, allergies, asthma and reproductive problems.
Many lawn pesticides remain active in soil for months-even years-after their application.
Organic Alternatives
Pesticides include insecticides, herbicides and fungicides, which are designed to kill insects, weeds and diseases, respectively. To reduce their use, learn what is-and isn’t-harmful to your garden or lawn.
Many insects, for example, actually encourage lawn and plant growth by eating their more harmful brethren. For problem pests, use the barrier approach: Set up nets, screens and traps. Seventh Generation’s Natural Citrus Cleaner & Degreaser-an organic gardener’s secret weapon-safely kills aphids, whiteflies, fleas, mites, fire ants, houseflies and other pests, both outdoors and inside the home. Made with orange oil, it is completely natural and biodegradable, containing no chlorine, petroleum-based solvents, glycol ethers or dyes.
Some weeds, such as dandelions, forget-me-nots and chickweed, are also advantageous, improving fertility as they decompose and eliminating the need to use herbicides.
Deep-growing weeds like thistle help carry nutrients to the soil surface. If weeds are overrunning your lawn and you need to remove them, pull them out by hand or use a lawnmower.
Focus on alternatives to synthetic fertilizers. For example, you can compost with scraps from your kitchen, leaves, twigs, manure, grass clippings, old potting soil, hedge clippings and dead insects. This reduces waste and sets the stage for a lovely organic garden. Regularly add such organic matter to your soil, and you’ll be amazed by the marked improvement in plant growth.
As with any task or project, deal with problems as they arise. Don’t procrastinate! If, for example, you see signs of mildew or mold on your plants, prune the involved area immediately.
To learn more about safe pest-control methods, check out information from The Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), headquartered in San Francisco.
Also, check out this informative blog entitled No Nutritional Difference Between Conventional and Organic Foods? The Organic Center to the Rescue!
Organic Authority is your trusted friend and the web’s leading resource for all things (what else?) organic!