Go Green in the Garden
Spring has sprung — which means many of us will be embarking on home gardening and landscaping projects.
Sustainable gardening practices — which provide tremendous environmental and economic benefits — have become more important than ever as the state faces its worst drought in decades.
Here are some easy ways to save water, reduce waste and improve soil in your gardens:
1. Mulch. This is a soil covering used to control weeds or erosion, retain moisture in soil and insulate soil in cold weather. Organic materials commonly used for mulch include wood chips, ground-up landscape trimmings, shredded bark, coarse compost material, straw, and shredded paper. Spreading mulch several inches thick over your outdoor site will keep out weeds. In the summer, mulch is an especially effective way to conserve irrigation water.
2. Composting. This is the controlled decomposition of organic materials such as leaves, twigs, grass clippings, and food scraps — it’s nature’s way of recycling! The best way to compost food waste is to mix it with dry leaves, sticks and twigs, wood chips, sawdust, dried/dead plants, shredded newspaper, or paper from a home shredder, along with yard waste such as grass clippings. It will need to be “turned” about once a week by fluffing the pile with a pitchfork to give it air. In most California climates, the compost is ready in three to six months, when it becomes a dark crumbly material that is uniform in texture. Spread it in the garden, raised beds or under and around plants. The compost can also be used as potting soil.
3. Grasscycle. This is the natural recycling of grass by leaving clippings on the lawn when mowing. Grass clippings decompose quickly, returning valuable nutrients back to the soil. It reduces turf grass fertilizer and water requirements, which minimize chemical runoff entering storm drains and polluting creeks, rivers, and lakes. Similar to mulching, it’s also an effective way of conserving water.
4. Xeriscape. This means landscaping with slow-growing, drought tolerant plants to conserve water and reduce yard trimmings. Landscapes need to be planned to be compatible with locally available resources, including water, soil types, and sunlight. Xeriscapes generally require less fertilizer and fewer pest control measures than traditional landscapes, and as a result, cost less money.
For more green gardening tips, visit http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/Organics/.