Found on our Clergy Assistance Program website - Chestnut (written by the EPA)
What is Greenscaping? GreenScaping encompasses a set of landscaping practices that can improve the health and appearance of your lawn and garden while protecting and preserving natural resources. By simply changing your landscape to a GreenScape, you can save time and money and protect the environment.
How do you do it? Save time by landscaping with plants that require less care Save money by eliminating unnecessary water and chemical use Protect the environment by:
- Conserving water supplies.
- Using chemicals properly and only when necessary to keep waterways and drinking water clean.
- Reducing yard waste by recycling yard trimmings into free fertilizerPut nature to workin your yard
In nature, soil recycles dead plants into nutrients for new plant growth. Plants are adapted to the water, sun and soil available in their site. Maintaining a wide variety of healthy plants, soil organisms, beneficial insects and animals can keep most pests and diseases in check.
By working with nature, you can have a great-looking yard that’s easier
to care for, cheaper
to maintain and healthier
for families, pets, wildlife and the environment. How?
Start with these five easy steps:
1. Build and maintain healthy soil
A teaspoonful of healthy soil contains about 4 billion organisms! This community of beneficial soil creatures keeps our landscapes healthy by:
- Creating a loose soil structure that allows air, water and plant root growth into the soil
- Recycling nutrients and making them available to plants
- Storing water until plants need it.
- Protecting plants from some pests and diseases.
2. Know what your soil needs
. A soil test will tell you how much nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and lime your soil needs to grow healthy plants.
3. Feed your soil with compost
. Dig or rototill one to three inches of compost into 6 to 12 inches of top soil when you’re making new beds or planting lawns. Top dress existing lawns with a quarter- to half-inch of compost every spring or fall.
4. Make compost at home, or buy it in bags or bulk.
Leaves, chopped stalks, flowers and grass all make great compost in a pile or bin. Vegetable scraps and coffee grounds can also be added to your bin, but do not use meat, dairy or oils because they can attract pests. You should turn your compost every few weeks with a pitchfork to distribute air and moisture. Make sure to sprinkle water on your pile in dry weather. In most climates, you will have finished compost in three to six months, when the waste becomes a dark, crumbly material that is uniform in texture.
5. Mulch it!
Mulch stabilizes soil temperature, prevents weeds, feeds the soil for healthier plants and helps to conserve water. And it recycles itself! Mulch improves:
- Flower beds and vegetable gardens Use one to three inches of shredded leaves, compost or grass clippings that have not been treated with pesticides.
- Trees, shrubs and woody perennials Use two to three inches of woody mulches, like shredded tree bark or aged wood chips. Shredded fall leaves also work well. Be sure to keep mulches an inch away from plant stems or trunks to prevent rot.
- Lawns Mulch your lawn? Yes, you can “grasscycle” (leave the clippings on the lawn when mowing). The clippings quickly decompose and release valuable nutrients back into the soil to feed the grass, reducing the need for nitrogen by 25 to 50 percent. Need fertilizer?
*** Improper use of fertilizers can damage beneficial soil life essential for healthy soils and plants.
- Plant right for your site
- Get to know your yard and decide how you want to use it. Where is it sunny or shady? What is the pH of your soil? What type of soil (e.g., sandy, clay) do you have in your yard? Look around — are there plants with problems? Where do you want play areas, vegetables, color, views or privacy? How much lawn do you need or want to maintain?
- Choose the right plant for the right place. Select plants that grow well in your area of the country and fit the amount of sun, type of soil and water available in your yard. In general, it makes sense to use low-water plants to save yourself the time and expense of watering. Think about how big a tree or shrub will be when mature (especially next to your house or driveway and near power lines). Pick plants that resist pests.
- Make space for wildlife. You can invite birds, butterflies and other wildlife into your yard, protect streams and fish, and make a more attractive landscape.
- Consider planting native trees and plants, especially ones with berries, fruit and flowers.
- Plant in layers (ground cover, shrubs and trees) so your landscape is like the forest.
- Don’t plant invasive species — check with your local Cooperative Extension office for a list of invasive “noxious weeds.”
- Minimize potential harm to birds, beneficial insects and fish by using pesticides only when necessary and using them properly.
- Read the label and follow instructions carefully whenever you use a pesticide.
- Provide a bird bath or other small water source. Make sure you change the water every couple of days so your bird bath doesn’t become a mosquito breeding ground.
- Leave wild “buffer” areas of native plants along ravines, streams, shorelines and fencelines.
3. Practice smart watering
- There is such a thing as “Too much of a good thing (water).” Did you know that watering too much or too little is the cause of many common plant problems? You can have healthier plants, save money on water bills and conserve precious water resources by learning to give your lawn and garden just what they need, and no more. Water deeply, but infrequently. Footprints remaining after you walk across the lawn indicates that it’s time to water.
- Make every drop count. Some easy ways to lower water bills and get more water to plants include: Build your soil with compost and mulch to hold water and reduce evaporation. Choose low-water-use plants. Once established, they can often thrive just on rainfall. Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation on beds — they can save 50 percent or more compared with sprinklers. Use an outdoor water timer (available at garden stores) to water just the right amount, frequency and time of day. Water lawns separately from other plantings. Make sure sprinklers aren’t watering the pavement. When soil is dry or compacted, it won’t absorb water quickly. If water puddles, stop watering a while and then restart so the water has time to soak in. Water in the early morning — if you water at mid-day, much of the water just evaporates. Evening watering should be avoided because it can encourage the growth of mold or plant diseases.
4. Adopt a holistic approach to pest management
- Start with prevention. Maintain healthy soil with compost and mulch.
- Select pest-resistant plants and put them in the sun/shade and soil conditions they like.
- Use a variety of plants so, if pests attack, your whole garden isn’t at risk.
- Mow higher. Most grasses should be mowed to a height of two to three inches. Taller grass has more leaf surface and deeper roots and eventually chokes out many weeds.
- Clean out diseased plants so disease doesn’t spread. Pull weeds before they go to seed and spread.
- Remove dead plants to reduce hiding places for insect pests.
- Most bugs are good bugs. Only about 5– 15 percent of the bugs in your yard are pests. “Good bugs,” like the ladybug and the praying mantis, help control pests.
5 Practice natural lawn care
- Mow higher, mow regularly and leave the clippings
- Use “natural organic” or “slow-release” fertilizers
- Water deeply, but infrequently, to moisten the whole root zone
- Overseeding can improve the quality of your lawn
*** Lawn care practices are often targeted by watershed managers as significant contributors of pesticides and nutrients to run-off.