Want a Green Yard? Try these 8 Surprising Tips!

Posted on June 10, 2017

Going into summer, many of us are starting to work on making our yards beautiful and lively for the summer months, but what about making them greener? Not just in colour, but more sustainable, too! There are a lot of tips out there on taking care of your lawn & garden, but maybe these ones might surprise you!

1. Chemical Hazard. Of course Green Calgary suggests that everyone forgo dangerous pesticides and fertilizers, but there are many reasons why these chemicals are bad. They can harm wildlife and ecosystems, even urban ones, and they get caught in our stormwater as runoff. Not only that, but they can harm pets. The worst part is that the chemicals you put on your lawn and in your garden affect everyone else, too.

2. Natural Benefits. All that being said, there are great natural fertilizers, like compost from HOP Compost, and worm castings from our ecoStore. These are not only way safer, but they’re really useful, too. Natural fertilizers also won’t burn your plants like some chemical fertilizers will if you use too much.

3. Bug Wars. You can make your own natural pesticides, too. Soft bodied insects, like aphids, are susceptible to diluted natural soap and water (you want a natural soap that’s high in potassium, which many coconut oil soaps will be). You can also create a weed killer from 5 parts white vinegar, 2 parts water, and 1 part natural soap – spot treat the weeds sparingly.

4. Mowing it Down. Get into the practice of mowing your lawn regularly, but not too short or else the soil can dry out. This way you can also mulch the grass clippings rather than bagging them, and leave them as a natural fertilizer on your lawn. Make sure your mower blades are very sharp, too, as that will keep the grass from tearing when its cut, leaving it healthier and greener.

5. Planning Ahead. When it comes to organizing your yard, having a plan is big. The City of Calgary’s YardSmart program looks at saving water by organizing what you’re planting and where. Additionally, by planting perennial plants, you create an ecosystem around your garden, since other organisms know that the plant will be there year after year!

6. Native Growth. Along with your planning, look to plant some native species of plants. Native species are better adapted to our climate, fit into our ecosystems better, and limit the chances of invasive species taking over. They also support other species, such as our birds.

7. Water Control. Planting to make your garden more water sustainable and native are great steps to take if you’re still in the planning stages of your yard, but whether you’re planning your yard or already have everything planted, managing your water systems is vital to your plants. Much of your yard needs only a little watering to grow. Your lawn, especially, only needs 2.5 centimetres of water a week. So watering sparingly is wise. Also water in the early morning, so that you don't lose the water to evaporation.

8. Rain Barrels are the Answer. It may seem like advice we give frequently, but that's only because of how effective it is. A rain barrel can save 3200 litres of water a year. When you consider that the average Calgarian uses about 900 litres of water in an hour of watering, even one rain barrel only offsets our water usage in the summer a small amount. But that's a meaningful amount. That's a lot of runoff not running off and a lot of fresh water that can be drunk instead. If you get a set of rain barrels, like maybe three in a row, you can reduce that much, much further. Rain barrels also ensure that you can still water during a watering ban. You can still get a Green Calgary rain barrel in a few sales this month.

What did you think of our list? Something we missed? Something that struck you? We'd love to hear what you think about this article and about everything that we do - please talk with us on Twitter or Facebook. If you'd rather, you can also come meet us at the Green Hub, located at #100, 301 - 14th Street NW, or call our help desk Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, at 403-230-1443 x221. We'd be glad to chat to you about this and your #greengoals! Have a great day, Calgary!