Helpful tips for planning and caring for your raingarden and yard throughout the year:
While it may seem like there is a lot out of control in today’s world, there are still plenty of ways for us to make a positive impact on our environment and community. An easy way to do this is by enjoying one of America’s favorite hobbies: eco-friendly gardening. It’s true! What better place to go green than in your garden? And it’s easy to get started, even if you’ve never tried gardening before.
Here are some ideas for you to consider implementing:
Garden with native plants. This doesn’t mean your yard has to look “wild” or “unkempt”. You can achieve very balanced and beautiful design with native plants. Native plants are adapted to the climate and the soil in which you plant them. They have extensive root systems so less watering is required.
Stop using pesticides and chemicals on your yard! There are environmentally superior organic alternatives. For example, you can reduce the number of weeds by using mulch instead of weed killers, and you can amend your soil with compost instead of fertilizing. Native plants thrive without pesticides or fertilizer.
Capture and retain rainwater on site. Stormwater run-off deposits pollutants into our lakes and streams. Visualize rain coming off an asphalt roof, flowing across an overfertilized lawn, and running down and oil-stained driveway directly into our lakes and rivers. You can change that by installing a raingarden on your property to capture rainwater on-site and redirecting house downspouts to a garden area.
Reduce turf. Americans put in about 20 million acres of lawn each year, but you can break away from tradition with groundcovers — low-growing plants that can form a uniform layer, as turf does. They come in different textures and colors, and some have special features like flowers or berries. When you choose the right groundcover for a site, the biggest advantage is that it needs less water and maintenance than grass does once it is established. Groundcovers grow in difficult locations such as steep slopes where they help stabilize soils, and under trees where light may be limited. As an added bonus, groundcovers allow more rain water to absorb into the ground than conventional grass lawns.
Location! Location! Location! Plant a garden in a publicly visible part of your yard-the front, back, sides, alley or boulevard. You’ll add a vibrant display of color to your neighborhood and create an attractive habitat for birds and butterflies. As a bonus, gardens foster conversation and sharing among neighbors, and thereby builds strong neighborhoods.
Make a plan. The best way to be successful is to plan things out. Where is the best place to put a rain garden to catch rain, snowmelt, and run-off so that the water seeps naturally into the ground, nourishing roots, and recharging the groundwater supply? Do you have the right location and mix of plants to assure a full season of blooms? What about trees and shrubs?