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Practical Sustainability: Green Landscaping Ideas That Won't Break the Bank

Daffodils in Bloom

Spring has (finally!) sprung...

After the long, cold winter of 2015, it's nice to see the crocuses and daffofils pushing their way out of the ground and the trees budding into leaf.  In honor of spring's arrival, this month's Practical Sustainability column focuses on sustainable landscaping ideas that won't break the bank.

  1. Compost!  When you do your spring cleanup, consider adding the leaves you rake up to a compost pile or compost bin.  Save money by making your own compost, and then use it to feed and mulch your plantings.  Click here for compost solutions you can build yourself.
  2. Fertigate!  If you have an automated irrigation system, consider adding a "fertigation" solution - like EZ-FLO -  to your system.  Plants absorb nutrients better when fertilizer is "watered in."  For a few hundred dollars, your irrigation system can deliver low doses of fertilizer to your landscape with greater efficiency and less risk of runoff than if you use topical fertilizers.  
  3. Set Timers!  When you start your irrigation system back up this spring, consider setting automatic timers to water early in the morning when evaporative losses will be lowest, and adjust sprinkler heads to make sure that you aren't sending water onto the sidewalk or into the street in front of your home.
  4. Use Drought Tolerant Grass!  While overseeding (the practice of adding new grass seed to an existing lawn) is best undertaken in the fall months, some people practice overseeding in the spring.  If you can't overseed in the fall and choose to do so now, consider a drought-tolerant grass variety that, once established, will be less thirsty than a typical lawn.
  5. Capture Rainwater!  If it's legal in your region, consider capturing rainwater from the April showers to water your May flowers.  Adding a rainwater catchment system is as easy as installing a rain barrel at your gutter downspout, and then installing a filter and pump so you can use the water in your planting beds or lawn.  By capturing rain water, you're also protecting the environment against the negative effects of storm water runoff.  Click here for simple DIY rain barrel instructions. 
  6. Plant Drought Tolerant Ornamentals! Pick your ornamental plants carefully.  Consult your local Extension service for a list of drought tolerant and native/adaptive plant varieties that will thrive in your region with lower water use.  Cornell's extension division publishes plants lists for many regions, including Long Island where Sunset Green home is located.
  7. Choose Perennials!  Substitute perennials into beds where you typically plant annuals.  Perennials live longer and establish deeper roots. You'll spend less on your plants, and will save water throughout the season.

Planting season is here.  Use sustainable practices to minimize water use and reduce your impact on the environment!

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