greenscape

Lawn and garden enthusiasts are often on the lookout for new trends that can make their lawns and gardens healthier and more robust. One trend that has gained considerable popularity in recent years is the move toward greenscaping, a set of landscaping practices that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says can improve the health and appearance of lawns and gardens while protecting and preserving the planet’s natural resources.

Why greenscape?

Although the opportunity to protect and preserve natural resources is reason enough for many lawn and garden enthusiasts to embrace greenscaping, there are additional benefits to turning a landscape into a greenscape. Greenscaping promotes the planting of native plants, which are already accustomed to local climates and therefore do not require as much time and effort to care for than nonnative plants. Nonnative plants might struggle to adapt to foreign climates, requiring homeowners to water them more frequently than native plants. And homeowners who plant nonnative plants can expect to spend money to ensure they survive. So nonnative plants can waste water and also cost homeowners time and money. 

How can I greenscape?

Planting native plants is just one element of greenscaping. The following are a handful of additional ways men and women with green thumbs can turn their properties into healthy greenscapes.

• Build and maintain healthy soil. The EPA notes that a single teaspoon of healthy soil contains roughly 4 billion organisms. These organisms help create a loose soil structure that promotes strong, healthy roots. In addition, healthy soil recycles nutrients for plants while protecting them from certain pests and diseases. One way to create healthy soil is to conduct a soil test to determine if it has any nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium or lime deficiencies. Another way to build healthy soil is to add compost when mixing top soil for new garden beds or plants. Among its many benefits, compost can help soil retain nutrients and water. 

• Water effectively. Lawns and gardens need water to thrive, but overwatering can be just as harmful to lawns as drought. Make a list of the types of plants (including the types of grass) in your yard, and then do your homework to determine how much water each plant needs. The EPA notes that vegetables and other annuals should be watered at the first sign of wilting, though perennials typically only need water if they still are sagging when temperatures cool in the evening. Trees and shrubs with fully established roots usually do not require any watering, though they might need some in years that are especially dry. Avoid watering in midday, when summertime temperatures are typically at their hottest and water is likely to evaporate. In addition, watering in the evening might encourage the growth of mold or disease, so water in the early morning.

• Practice “grasscycling.” When mowing the grass, leave clippings on the lawn (though not in large piles dumped from buckets attached to the mower). It’s a misconception that grass clippings contribute to the buildup of thatch that blocks water from getting to the soil. In fact, when clippings are left on the lawn, the soil recycles the clippings into fertilizer.

Learn more about greenscaping by going to epa.gov.

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