BY: SABINE EHGOETZ
Odds are that when you are a gardener, you’re working your yard not only because you want it to look nice but also because you enjoy nurturing nature. As it turns out, this can also have ecomonic advantages too, so why not consider these few tips to help make your green thumb even greener, save some money as well as energy and do something good for the environment right at your home?
With summer at its peak and thoughts of fall seeping into our minds, planting season may have past, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to integrate some economically friendly gardening ideas into your daily and weekly routine.
First there is the obvious: composting is an easy and very cost-effective way to minimize the amount of organic garbage that you have to haul to the curb each week, while at the same time spending less on soil. The matter that your compost breaks down to isn’t only loaded with good nutrients and microorganisms, but also causes water to be absorbed better when added to your current soil.
Are you a java-lover? Then keep your coffee grounds out of your green bin and spread them straight over the bottom of your plants! As you enjoy your daily energy-boost, so does your garden. Coffee is an amazing source of nitrogen and allows you to save on store-bought fertilizer. The only time you might want to worry is when your hydrangea all of a sudden starts to demand it double-double!
Talking about thirsty flowers, how much water do you figure goes straight from your tap on to your beds and lawn every day throughout the summer? Depending on the size of your garden, it may be enough to notice an obvious increase on your water bill during the hot months. The easiest way to cut down on your water bill is to install a water barrel under your downspouts. Used properly, the RiverSides Homeowner’s Guide to Rain Water states, a simple system like this can save between 65 and 70 percent of your runoff. Rain Barrels can be fancy with mosquito mesh or child proofing, which will cost you a bucket of cash, or they can be very cheap if you simply want to just buy a bucket. Whatever you chose, it will pay off on the long run, and your plants will thank you for giving them non-chlorinated water to drink.
Now that we’ve gotten your water bill reduced, why not work on that hydro bill at the same time – and maybe even your gym membership. Are you someone who uses an electric lawn mower? If your lawn isn’t too big and you cut the grass regularly, a manual push mower will actually do just fine. While it will work the muscles in your arms, abs and buttocks more than an electric or gas powered mower, but when has that ever been a bad thing – especially when the workout comes for free?! These devices cost less than 100 bucks and are actually not too hard to push, considering that you are only ever supposed to cut off one third of your grass length anyways to encourage root growth and avoid stress for your lawn.
What about left over clippings, you ask? Just leave them on the lawn as they are actually beneficial for adding more nitrogen to your lawn as they decompose. The clippings will also stimulate earthworm activity which is also healthy for the lawn. And don’t forget about noise reduction as well by pushing manually – that is unless you are concerned about your own huffing and puffing as you work up a sweat.
Heading towards fall, homeowners of course start to think about getting their yard ready for winter. Hay bales used as Thanksgiving decoration can be torn up to create some excellent mulch to cover your plants and protect them from frost. The same thing can even be done with old newspapers. Take your daily news out there, cut a hole in the middle of the page, place it around your flowers and smaller shrubs and weigh it down with some stones. While old news is actually no news, they will come in handy to prevent winter weed growth and discourages pests. This paper also breaks down easily and makes for delicious food for worms once next spring comes around.
Being creative and innovative with your late summer or early fall gardening can create a whole host of benefits. Not only are you saving money with your green endeavours, you might even shed a few pounds off your waistline and get rid of a lot of garbage you didn’t want to hold on to anyway. So give it a try – knowing you put cash back in your pocket and helped the environment by going eco friendly in your backyard will feel both amazing and instantly rewarding – I guarantee it!