Gardening Basics For Dummies
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Your yard is a great place to grow your green principles. Left to its own devices, any area becomes a complex ecosystem, which is basically a group of plants and animals in the same area that rely on each other to prosper. Plants attract insects, which in turn attract birds and animals. Everything lives off something else in the ecosystem, and everything you do in your yard has a bearing on how that ecosystem evolves. The more you nurture your outdoor space without the use of chemicals and greenhouse-gas-emitting tools, the greener your garden becomes.

The elements of maintaining a balanced ecosystem in your yard or garden are:

  • Conserve water, which is in short supply in many areas. Keep the amount of water you use to a minimum, and rely on sources other than the tap (such as collected rainwater).

    A rain barrel collects water from the building’s roof for use in the garden. [Credit: Rain Wa
    Credit: Rain Water Solutions
    A rain barrel collects water from the building’s roof for use in the garden.
  • Promoting a flourishing environment for living things to encourage a healthy and diverse ecosystem. Grow plants that suit local conditions and benefit the whole ecosystem, attracting beneficial insects, birds, and other wildlife.

  • Conserve energy to reduce greenhouse gases and utility bills. Replace gas- or electric-powered appliances with manual or solar-powered versions.

  • Reducing chemical damage to protect your family’s health along with that of the local watershed. Banish the use of chemicals from your garden maintenance plan, and use natural materials such as homemade compost, bone meal, and some types of animal manure as fertilizer.

When you take active steps to balance the ecosystem in your yard, each species that calls it home eventually establishes a natural balance, too. For example:

  • Snails reduce algae in the water.

  • Birds reduce the insect population.

  • Some good insects like ladybugs devour bad insects like aphids (also known as greenflies).

    Attract the beneficial insects to your garden to help keep the bad ones at bay without the use of chemical pesticides. Simply grow the kinds of plants that the good insects find attractive, such as yarrow, Queen Anne’s lace, and marigolds.

Green gardening requires a bit of research, planning, and experimentation to get it right. The idea is to get to the point where you have the garden you want without having to take drastic action with chemicals, power tools, and so on.

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