Greening Your Yard and Garden Accessories
One of the great benefits of an environmentally friendly garden is spending time in it simply relaxing and enjoying the chair-side view of nature. After all, nature is what environmentalism is all about. As you add amenities to your garden, consider these tips to keep it eco-friendly:
Furnishings: If you choose wooden tables and chairs, make sure that the wood is from sustainable sources and not from tropical hardwood. Consider buying wooden furniture that has the Forest Stewardship Council’s stamp on it, certifying that it’s made from wood from sustainable, responsibly managed forests. Also keep in mind that wooden furniture needs to be treated to keep it from rotting when it’s left out in the rain, and the treatment often involves toxic chemicals; make sure that the furniture you buy is treated with a nontoxic preservative such as linseed oil, and use such products for future retreatment.
Check that plastic furniture is made from recycled plastic. Metal garden furniture is more likely to be made from new materials, so if you go this route, check that your local recycling service will take it when its life is over.
Lighting: Put candles, which are very effective in the garden, into glass containers to shield them from wind and rain; you can make your own lanterns from glass bottles or jars. A green alternative is to install lights with solar-powered bulbs that build up energy from the sun during the day and then release it at night to light your garden.
Outdoor cooking: If you use charcoal, make sure it’s made from renewable wood, and don’t buy oil- or gas-based charcoal starter fuel — these aren’t good for the environment or your food.
Whether you burn wood, natural gas, electricity, or propane in your outdoor stove or barbecue, you create greenhouse gas emissions. Go with the greenest possible fuel source: electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar, or hydro power or wood (which itself is renewable).
Outdoor heaters: Although it would be great to spend time in your outdoor living space year-round, using an outdoor heater that burns gas or uses electricity not only sends your bills skyward but also adds to the amount of carbon dioxide you release into the atmosphere. Wood-burning fire pits, chimineas, and outdoor chimneys all release carbon dioxide as well. Talk to your supplier about whether you can burn eco-logs (manufactured fireplace logs that release far fewer emissions) in the appliances.
If you decide to buy a gas or electric patio heater, don’t leave it on when you’re not using it, and make sure that if you’re heating the outside space, your lights and heat are turned off inside your home to reduce your energy use as much as possible.