It's the first Vinegar Friday of the spring and I'm thrilled to feature a post by guest blogger, Jeriann Watkins Ireland. It's all about getting your yard ready for the season and, of course, that means you'll need to grab your jug of distilled white vinegar (DWV).
|Photo courtesy of Karen Arnold|
It's that time of year where your grass is starting to grow, some flowers are popping up, and you're realizing you really need to decide what to do with your lawn this year. You're likely seeing and hearing ads for chemical weed removal and expensive lawn services. But there are lots of natural, affordable ways to keep your landscaping beautiful, without harming the environment. With Earth Day approaching, now is a great time to focus on daily sustainable practices to make every day Earth Day. Below are some suggestions for sustainable landscaping.
Natural weed removal seems daunting, but it's actually simple and dirt-cheap! Because of the high acid content, vinegar is quite effective as a weed killer. Even DWV with 5% acidity works to kill most weeds. If you want to get rid of grass or tougher plants though, you might want to try the 20% concentration. Spray or pour it on the plants you want to kill, then wait a few days for them to die.
You can also mix vinegar with equal parts salt and dish soap (make sure you use an eco-friendly liquid). Vinegar won't discriminate what it kills, so be sure to apply it only to the plants you want to be rid of. I've used this on the cracks in the sidewalk before and experienced good results. This year, I plan to try it on the goat heads (prickly weeds) in my backyard.
For a plant without much function, grass sure takes a lot of resources to maintain. A pretty lawn requires regular watering and mowing, which, for the most part, involves gas consumption. Instead of putting weekly effort and natural resources into keeping your plain ol' grass alive, plan out a xeriscape -- a landscape that uses more beneficial plants. Bark and gravel are great bases for xeriscaping, and both have the drainage to allow for shrubs, trees, and flowers.
If you're looking to get rid of your lawn and don't want to hire someone, there are a couple of methods you could use. First, try high-concentration vinegar to kill the grass. But be warned: it will take a lot of vinegar. Alternatively, you could use black plastic as an effective way to block the sunlight from the grass, thus removing its food source. Killing your grass will take time, but the result will be an easier to maintain landscape that is kinder to the environment.
Another way to reduce the ongoing environmental impact of your yard is to make it smaller. Adding a sunroom or deck to your house encourages you to spend more time looking at the landscape you put so much work into. A sunroom can also be a great place to plant an indoor herb garden and other edibles, particularly during cold weather seasons. Increasing the amount of edibles you grow both indoors and outdoors reduces your commercial consumption as well as your overall carbon footprint. If you're interested in indoor gardening, it's worth it to look into efficient hydroponic systems to maximize growth and prevent water waste.
Choosing Beneficial Plants and Landscaping Features
When landscaping focuses solely on aesthetics, the environment often suffers. Bringing in exotic plants may look nice, but it can result in species invading and killing the native foliage. Additionally, it can bring harm to native animals that may be poisoned by the exotic foliage. Choose plants native to your region.
Landscaping plants can do more than just look nice. The right flowers can attract bees, which then encourages more native plant growth. Consider turning your yard into a wildflower garden with native plants that attract bees, butterflies, and birds.
Landscaping isn't just about the plants, however. Water features are popular additions as well. Ponds can be beneficial to animal life and plant growth in your yard, but there are some steps to take to make sure you're not doing more harm than good. Avoid using chemical cleaners by choosing pond filter media that naturally kills bacteria.
We all want our landscape to be aesthetically pleasing, but there are lots of mistakes people make when trimming trees and plants. Methods like tree topping and over-pruning can prohibit growth, meaning you'll have to replace your plants sooner. Be sure to research the native plants that grow best in your area and the ways to properly care for them. By allowing your plants to grow naturally with minimal trimming, you can show your neighborhood the true beauty of nature and encourage others to make natural landscaping choices as well.
It's simple to make a pretty landscape, but being conscientious in your choices to ensure you're having a positive effect on your local environment takes dedication and effort. Eco-friendly landscaping is an extremely rewarding process that can positively impact you as it allows you to learn about native plant life.
Do you have any natural landscaping tips? Have you used vinegar to kill weeds? Share your experience in the comments below.