Thursday, March 22, 2007

How Healthy-Home Gardening Can Save Water and Reduce Pollution

Landscaping choices for your garden can contribute not only to a healthier lifestyle but also can help save water and reduce water pollution. Water conservation has become a significant issue for many communities, particularly for many U.S. states in the west and southwest.

Texas is also now facing water shortages and future potential water shortages as the population growth outpaces the local water supply. Texas depends upon a system of lakes and rivers to collect surface water from runoff. This runoff can become polluted with pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, and sediment. It is important for Texas as well as other communities to conserve water and preserve water quality.

The Texas Extension Service--Tarrant County and the North Central Texas Council of Governments, along with other collaborators, created the Texas SmartScape® program, ,to teach homeowners and businesses how to select plants and maintain landscaping to reduce water usage and reduce the use of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. This program is based upon principles included in Earthkind, xeriscaping, waterwise, and yard-smart programs that many other communities around the country now support.

Some of the basic ideas are:

1. Select native or locally-adapted plants. These plants require less water, fertilizers, and pesticides.
2. Whenever possible, avoid chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers and opt for natural alternatives.
3. Water the garden at night or early in the morning when there will be less evaporation from heat.
4. Use drip irrigation when possible.
5. Mulch plants to preserve soil moisture and add beneficial elements as it decomposes.
6. Avoid watering immediately after applying any fertilizer, even organic slow-release fertilizer.

The website even helps homeowners or businesses design their landscaping.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Gardening and the Healthy Home

As spring approaches, many people have already begun their gardening or are planning their spring and summer garden. As I have learned, the outside of you home is as important as the inside.

Many chemicals and treatments used on lawns and in the garden can also affect our health as well as the health of the planet. The fumes of pesticides and herbicides can seep into your home from the outside. More directly, people as well as pets running and sitting on chemically-treated lawns can also directly absorb the chemicals. The residues can also be tracked into the home from the bottom of shoes or paws. The chemicals also contaminate run-off water, that can end up in streams and other water bodies.

As a rule of thumb, if there is a garden task, I always look for the best natural or organic alternative. There are numerous books, organizations, and even lawn maintenance companies that focus on organic and non-chemical lawn care. Most of the time, I do find an alternative.

One good book that I have used is Common-Sense Pest Control: Least-Toxic Solutions for Your Home, Garden, Pets, and Community This is a very detailed book on almost any pest you will find around your home or garden.

More to come.....