“The Green Guide, National Geographic’s source for greening your life.” “Green Home—everything you need to create a healthy home environment.” Green-collar jobs, green building, and green news. Green is certainly the color of the decade. Yet, long before green became such a household buzzword, gardeners were growing green plants. Isn’t gardening the original green industry?
Gardening is a partnership with nature. Therefore, it is only fitting that we create our landscapes with an awareness of how our actions in our gardens impact the environment. Over the next few months, I plan to post a series of articles on how to garden green. Hopefully my list will inspire you to come up with ideas of your own. I’d love to hear your input.
Green gardening requires an understanding of ecology. What vegetation would naturally grow on this site? What stress factors do these plants need to cope with? Will the plants grow in sun or shade? Is it windy? How hot and cold will it get here? How about yearly rainfall? Is the ground level or sloping? What is the soil like? Is it acidic or alkaline, clay or sand? What bugs or other animals eat plants in this area? Understanding how plants grow, and how they are adapted to their surroundings, lets us choose a landscape in harmony with nature.
Here in arid Colorado, green gardening involves conserving water, in keeping with our limited rainfall. (I’ve already discussed some xeriscape principles—see my articles about zone watering and lawns.) How can we reuse and recycle? What practices reduce our need for chemicals, especially those derived from non-renewable resources? How can we use local materials, rather than those trucked in over long distances?
I’ll be covering all these questions and more over the next months. Once you are thinking green, you will doubtless come up with plenty of additional ideas. Share them with your neighbors, and we can all make a difference together.