A love for the environment comes naturally with a love for the outdoors. Unfortunately, we can’t always take a trip to the wilderness every time we need a little quality time with Mother Nature. You can however transform your backyard into your own little oasis — just make sure to do so responsibly and with an eco-conscious mind.
Take these examples of environmentally friendly backyard renovations to create your own outdoor space that is green in more ways than one.
Become a Xeriscape Artist
No backyard is complete without some trees and plants to keep you company. Keep in mind that not all green things are meant to grow in your climate. Find out what plants are native to your area and use those to landscape your yard. This will use less water, make your yard easier to maintain and create an inviting space for native birds and wildlife.
The use of native plants can be especially useful when trying to attract pollinators. Exotic plants can often upset the balance of wild plants and animals in your region, while native plants attract pollinators and wildlife that not only help your yard thrive, but your surrounding areas as well. Xeriscaping is especially useful if you life in the Southwest or other arid regions where water is scarce.
Composting and Rainwater Harvesting
To really make use of your outdoor space and natural resources, set up a compost system. Composting cuts down on waste and creates natural fertilizer for your yard that is chemical-free.
Also consider setting up a rainwater harvesting system. You can go the traditional route by diverting rain from usual runoff spots into an above-ground barrel and then using that water for plants and gardens. You can also, as the Landscaping Network suggests, use bioswales and grading to automatically divert water to where you need it most. You could even create a “rain garden” where you place plants that use more water around bioswales and where rainwater goes most often.
Upgrade What You Already Have
Your house may already have a high-maintenance lawn or swimming pool that make you cringe when you think of the resources they use, but there are ways to cut your carbon footprint with these things as well.
- For example, replace non-native grass with wildflowers or shrubs.
- For a swimming pool, install energy-saving tools such as an efficient pool pump and timer.
- You can also install a solar cover, which warms the pool with solar energy and saves water from evaporating.
With any expensive upgrade, consider getting a home warranty, so if something breaks you can fix it for a reduced cost instead of throwing it out and buying something new. Reusing and repairing cuts down on landfill waste and saves money.
Decorate with Recycled or Eco-Friendly Materials
Of course you want to set up a nice sitting area in your backyard, but be aware of the kinds of materials you use in these features.
- For decks, patios and fences, use sustainable materials such as bamboo, recycled wood and metal, or natural stone.
- Buying used patio furniture or reclaiming or “upcycling” old furniture saves you tons of money and reduces waste. Plus, well-loved items have more character and comfort than mass-produced products.
With some conservation and creativity, you will never want to leave your backyard paradise.
Feature image courtesy of Chun Kit To (Flickr)