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Taking care of the environment can begin at your front door. Help your plants do what they do best – create oxygen, store carbon in their roots, cool your house, collect dust and particulate matter and provide places for play and relaxation. Look around your yard and find ways to be more Eco-conscious while creating your own natural oasis.
1. Increase the number of trees and vegetative cover around your home. On a hot summer day, the sun can heat dry exposed urban surfaces, such as roofs and pavement, to temperatures 50–90°F (27–50°C) hotter than the air, while shaded or moist surfaces—often in more rural surroundings—remain close to air temperatures. More
2. Plant for your climate zone and at the appropriate time. Many people buy plants simply based on looks. But you need to be aware of your climate zone and what grows well in your area. Fall is usually the best time to let trees, shrubs and grasses planted and well established. Reference the USDA Map when selecting plants and contact your local extension office for ideas on plants suited for your area.
3. Water early or late in the day. And, don’t overwater! Let water sink in before the peak heat of the day. Too much water can loosen root systems. So, be sure to use an appropriate amount. And, try to use water from a rain barrel or include new smart water technologies to ensure watering is effective and efficient. More
4. Compost & leave grass clippings on lawns. Composting is a good way to create your own nutrient-rich soil for creating mulch that enriches your own garden soil or top-dressing the lawn. Leaving the grass clippings fall on your lawn while mowing is another easy way to add nitrogen-rich nutrients to soil. How
5. Cut and prune plants and trees to keep them in a growing state. Pruning trees, shrubs, ornamentals and cutting the lawn are important for plant health. They will give off more oxygen and sequester more carbon. Pruning and cutting spurs healthy growth and the natural process of carbon in-oxygen out. More
6. Let your grass go dormant. Grasses can go dormant for a period of time, especially during dry summer months. Turning brown, but greening back up when moisture levels return, is normal. More
7. Encourage beneficial birds and insects to your yard and gardens with plants that attract them. Lure in pest-eating birds and beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, bees, praying mantis, butterflies, by planting certain flowers and shrubs. Learn
8. Encourage a backyard habitat. By providing food, shelter, water and cover, you will attract beneficial birds and other wildlife. You may even get your yard certified as a Wildlife Habitat. How
9. Make sure you have some groundcover to stem the flow of run off and capture dust and other particulate matter. Runoff can wash unwanted sediment and fertilizers into our waterways. Be sure to plant some ivy, grass, or other creeping, clumping and spreading plants. More
10. Get outside and enjoy your own landscape! Send the kids outside, eat al fresco, play games for exercise, and use your backyard as a learning tool for kids (from assigning outdoor chores to learning science and environmental lessons). More
By the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute ©2012
The free TurfMutt program is a dynamic digital curriculum led by Lucky, a real-life rescue dog who encourages kids (K-5) to protect the land around them and fosters an appreciation of natural surroundings in their own community. In addition to lesson plans, engaging activities, puzzles and videos, students can enjoy an interactive map about ecosystems across the country. With these resources, teachers can emphasize the benefits of landscaping and green spaces in balance with local environments, and instill a new appreciation for environmental issues through scientific investigation.
Lesson plans can be found at: http://turfmutt.discoveryeducation.com/educators.cfm
For families and homeowners, TurfMutt hosts a blog at www.TurfMutt.com, discussing ways to take care of plants and the lawn and landscape in a way that works with Nature, not against it.