An Eco-friendly Garden is Good for All

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An Eco-friendly Garden is Good for All

As the well-intentioned users of products meant to promote beautiful landscapes and gardens, we have unwittingly become the abusers.

We reap what we sow and it’s time we all make note of this large footprint we are leaving behind. Even if the only change each of us made were to change how we use what we have, collectively we’d make a significant difference in the positive impact on our environment.

Sure, ‘going green’ is in these days. It’s the new black. Everybody wants to be associated with the term. But I believe it is especially important for gardeners at any level to recognize the impact we have on this whole concept of environmental stewardship. As a group, we’re not as eco-friendly as you might think—yet we possess the ability to make one of the most positive and measurable changes.

Take me for example. If you were to find yourself in my garden shed years ago, it would look a lot different than it does today. Back then, the floor was crammed with gas-powered tools and the shelves were a storehouse for every pesticide, herbicide, fungicide and fertilizer, standing by to handle any real, perceived or even potential problem.

Over the years, I’ve come around 180 degrees. Before ‘going green’ was trendy, I began phasing out my own personal arsenal of chemical weapons used to wage war on anything in the garden that I didn’t put there myself. During my transition, it really hit home when I learned how few bugs in any garden are actually considered pests. As it turns out, it’s only about 3%. And yet, how often do we hear about the person wanting to eliminate all the bugs, just to get the few real offenders.

And if that weren’t bad enough, if the directions on the pesticide label (assuming we read them) said to use one tablespoon per gallon, we use 2, 3, 5 or even 10 times that because we think, “more is better”. But in the process of these non-selective, all out assaults, we are killing entire populations of beneficial insects, already there to control problems naturally if we’d just give them a chance.

Weeds are another problem. In an effort to eliminate certain types of ‘green vegetation’ while keeping lawns and gardens looking pristine and lush, we carpet them with herbicides. Sadly, as we apply chemicals of every sort to solve any potential problem, we rarely think about the many consequences to our health and the health of our planet.

We water our lawns and gardens to excess, leading to runoff of chemicals, sediments and erosion and wasting an increasingly precious resource in the process. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates we waste about half of all the water we consume. Is there any wonder why we are now facing critical water shortages in many areas at home and abroad?

Personally, my biggest dent to the environment involved the equipment I used to manage my landscape. For example, one lawn mower used for a single hour pollutes as much as 40 cars on the road at rush hour for the same time. Backpack blowers and string trimmers are even worse. Unaware of my offending actions, I opted for the power and efficiency only the biggest carbon emitters could provide.

Today, I use a less powerful but more convenient rechargeable blower. Even my mower and string trimmer are battery operated. Not only are they lightweight and easy to use, but also the personal satisfaction I derive from not polluting the atmosphere is extremely satisfying. Yet as much as I enjoy my rechargeable mower, even it will eventually be replaced when I find a push-powered reel mower that’s good enough to make the cut.

As the well-intentioned users of products meant to promote beautiful landscapes and gardens, we have unwittingly become the abusers. We reap what we sow and it’s time we all make note of this large footprint we are leaving behind. Even if the only change each of us made were to change how we use what we have, collectively we’d make a significant difference in the positive impact on our environment.

It all adds up. Some will do much, others very little, but if we all do something, we’ll be well on our way to creating a more eco-friendly garden, not only in our own tiny plot, but more importantly for the one we all share and cultivate together.