Sustainable Landscapes

April showers bring May flowers and we're off to a great start. Farmer's Almanac is supporting cool temperatures with rain for April and with more rain into May. Time to think about maintaining sustainable landscapes. This type of maintenance creates a healthier, longer term lawn by the simple use of native plants, water harvesting and compost.

Begin with native plants for the mid-west. Native plants are a great way to contribute to your soil and environment. Plus, they're just beautiful and if conditions are right, supply you with a beautiful landscape full of color. Native plants require little to no maintenance. Except when first planted, they require minimal watering. Because these plants are native to our area there is no need for fertilizers or pesticides. Your sustainable landscapes will conserve water and energy, reduce waste and aid in preventing soil erosion by decreasing runoff.

 Orange Milkweed

Orange Milkweed

 Black Eyed Susan

Black Eyed Susan

 Maidenhair Fern

Maidenhair Fern

 Purple Coneflower

Purple Coneflower

It takes approximately 500 years for 1 inch of soil to naturally develop,
while one good rain storm can wash away .04 inches of the soil -- on a site
with no plant cover, significantly more. Preserving topsoil helps to keep your
plants healthy and prevents the topsoil from drying out and blowing away.
By amending the soil you add nutrients back in the earth as well as volume and aeration. The surefire way to do this is through compost.
 

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Composting will improve soil structure so that soil can easily hold the correct
amount of moisture, nutrients and air ... very useful for recycling kitchen
wastes, leftover crop residues, weeds, and manures.  

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The last element for maintaining a sustainable landscape is water harvesting. There are many different methods and techniques to harvest water. Here are just a few ...

  • Capturing runoff from rooftops
  • Capturing runoff from local catchments
  • Capturing seasonal floodwaters from local streams
  • Conserving water through watershed management

Some of the advantages of harvesting rainwater include:

  • It's absolutely free to use and it's a clean source of water
  • It's free of chemicals found in tap water
  • Rain barrels are easy to install
  • The water can be used for many different purposes
  • It's environmentally friendly
  • It's excellent for irrigation
  • It reduces the use of ground water

In a nutshell, the basics ... native plants, composting and water harvesting. These are just three of the many ways to creating a healthier garden and preserving existing plant life, while also conserving resources. It's good for the environment and it's good for us. The basics.