8 Tips for a Greener Garden

8 Tips for a Greener Garden

Learn how you can supercharge your garden without the use of any secret weapons.

From butterfly-attracting shrubs and trees like crabapples to maintenance-free native flowers like the bee balm and catmint, perennials are hardy and beautiful — and make any garden more bountiful and colorful. Here are even more tips to creating a garden that will be the envy of all your neighbors!

1. Use Mulch
Mulch is nature’s magic blanket. A covering of leaves, straw or peat protects plants from the cold and heat, prevents weeds from popping up, adds nutrients to soil and retains moisture.

2. Choose Native Plants
If you pick what grows naturally where you live, you’re going to get happy flowers, trees and shrubs that don’t need extra water.

To find out what thrives in your climate zone, check websites for local flora. Remember to cultivate a diverse garden with plants that pollinators — like butterflies and bees — enjoy. These helpers love fruity shrubs, milkweed, black-eyed Susans, zinnias and many other beautiful plants.

3. Go Easy on the Water
Why just send valuable H20 into the air? Skip the sprinklers and instead use soaker hoses (with lots of teeny holes) or drip-irrigation systems that slowly release water. Or if you live in a dry place, try xeriscaping (named after the Greek word for dry), which uses water-thrifty flowers such as gorgeous orange, red, and yellow nasturtium and shrubs such as yellow rabbitbrush shrubs.

Don’t use automatically programmed built-in sprinklers as they’re based on time only. You’ll even see some of them turn on in people’s yards during rainstorms.

4. Compost
Composting is not for everyone, but many gardeners like improving the quality of the soil by letting fruits, vegetables and other non-meat kitchen scraps decompose in a special bin. You can build your own compost bin or you can buy one, too.


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Mix nitrogen-rich coffee grounds into the soil to promote healthy leaf growth. Try asking local coffee shops for grounds if you don’t produce any of your own, as some have given out free bags of soil-enriching used coffee grounds you can mix with dried leaves or grass.

5. Get Inspiration from the Pros
Visit arboretums and nurseries and ask the people who work there about plants that can help your garden reach its natural potential. You can even walk through parks and see the landscape there. You’ll find inspiration most anywhere, if you look for it!

6. Think About Shrinking Your Lawn
Your neighbors might be unhappy if you replace your entire lawn with turf, so consider instead increasing the area you devote to native flowerbeds.

7. Pick “Greener” Flowers
You don’t need to forgo your favorite blooms. If you're a rose fan, for example, try the hardy, unfussy Rugosa.

8. Go Easy on Chemicals
How much does it really matter if you’ve got a few less-than-perfect-looking leaves?

If you do spray anything, do it on a spot basis and look for the most environmentally friendly products, as this doesn’t harm any of your pollenating friends.

You can try making your own sprays out of ingredients such as horseradish and cayenne pepper. So the next time you’re tempted to pull out the repellant or weed killer, bring out your radio, put on a wide-brimmed hat and just enjoy weeding by hand!

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