Is it spring yet? No, it most decidedly is not. But that doesn’t mean it’s not time to think about what you’re going to do differently once the weather warms up. Many of us are looking forward to the warm weather and tackling projects that the ice and snow kept us from — planting the garden, fixing up the lawn and repairing all the damage winter wrought on the outside of the house and the yard.
While you’re planning your springtime repairs and home improvements, consider making more environmentally sustainable choices for your house and garden. They’ll reduce your community’s ecological footprint and could save you money, as well.
The sustainable yard
As you plan what you’re going to plant this spring, choose plants that are native to your area. Exotic imported flowers, shrubs and trees need more water, fertilizer, care and time to thrive.
Fertilize with organic compost, preferably from your own compost bin or pile. It’s free, reuses products that you’ve already used, and doesn’t damage surrounding plants or threaten animals.
After planting flowers and other plants, cover the flower beds and vegetable gardens with organic mulch. It looks pleasant, plus it helps conserve water and keep out pests.
Collect rainwater using rain barrels or tanks. You also can keep a bucket in the shower to collect some of the water that you don’t use, and re-use it to water your plants. Even if you don’t put a barrel under your downspouts, make sure they’re not leading water onto the driveway or paved path — that’s just wasting a valuable resource. Direct water onto your garden or lawn, instead. You’ll reduce the amount of watering you’ll have to do in dry periods.
In the spirit of not wasting water, check your outdoor faucets and replace any worn and leaky washers so that you don’t waste water outdoors.
Compost garden cuttings and kitchen scraps, which you can use to fertilize next year’s garden.
Once the warm weather weather returns, it’s time to make some simple changes that can reduce not only your environmental impact, but your bills, as well.
Start by turning off the clothes dryer for the season, and hang your laundry on a line outdoors, instead.
Replace light bulbs in outdoor lights with low-energy LEDs. They use a fraction of the energy of incandescent bulbs and even less than compact fluorescents. Or take it a step further, and install solar-charged outdoor garden lights.
While you may not be worried about cold air now that the weather is getting warmer, check the weather-stripping and caulking around doors and windows. Remove and replace any that’s chipped or cracked. You’ll be air-conditioning before you know it, and this will save you money in the warm weather, as well.
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