Hey green fingers, how green does your garden really grow? If you suspect that your pastoral idyll is breeding more toxic chemicals than prize hybrid-tea-rose bushes, then read on, my earth-moving friend. We'll have you footloose and pesticide-free yet, whether you're an intrepid landscape designer earnestly shaping topiaries to reenact the Fall of Troy or an apartment dweller content with a couple of potted begonias. The only question you need to ask yourself: Can you dig it?
Top Green Gardening Tips
1. Keep it real
You know what they say about Mother knowing best? Well, Mother Nature never needed to steal sips from a chemical cocktail of pesticides, weed killers, and chemical fertilizers to keep her act together. Nix the poisons and layer on some all-natural compost, instead. Call in beneficial insect reinforcements to wrestle pesky garden pests to the ground. Who needs to play Command & Conquer when you have battlefield drama unfolding before you in real time?
2. Make compost from kitchen scraps
Compost like a champ by throwing in your vegetable waste, instead of allowing it to be trucked off to the landfill. Known as "gardener's gold," compost enriches soil fertility by giving it a shot of high-powered, plant-loving nutrients. Aside from stimulating healthy root development, the addition of rich and earthy compost also improves soil texture, aeration, and water retention. Why waste your hard-earned cash on commercial products when the real deal is free for the taking? Speed up the process with the help of earthworms or go wriggle-free (if you're the squeamish sort).
3. Buy recycled
If your delicate aesthetic sensibilities balk at the idea of reusing yogurt or takeout containers to house your hydrangeas, check out the myriad environmentally friendly planters and raised-garden kits now available. It takes less energy to recycle something than to mine virgin materials, so whether you choose recycled copper, plastic, or even rubber to anchor your tender shoots, it's all copacetic. Admire your handiwork and eco-smarts while lounging on recycled lawn furniture.
4. Grow your own food
Buying organic produce can admittedly get pricey, so how about growing your own food instead of painstakingly manicuring that lawn for the umpteenth time? An estimated 40 million acres of the 48 contiguous American states are covered in lawns, making turf grass the United States' largest irrigated crop. American homeowners apply a cringe-worthy tens of millions of pounds of fertilizers and pesticides to their lawns, often at many times the recommended levels. All that for little more than ornamentation. It's time to return to the use of gardens as food sources--you won't find fresher (or cheaper) eating anywhere else.