Cut costs – save money – conserve for the future!
By Melissa Iozzo Technical Specialist
While visiting my parent’s house this weekend I spent a decent amount of time in the backyard enjoying the scenery, and at the same time, taking in the sights and sounds of all of the wonderful things they have done to attract local wildlife, save water, and beautify their gardens.
It got me thinking; there are so many simple teeny tiny little steps that we can all do to save some water here and there, or reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, or even save some cash.
“Saving the planet” isn’t first on either one of my folks lists, but it occurred to me that many of the things happening right in their back yard were really helping out the environment – even if in just small doses. If everyone on their street did just one of these things it would add up; and if everyone in the town did just one of these things, not only would their little community be flourishing with beautiful gardens, but folks would definitely see a break in their bills, as well as a reduction in their wastes!
Here are some of the “projects” that I witnessed my folks taking on almost effortlessly throughout their day. Certainly there’s much more that can be done… but my theory is start small, and see what grows!
-Collect rain water around the house to water outdoor plants with! My dad has a collection barrel at the end of his gutters for this – after a heavy rain this fills very fast, saving up to 55 gallons of water that would have otherwise been washed down the road! To reduce the breeding of mosquitoes, whom are typically attracted to standing water, add gold fish to the barrel! Not only are they fun to look at, but they are low maintenance, and can live off the mosquitoes larva. If you want to get really high tech consider building a small back yard pond out of collected rainwater (this involves some more intensive engineering and back ground knowledge, or course).
-Collect water used to wash fruits and veggies to water your plants with. Even the dog’s old water can be added to your houseplants rather than going down the drain! Better even yet, my mom waters her plants with her old fish water – its nutrient rich and the plants love it!
-Instead of planting grass, plant native plants! A green lawn is nice, but not only does grass not hold water well (and drinks a lot!), it also doesn’t attract much wildlife - like pretty butterflies, dragonflies, and moths. A lawn of mixed mulch (a great tool for holding water around your thirsty plants), native plants, and stones can be much more efficient, attract welcome non nuisance insects, and looks great too! Just think, when your neighbors have burt brown spots you’ll have flourishing native species in full bloom!!
-Think outside the box. My mom has a “broken glass garden” as well as a “rusty things garden”. Basically within a couple of the gardens are décor of whatever the recyclers won’t take ; i.e. old broken china, pieces of pottery, old bottles, rusty odds and ends – basically non recyclable materials that would have otherwise ended up ion a landfill, and are now great conversation starters!
There’s a lot more that you can do around your home – the key is just to keep thinking about ways to save – you may end up being surprised at what you come up with, as well as the beauty that comes with these ideas!