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April 6, 2014

Reduce Pollution While Preparing Your Lawn and Garden for Summer

Those of us who are passionate about protecting the environment are always looking for ways to reduce pollution. Some strategies, like modifying your diet, are easy to practice in all seasons. Others are more relevant at certain times of year. Gardeners across the US are shaking the dust off of their shovels and making their weekly pilgrimages to the seed shop. It’s a good time to discuss ways we can protect our entire community’s environment while beautifying our own back yards.

Photo by DerekDD (deviantART).

Make Your Garden a GMO-Free Zone

The Monsanto corporation is very, very good at what it does. Unfortunately, “what it does” includes a variety of bad practices, from designing and marketing toxic pesticides to attacking small farmers. Although many environmentalists know about some of Monsanto’s unsavory dealings, they may not be aware that this company owns approximately 40% of the seed companies in the US.

Taking a stand against this company’s thuggery and keeping your money out of GMO research requires doing a little research of your own. You’d be amazed at the number of trademarks and companies that this jolly not-so-green giant has acquired in recent years. However, by choosing to buy seeds from seed banks and companies that have taken the safe seed pledge, you can keep GMO seeds out of your garden and keep your money out of the GMO business.

Just Say No to High-Phosphorous Fertilizers

Photo by A-Good-Day-To-You (deviantART).

Green doesn’t always mean environmentally friendly, and this is especially true when it comes to lawn fertilizers. All plants need a combination of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium in order to stay healthy. However, when high amounts of these chemicals leak into surface water and groundwater, the effect can be disastrous. Phosphorous in particular has a high potential for polluting your watershed. In addition, this chemical is difficult to produce sustainably.

Reducing pollution from lawn fertilization begins with having your soil tested. This will make sure you’re not applying any more fertilizer than your grass needs to survive. There are a wide variety of low-phosphorous fertilizers on the market today, and choosing one of them can reduce your lawn’s environmental impact.

If you’re willing to go a little further, search the farm and garden section on your town’s Craigslist to find farmers, ranchers, and horse owners who are looking to get rid of those stinky manure piles. Aged manure doesn’t stink like the fresh stuff does, and raking a thin layer over your grass is a great sustainable way to get greened up for summer.

Bee Sustainable with Native, Water-Efficient Species

Photo by 30-noir (deviantART).

Environmentalists throughout the US are abuzz with news about the plight of the humble honeybee. Although technically a non-native species, bees have become incredibly important to US agriculture. Without these pollinators, we face both lowered crop production and increased reliance on GMO plants.

Backyard gardeners can help solve this problem by planting bee-friendly species. (Some resources: 1, 2, & 3.) Depending on your region, there are a number of attractive, water-efficient flowers that will sustainably beautify your garden while giving bees a great habitat. Just remember to be careful where you step with bare feet once those flowers start blooming!

Reducing pollution and gardening are two tasks that seem to never end. Springtime provides us with a special opportunity to protect the environment while giving ourselves a nice green space to enjoy. Using these tips in a backyard or community garden can help you make sure your watershed stay cleaner and greener this summer.

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Posted by Mark Contorno.

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