Gardening: 10 ways to make your yard healthier for you and the environment

With spring in the air, and record high temperatures being recorded across the GTA and throughout Ontario it seems that gardening has popped into mind, for many, much earlier this year.  If you find yourself in the position of needing or wanting to make some changes to your landscaping , you might want to consider some simple tips that the CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) put together on how to make your yard environmentally friendly and better for your personal health.  Here is a summary of their suggestions:

  1. Pesticide and herbicide free maintenance.  Apply a 4 cm layer of mulch in your garden beds to deter weed growth and remember that the best controls for insects and pests are natural ones like birds and beneficial insects, so make sure that your garden has a variety of small trees and shrubs to attract them.
  2. Reduce use of chemical fertilizers.  You should be able to enjoy a lawn and garden free from chemical fertilizers with the proper consideration of your soil condition and organic content.
  3. Make your vegetable garden organic.  Vegetables that are grown with organic fertilizers tend to be healthier not only for the environment but also for the consumer.
  4. Reduce the area of your yard that is dedicated to being a lawn.  Smaller lawns mean less maintenance and reduced water requirements.
  5. Use trees for windbreak and shade.  You should be considering your home’s energy needs so consider planting a windbreak to reduce the energy impact of harsh winter winds and trees along the south and west sides of your home to provide cooling shade in the warmer months.
  6. Invest in a rain collection system (cistern).  Rainwater is free!
  7. Install efficient water systems.  Try a sub-surface drip irrigation system in plant beds and in-ground sprinklers with automatic timers for lawn areas.
  8. Don’t overwater!  Be responsible with the use of water and remember that the lawn once established only requires approximately 2.5cm of water per week.  Try using a plastic container to measure if weekly rainfall is enough to sustain the lawn.
  9. Plant drought-resistant native species.  Typically native plants and grasses can often survive longer periods of low rainfall without desperate need for watering.  They are also typically more resistant to pests than non-native species.
  10. Install efficient exterior lighting.  Consider using exterior-rated fluorescent or sodium lighting.

These suggestions are all part of an initiative by the CMHC that is called Healthy Housing, click here for the full publication. If you are interested in finding other suggestions for making your home healthier for both you and the environment click here.



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