Six Eco-Friendly Things To Do In Your Garden This Year

Living in Upstate New York, summertime is something to be savored. It doesn't last quite as long as I always want it to, and as someone who loves being outside relaxing or gardening, I don't know if I'd want it to end. Honestly, if I could have a really long summer and fall, and a shorter spring and winter,  I'd be totally down for that!

Our gardens, both veggie and flower are ever-evolving. Every year I make changes, adding plants and (sadly) sometimes eliminating them. Decor comes and goes, and I *try* to learn from my mistakes from previous seasons. Through it all, there are certain rules I go by: with my veggie garden I go for non-GMO always, and organic whenever possible and I don't use pesticides or any sort of weed killers in any of my gardens (veggie or flower). We try to conserve water, and plant things that make different animals happy so the gardens aren't solely for our own benefit.

Personally, I find gardening to be not only a rewarding experience, but also a therapeutic one. I feel like I have an overactive brain sometimes and when I'm working outside it seems to quiet the noise inside my head - at least somewhat. It's also a good form of exercise (trust me - lugging soil and mulch wears on you!) - and it gets you out into the fresh air!!  It's also nice to just sit and enjoy your work from time to time. :)

While the act of gardening might seem like an Eco-friendly activity on its face, there are ways in which our actions can actually be more detrimental - like using harmful pesticides and chemicals to rid our yards of weeds and bugs, or watering your grass (seriously - grass is overrated - plant a garden!). The list below is meant to help you find ways to make your yard work for both you and mother nature!

  • Plant herbs for warding off mosquitoes - mosquitoes are annoying - and scary to be honest. You can try to deter them naturally by planting herbs like lavender, rosemary, and peppermint. All of these are perennial too so you can enjoy them year after year! You can also plant citronella to ward of mosquitoes! 
  • Set up a rain barrel - allowing rain water to collect in a rain barrel is a great way of conserving your water usage. You can easily make one yourself, or buy one. Check your local municipalities - they might even sell them. If you live in Erie County, NY - there is currently a sale on for rain barrels and compost bins - hurry though, orders need to be placed by May 31st!
  • Watch what you plant! I love checking out different nurseries throughout the season, and I can easily buy plants anywhere, but you really need to watch where you're buying them from. This past weekend I went to Lowes and had amassed a cart full of plants I wanted to add to my garden. But then, when I was looking at a shrub, I saw an odd disclaimer that stated that the plant may, or may not have been treated with pesticides that might be harmful to the bee population. Say what??? I knew that Lowes and Home Depot had both come under fire for their use of pesticides that were found to be killing bees, but last I had heard, they had decided to stop using them. However, what I didn't know, was that while they do plan to stop using these harmful products, they are phasing them out over a period of years. Needless to say, I left my cart full of plants and went elsewhere. We need bees. Our plants - need bees. Why would I want to plant flowers that could possibly kill the partner-in-crime that they need??!?!
  • Compost - if you have the space to start a compost pile or bin, do it! If you live in an area where you can contribute to a town/city wide compost - do it! There are plenty of ways to compost, and doing so is a great way of reducing waste and also making your own soil amendment. 
  • Plant milkweed! The Monarch butterflies and milkweed are best friends. The Monarch butterflies are endangered so planting milkweed gives them one more chance to thrive. It's a perennial plant so it should come back for years to come! 
  • Perennial food - This one depends on what zone you live in, but if you live in an area with four seasons, you might think that there aren't many foods that you can grow which come back year after year. Not true!! There are plenty! Many herbs - like parsley, oregano, chives, mints, thyme, and rosemary are perennial. Fruits like blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and grapes can be planted one year and enjoyed for many years after. If you've got the space for trees, you can grow apples, peaches, and pears. Asparagus is a perennial food as well! Planting perennial foods one year can give you a harvest for many seasons after! 
I'm definitely no expert when it comes to gardening - I love to experiment and learn from experience. I don't always follow all the ~gardening rules~ and I enjoy seeing what I can do differently. I do try to make sure that what I'm doing outside isn't having any sort of detrimental impact on environment though so I hope that this list helps or inspires you. If you have any other recommendations, please share them in the comments! Happy gardening!

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