We typically spend more time outdoors during the summer months than the rest of the year. So, we’re taking a slight detour in our quest to make your home as environmentally efficient as it can be. This month we’ll be looking for ways to go green… in your yard!
The first step to going green is probably the most obvious.
Grow Your Own Food
Having your own garden can be convenient, healthier, and more cost-effective. Plus, it also reduces greenhouse emissions, and reduces carbon monoxide in the immediate area. And thanks to our year-round growing season on the Gulf Coast of Florida, there’s never a time you can’t keep your kitchen and family stocked with fresh veggies. Summer in Florida is particularly good for sweet potatoes, peppers, lima beans and eggplants. Consider also planting a whole crop of cowpeas every few summers to help bring nitrogen and nutrients back to the soil. Organic seeds aren’t a must but can also add a healthier touch.
Cast a Little Shade
There’s an old saying that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago and the second best time is now. Until they get the time machine perfected, there’s no better time than now to do your part. Trees help purify the air, give wildlife a home, and offer shade to your home, reducing cooling costs in the summer. Of course, palm & citrus trees are popular here. But also consider Florida native trees that do well in our environment while minimizing water use. Acacia, red maples, strongbark, marlberry, and wild cinnamon (canella) trees are all good options.
Manage Your Water
And speaking of limiting water…
Timing is Everything
By watering your garden or lawn during the coolest part of the day, you’ll ensure that more of it is absorbed by the soil. That means less as well as more efficient watering. Be aware of any watering restrictions your community places on homes and follow those guidelines.
Not Just for Monkeys or Laughs!
Especially during our rainy season, collecting excess in a rain barrel allows you to spread out the natural progression of the water flow and conserve the water you have to pay to bring in. You can even build your own inexpensively. Just make sure that the barrel is properly sealed or you’ll end up with a nice mosquito breeding ground instead – another good reason to collect the rain rather than letting it sit around.
Leftovers for Life
If you have the available space, consider creating a composting area. Your scraps of food and leftovers become ‘black gold,’ enriching our sandy soil with more nutrients. You can even add pulled weeds and tree-fallen fruit to the mix.
Get ‘Reel’ Man-Power
This is a harder option to consider in our Florida heat and humidity and it’s not recommended for large acres of land. But if you just mow the ¼ acre most of us live on, consider going old school with your lawn mower – you know, without the motor! You’ll still get the exercise of a push mower with the added benefit of not using gas or oil to run and maintain it. Also, it’s easier to fix with fewer broken blades. And you can breathe easier too.
How about considering no lawn at all? Less watering, less mowing and these days you can use a variety of hardy, native Florida plants to make a fabulous looking yard without any grass to mow. You’ll also tend to see more butterflies, bees and other pollinators coming around. Sunshine Mimosas, Gaillardia, Silver Buttonwoods and Helianthus make for a beautiful setting. Use stone accents to compliment the floral or build a path through for a unique Florida yard.
Local Yokels are the Best
Instead of shopping for the commercially harvested fruit and veggies at Publix or Winn Dixie, look for a Local Farmer’s Market, Co-op, or Community Supported Agriculture Group. That way, you’re getting the freshest foods and supporting your local farmers. There’s often opportunity for honey, sugar cane and a variety of homemade citrus edibles as well.
The beauty of most of these tips is that they help eliminate the need for harsh chemical fertilizers and herbicides. If need be, look for natural, organic substitutes for chemical weed killers.
As for pesticides, Good News Pest Solutions is an industry leader in adopting 100% all natural solutions to common pest problems. We’ve found them to be far more effective as well as safe for your family and pets. Our clients from Bradenton to Port Charlotte can’t say enough about how happy they are with the service from our highly-trained staff. For more information, give us a call!