What your drought-tolerant landscape could look like

Drought-tolerant landscapes are an idea whose time has come. Many homeowners in Austin get this. Here’s a look at several non-lawn lawns that may inspire you. While they almost all require getting rid of that pesky turf, they’re easy to maintain later on. Most importantly, they’re not overly thirsty.

Save nature and free time — install a Pocket Prairie

Are you weary of mowing, weeding and fertilizing that yawning stretch of lawn? Consider installing a patch of native prairie. A Pocket Prairie can reduce your thirsty conventional turf, replacing it with native grasses and flowers. You’ll be feeding butterflies and birds, and cut down your grass mowing obligations, perhaps to zero.

Natural ways to reduce mosquitoes in your yard

With the U.S. in the grip of possibly the worst outbreak of West Nile Virus ever, people need to do all they can to avoid getting bitten by the Culex mosquito that carries the disease and reduce the mosquito population in their yard…residents may be able to repel or reduce the mosquitoes living and reproducing in their yards by applying botanical oils that mosquitoes find disagreeable. A caveat: These products are no substitute for protecting your person (please refer back to the advice above). But they could reduce the mosquitoes breeding in and visiting your yard.

DIY drip line irrigation – an efficient way to water your home vegetable or herb garden

Drip line irrigation is a great idea for gardeners who want to save water and grow plants successfully.

By soaking the ground with water, the drip line approach mimics the effect of a gentle soaking rain, instead of battering leaves with a harsh jet of water like so many sprinkler systems do. More importantly, by slowly delivering the water to the soil and plants and not spraying it overhead the air, a drip line system can better target, and thereby reduce, the water needed for landscape or edible plants.

Healthy Stuff.org (and your mom) says don’t drink from the garden hose

We usually watch out for snakes in the garden. You don’t want to be caught unaware.

It turns out that the same could be said for your garden hose, which could be a snake in the grass when it comes to chemical pollution. Like most real snakes, it’s probably not mortally dangerous. But you need to know more about it, especially if you’re using your hose as a drinking spigot or to water an edible garden.

Healthy Stuff.org, known for testing common kids’ toys for lead, cadmium and other pollution, recently tested 179 garden products, including two types of garden hoses and four types of garden work gloves, for chemical contaminants and toxic metals.

5 reasons to quit using weed-and-feed chemicals

Ah, spring. You can smell it on the air — that bracing ammonia smell wafting off your neighbor’s lawn; the acrid odors at the local home store, where the first six aisles have been packed with heaping bags of the season’s poisons.
Hydramethylnon, glyphosate, dicambra, atrazine and 2,4-D.
There’s a little something to wipe out every potential lawn and garden interloper, but the most popular consumer weapons in the annual war on nature are the “weed and feeds.” These fertilizers-herbicide combos were conceived of more than 50 years ago in the US to enrich turf grass, while simultaneously stamping out invading weeds.

NRDC attempts to head off ‘weed and feed’ pollution

Just in time for weed-and-feed season, the Natural Resources Defense Council has filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to stop the use of the weed killed known as 2,4-D.
This neurotoxic chemical, infamous as a key ingredient in Agent Orange, is still allowed in products used to treat lawns, golf courses and in commercial operations.

Recycle your Christmas tree

Every year the holidays bring the same debate: Is it more eco-friendly to use a live fresh-cut evergreen or a reusable faux tree?

And the answer is that the most eco-friendly yuletide solution is to decorate a potted live tree, which is planted after the holidays.
The next choice would be to buy a live Christmas tree, and have it mulched after the holidays.
Pine and fir tree mulch is commonly used in civic garden areas or even as fuel. In recent years, people have come up with a variety of creative ways to reuse even whole discarded Christmas trees, according to the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA).

Thinking about food at the holidays: Why not grow some of your own?

This week, as you express your thanks for the good food on your table, you may want to also discuss how you can assure the future of healthy food.

Roger Doiron, founder of Kitchen Gardener’s International and the idea man behind the White House garden, extols the benefits of converting your lawn into a garden in this TedxDirigo talk. You will save money, help secure safer, healthy food for your family and put land into agricultural use on a planet that’s growing short of soil and water, Doiron explains.

Please feed the butterflies

We feed birds in the winter. But Americans have not been as aggressive about feeding butterflies in the summer.
The best way, of course, is to supply many varied and native flowers for your area. Plant those with a variety of colors and shapes — bright red and purple flowers rich in nectar in trumpet and cone shapes with sturdy “landing pads” — and you will see butterflies gravitating to your yard from spring through summer. Love the look of nature? Get really saavy and plant the vines and vegetation that caterpillars need also.

Thirsty front lawn? Get smart about conserving water outdoors

You may have to outsmart your smart controller to keep lawn watering in check (Photo: Viorel Railean, dreamstime)

You may have to outsmart your smart controller to keep lawn watering in check (Photo: Viorel Railean, dreamstime)

Using less water at home is a snap indoors if you have the cash. Just install modern low-flow toilets, a state-of-the-art washing machine and dishwasher and a conserving water heater. Outdoors, where 50 to 75 percent of residential water is consumed, the solution is trickier. Most people over-water their yards, but watering less may not be enough.

Page 1 of 212