From proper mulching and soil testing, to proper plant selection and water conservation, Davey's own Shawn Fitzgerald suggests re-allocating resources and following routine maintenance procedures to save time, money and resources. He provided 10 steps to reduce your environmental impact in Properties Magazine.
By Shawn Fitzgerald, The Davey Tree Expert Company
Saving the environment doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Often simply re-allocating resources appropriately will save you both time and money. Here are a few quick tips on things you can do to reduce your environmental impact and save resources:
1) Proper Plant Selection — Using native plants and others ideal for your landscape conditions will save money and help the environment as they grow and thrive locally. They will also require less supplemental irrigation, pesticide treatment and fertilizer than non-native plants.
2) Lawn Space — Consider converting high-maintenance turf areas that are nonessential to curb appeal to low-maintenance landscapes. Planting perennials, installing mulch or establishing no-mow regions will save money and resources, including water and fertilizers.
3) Perennial Color Displays — Perennial plantings can offer the same visual impact as annual flower plantings with less cost and maintenance. The investment in perennial plantings often pays off in just a few seasons, and the flowers return every year — bigger and brighter. Perennials also can act as a personal nursery as you can divide them to beautify other areas throughout your property.
4) Proper Mulching — Using effective amounts of mulch can help retain soil moisture and reduce irrigation amounts. Mulch lowers soil temperature, inhibits weeds and is aesthetically pleasing.
5) Energy-Efficient Landscaping — Use of evergreen trees on the western and northwestern exposures of your property will cut down on exposure to winter’s penetrating winds. Deciduous trees on southern and eastern exposures buffer summer’s intense sunlight but allow winter rays to warm your home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a well-planned landscape can reduce cooling costs by up to 50 percent and heating expenses by up to 40 percent.
6) Soil Testing — Have soil pH tested so the most appropriate plants and turf are selected for your landscape. Soil rich in organic matter retains more moisture and nutrients and reduces compaction. Encourage soil organic matter buildup by using organic mulches, recycled leaves and clippings.
7) Check the Irrigation System — Auditing your irrigation system is the first step in making sure you get the best return on the investment. An effective irrigation system can substantially reduce water use, and usage of drip irrigation in lieu of spray heads cuts down on the amount of water lost to runoff and evaporation.
8) Water Conservation — Low-flow water devices have been shown to save water and money. Rain gardens can slow the runoff of rainwater, help eliminate overload on stormwater systems and reduce erosion.
9) Green Maintenance Practices — Where possible, revert to “old-school” methods of maintenance. For example, hand pruning shrubs instead of mechanical shearing is better for air quality and the plants themselves, and it allows the pruner to create a more natural shape. Also recycling grass clippings, leaves, shearings and other lawn debris will trim the expense for transporting materials to an off-site location.
10) Contact an Expert —Learn more about ways to make your property more environmentally friendly by contacting an expert such as Davey Tree.