More composting, less grass save energy and environment

Published April 22, 2007

Hot to almost cold and back to warm seems to have been the weather pattern the past couple of weeks. I really enjoyed the temperatures dropping for a few days. I think my plants did, too.

It was the perfect weather to work in the yard and I enjoyed working on small projects. I took the opportunity to groom my two dogs outside.

The older one, a shelty, just lies on the grass and I comb and clip her fur.

She usually naps during the process while I manage to extract a small bag of fur from her. I dig a small hole in the garden and bury her hair.

I figure that's better than sending it to the landfill.

We have been eating a lot of fruits and vegetables this spring, so I am back to burying the waste in the garden. I do have a few bare spots here and there in the backyard beds where I can dig.

I used to do it more often, but my bare spots are limited and I don't want to disturb the roots of any plants. You might think about this easy method of composting. It certainly lessens the impact on the landfill and your disposal.

Disposals are very convenient but they do use electricity and water, so burying your fruit and vegetable waste may be a very small positive step to help decrease the water and electricity you use.

The organic matter helps your soil and is loved by the worms in your garden.

If your lawn is looking like it is beyond help, you may want to replace it. This is a good time to resod if necessary. Turf is an energy glutton, but many Americans still want that expanse of green grass in their landscape.

If you decide you will be replacing sod, speak with a neighbor who has recently done the same.

If you like the job done there, ask for the company name and number.

It doesn't hurt to call a few companies and compare prices. I do think it is important to be familiar with a number of jobs completed by the company you choose. You may end up spending thousands of dollars and you don't want to be disappointed with a lesser quality sod.

I would ask you to spend a few minutes thinking about alternatives to grass, or at least cutting down on the amount of grass you may think you need. Make sure you plant the right variety for your yard, as this will cut down on the amount of chemicals and water necessary to keep your lawn looking its best.

I recently visited a residential garden where the grass was actually the pathways meandering through multiple and very large beds.

The width of the grass walkways required two swipes of a medium size power mower.

Lots of ground cover and a variety of differences in the foliage of the plants gave the garden much interest. The gardener had placed benches, tables and chairs in four locations in his yard.

The grass was watered with pop-up sprinklers and most of the beds were outfitted with micro-irrigation (drip). This meant less water use and not as many weeds in the beds as you might see with a traditional underground system. He is working on having all the beds on drip by the end of summer.

This homeowner might spend most of his free time gardening. But if we look around, we can often see examples of less labor intensive gardens that may be full of ideas we can use.

I must admit that I love large expanses of healthy, green lawn, but I also realize that is not what is best for our environment.

Over the years I have downsized the amount of grass in our yard, but I know I have more work to do in that area. If you have a new and different idea you have used in your garden to save energy (human too!) or lessen the environmental impact of this hobby, let me know and I will share it with my readers.