Written and compiled by Fred Jaicks.
What’s in your backyard? Do you have a swing set for the kids? Do you have pool to keep you cool, maybe accompanied by a few patio umbrellas for decoration and to keep the hot sun off your skin? Whatever you may have back there, you should do your best to keep it in tip top shape. Not only will it look nice for guests, but it keeps the value of your property high. Conservation is crucial to the protection and sustainability of our planet, and there are many things you can do to help in your own backyard. Whether you have a huge backyard in the country or just a small bit of land in the city, you can do your part to conserve.
Composting: Composting speeds the process of decaying matter by providing the perfect breeding grounds for the bacteria and microorganisms that take care of the matter. When it is done composting, the “humus” can be used as nutrient-rich potting soil. A good compost pile has four key features: carbon (leaves, twigs), nitrogen (glass clippings, manure), oxygen, and moisture. Rain usually provides all the moisture that you need, but you may need to water it from time to time. To start building a compost pile, choose a level site in your backyard that is well drained. You then may choose the materials you wish to include in your compost pile – things like leaves, vegetable scraps, and grass clippings work well, while other materials such as meat scraps will only attract unwanted visitors. Compost piles can be little maintenance or high maintenance, depending on your involvement. Either way, a compost pile is an easy way to help conserve resources!
Mulch: Mulch is the best and simplest way to conserve in your own backyard – it only consists of placing protective materials over the soil. Materials such as straw, wood chips, stones, and brick chips can be used as mulch. Mulching your garden has a number of benefits, as it conserves soil moisture, reduces soil erosion from water and wind, aids in control of weeds, and maintains an even soil temperature. The type of mulch you use depends entirely on your preference, as all mulches are helpful. Organic materials such as straw and grass clippings are easy to find, and inorganic mulches such as pebbles look great in the garden. Organic mulches, however, do improve the soil, so they are the best choice if you’re looking to mulch your backyard.
Pest Management: While it might seem like eliminating pests from your garden would not aid in conservation, in reality it will ultimately save your garden and make for healthier plants and soil. Insects are the most common backyard pests, and damage plants by chewing leaves and sucking out plant juices. Many insects also carry diseases that can spread through your plants and ultimately ruin your garden. An insect identification guide can help you distinguish the bug so you can then research how to eliminate your pest. This detailed compilation of pest management guides can help you eliminate the unwanted critters in your garden.
Water Conservation: It’s very important to be smart when watering the plants in your backyard or garden, particularly if you have a lot of plant life. Water conservation is one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time, and proper water usage can make all the difference. It’s always best to water plants in the morning, before the sun comes out and evaporates your efforts. Irrigation systems, such as drip irrigation and even sprinkler irrigation, are the best for conserving water, but can be costly. Home gardeners should also look into plants that thrive in their particular climate. For instance, it’s futile to grow plants that require a lot of water in a dry area, as it will just be a waste of water.
Terracing: The main benefit of terracing your backyard is that it prevents soil erosion by shortening the distance that rain will travel before it reaches a level area. It also protects water quality by eliminating the dirt and debris that would be carried with the runoff. The best materials to use as a terrace are treated woods, rocks, and bricks. While terracing is a much more involved conservation practice, if you have a backyard full of slopes, it’s a great way to do your part in protecting the environment.
Tree Planting: Planting a tree is own of the most significant and rewarding ways to give back to the planet. They create homes for animals, improve air quality, and can even reduce home cooling costs. However, planting a tree takes a great deal of effort and maintenance. You should do research on whether or not the tree you select is appropriate for your area and climate, and also what purpose you would like the tree to serve. Once you decide on the perfect tree and location in your backyard, you can plant it! Reading the “10 Commandments of Tree Planting” will help get you on your way to make sure that you properly grow and care for your tree. After all, a big, beautiful tree is a resource that you and the environment will enjoy for years to come.
Whether you’re fully dedicated to conservation or are just looking for a few ways to do your part, any bit of earth-conscious thinking can help. There are many other simple ways to help conserve soil and water (just check out the National Association of Conservation Districts), so do what you can to help! Along with maintaining the backyard furniture such as picnic tables and umbrellas, using proper conservation tactics will ensure that your property is high-quality for some time.