For some, a green backyard means beautifully manicured grass. However, having green grass doesn’t mean that your yard is truly ‘green!’ Many people are transforming their little slice of nature into eco-friendly oases so they can enjoy a beautiful gathering space that’s also good for the planet. Here are five ways to create your own green yard.
5 Ways to Make Your Backyard More Green
1. Use energy-efficient lighting
As lighting professionals, of course, we’re going to jump to eco-friendly lighting options! Technology is constantly evolving, and right now there are great LED and low-voltage lighting systems that will make your yard glow without using a lot of electricity.
LED bulbs are extremely energy-efficient using 80% less energy than halogen bulbs. In addition, LEDs last longer, which reduces waste from burnt-out bulbs. If you don’t select LEDs, other low-voltage lighting systems can still be incredibly energy-efficient. They use about one-third of the energy of a traditional high-voltage system, and they are also more durable and less prone to water damage. These savings are not only environmentally-friendly, but they’re also budget-friendly!
2. Create a wildlife habitat
Invite wildlife to enjoy your backyard with you by adding plants that are good sources of habitat and food! Native plants are best for this, so find out what plants are native to your region and create a haven for butterflies, pollinators, rabbits, birds, and more! Native plants also save you time and money, because they are very hearty and they don’t require as much maintenance as some of the more delicate exotic plants do. In addition, they’re more water-efficient, which we’ll get into later. If you’re particularly interested in attracting monarch butterflies, plant milkweed to provide them with food. You could also consider adding bird feeders to bring in all kinds of birds to observe.
3. Reuse and repurpose
If you’re thinking of throwing out old furniture or yard décor, take a second look! Some items may still be perfectly useable, even if they look old and run down. Get creative and find a way to give new life to an old piece. You could take worn and weathered indoor furniture outside for a rustic feel, or put a fresh coat of paint and new pillows on your aging patio set. For adventurous crafters, you could even take apart old items to make them into something new, like planter boxes or shelving.
4. Be water-wise
According to the National Wildlife Federation, landscaping sucks up 50-70 percent of our residential water use, and there are approximately 20-30 million acres of grass lawns in the United States! In order to reduce your water use, consider shrinking the grass area in your yard and replacing it with something a little more eco-friendly. As we mentioned above, native plants are a great choice because they don’t need intensive watering, like other species. Native plants can typically survive off the normal precipitation in the region. You could also explore xeriscaping, which is the concept of using drought-resistant plants and designing your yard to use as little water as possible.
In addition to tailoring your plant selections for a water-efficient yard, there are other ways to conserve water, like installing a rain barrel or a rain garden. Rain barrels are placed under a downspout at your house to catch the water that runs off your roof when it rains. You can then use this collected water for your plants or your yard, instead of turning on the hose. This water is healthier for plants and it also prevents rainwater from rushing off of your roof, causing erosion and polluting streams. Fairfax County offers rain barrels to purchase, as well as workshops to make your own barrel.
5. Use responsible and sustainable materials
When adding landscaping features to your yard, opt for eco-friendly materials. For example:
- Use recycled mulch made from trees and yard waste instead of buying fresh mulch. Fairfax County even offers recycled mulch for free.
- Choose sustainably harvested wood. Look for the Forest Stewardship Council certification to be sure your supplier is practicing responsible forest management.
- Find recycled materials whenever possible. Everything from plastic bags to newspapers is being recycled and turned into building materials. This is not only eco-friendly, but it’s also a great way to have a unique and interesting yard!
- Install pervious pavers, which allow water to seep through the paved surface to absorb naturally into the ground.
Creating an eco-friendly yard is a fun way to give your outdoor space a responsible upgrade. When it’s done, you can enjoy the new amenity while feeling good knowing you’ve done the planet a favor!
If you’re interested in LED or low-voltage lighting, contact us to find out how to get started!