Ryan Connolly We ended last week talking about how to reduce energy consumption and live "green" outside your home. We continue those tips today with the following ways to care for the environment while toying in the yard this Spring, Summer and Fall:

Reduce chemical herbicides and pesticides - Our wars against weeds and garden pests have been fought fiercely and we've pulled out all the stops. But to reduce environmental pollution, consider alternatives to chemical herbicides and pesticides. Some "weeds" make effective garden filler, while reconsidering the types of plants you wish to grow on your landscape can also be effective at deer control simply by selecting plants that aren't appealing to deer.

Reduce chemical fertilizers - It's very simple for homeowners to switch to a natural approach when it comes to providing the landscape with nutrients. For example, by using mulching mowers, you can let the grass clippings fall where they may, acting as an organic fertilizer. If you do not own a mulching mower, you can compost your grass clippings. But don't stop there. Get into the habit of composting as much as you possibly can.

Composting - This is a terrific way to reduce environmental pollution. You'll also be reducing the amount of unneccessary material being transported into landfills. Note that compost holds many virtues beyond its ability to fertilize the plants in your yard. Compost also helps with aeration in soil, as well as helping soil retain water better -- so that you won't have to water as much. Successful composting depends on the proper mix of "green" material and "brown" material. The former provides nitrogen, the latter carbon. With proper air circulation and moisture in yourcompost bin, a mix of two parts green to one part brown should decompose fairly quickly. There's a ready supply of both green and brown materials in the average household. Kitchen scraps such as orange and banana peels, for instance, would be considered "green," while fallen leaves would be "brown." So you can use the leaves you rake in autumn for compost, as well as for a mulch.

Reduce the waste your plants arrive in - What's left behind after a new planting? All those plastic flats and pots. Since annuals last only one year, you'll have the same sort of waste to deal with next year, too. One solution is to switch to perennial flowers. Some perennials last many years. In some cases, they even spread readily, giving you new plants for free.

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