Listen to Mother Nature
It’s fine to want something exotic and pretty in your garden, but planting native species can do a world of good. Not only will you help stop the spread of invasive species that are choking out native plant life, but you’ll also help support the ecosystem. Case in point? Milkweed and monarch butterflies. This species used to be extremely common (I have memories of it growing in the hydro field behind my house), but is now rapidly disappearing. Milkweed is the main food source of the monarch butterfly; as the milkweed near my house disappeared, so have the butterflies. Keeping native plants in your garden can help keep native species thriving.
For the birds
Birds are a crucial part of our ecosystem, and deserve a nice place to stay. Why not make it your garden? Set up bird feeders, birdbaths and even birdhouses (click here for a kid-friendly plan) to encourage a wide variety of species to come and stay in your garden.
Tired of being bitten by mosquitoes when gardening? Invite a bat to come and live in your backyard by building a bat box (for an easier plan, click here and download the bat box pdf). The small brown bat and large brown bat are the most widely found bats in Canada, and they love to eat those pesky skeeters. Since they are nocturnal you probably won’t see them in action, but bats can eat between 500 to 1,000 mosquitoes per hour. Just think: That’s thousands of mosquitoes eaten a night!
Weeds are the freeloaders of the garden world, and although it might be backbreaking to get them out if they’re already established, you’ll thank us for the advice later (here are some handy tips to make the job easier). Not only will your plants grow better, thanks to less competition for nutrients in the soil, but you’ll also have to water less, as all the water will go to the plants you want to grow, not the ones you don’t.
A push mower is more than just retro-chic, it’s also eco-chic. Gas or electric mowers are noisy and, in the case of gas mowers, pollutants. With a push mower, you get exercise, a Zen moment (that swishy sound the blades make is very relaxing) and the knowledge that you are saving on gas/electricity while saving the environment.
Keep it covered
Mulch is officially the superhero of the garden. When used in the winter, it protects plants from frost heave and insulates them over the cold months. In spring and summer, it regulates soil temperature, controls weeds and prevents water loss in the hot and humid days. What can’t it do?
Here, kitty, kitty, kitty…
Have you seen the variety of contraptions (this, for example) designed to keep your cat from doing its business in other people’s gardens? Do everyone a kindness by keeping Kitty indoors (or at least in your own garden). It’s a prime example of thinking globally, acting locally.
Reduce, reuse and recycle
Chances are, there’s at least one upcoming project in your garden that’s going to need some wood, whether it’s a fence or a garden bench. Make smart choices when it comes to wood: it may be more expensive, but cedar is an eco-friendly alternative to the cheaper pressure-treated lumber commonly available. Cedar is naturally durable, resists insect attacks and decay, and is also less likely to warp. For even better eco-benefits, use recycled or reclaimed lumber when available to save trees and add character to your projects.