Compost in the City — It’s GardenWise!

(A great post today from our Fabulous office manager, Stacy Baker)

Composting in the city can be done! Whether you have a yard live in a tiny apartment with no yard, here are some interesting and fun facts about “composting in the city.”

What is composting: It is a process that occurs when microorganisms, like bacteria and fungi, digest organic matter such as leaves, grass, and food scraps. The by-products of composting are heat, water vapor, and carbon dioxide, and at the end of the process you are left with a nutrient rich, soil-like substance called com post.

Why should someone start a compost bin: Composting has a lot of great environmental, physical, chemical, and biological benefits; it reduces the amount that you throw away due to distasteful orders, and fruit flies caused by rotting food. By containing it and disposing of it on your own property you use the “green” method to convert waste into useful soil, in which you can start a garden, or add to house plants as a natural fertilizer. For those with kids, starting a bin could be a great science project.

If composting intrigues you, below is a list of materials that you will need to start your own compost.  All you need is a good mix of green and brown materials:

*One part green (coffee grounds, kitchen scraps, etc.)*Three parts brown (leaves, paper, dryer lint, wood chips, soil, and cardboard)*One air tight container*Charcoal liners to keep the smell down if you choose to compost inside your house (your choice)*Biodegradable bags to put inside the bin (your choice but comes in handy if you are composting inside your house)

If you’re lucky to have a yard, try using Tumblers for composting. They’re made out of plastic, less labor intensive, keep the materials out of site and are great for small spaces. Since this does not have contact with the ground, remember to add a shovelful of soil to the mixture to increase the diversity.

If you don’t have a yard, have no fear!  There are ways to still have a compost bin. If you are the hands on type, try our method above and create your own. If not, there may be places located near you to you set up and even collect your own compost.  In DC there’s a wonderfulcompany located at compostcab.com. 

 

Go Green, Plant a Tree

Trees Create Green Living  

A thoughtful way to live a greener life is to make your landscape eco-friendly and  plant trees.  Planting a tree is one of the most immediate green steps you can take as trees absorb CO2 and other dangerous gasses while replenishing the atmosphere with oxygen.

Canopy trees, and Deciduous trees that  grow tall and full in the summer, will add shade to your home and help it stay cool in the summer months.  They will also allow your home to absorb warm sun light in winter.   In  addition to being good for the environment, adding  these trees to your landscape is an  energy saving step that will lower the cost of cooling and heating your home.   

Another group of trees to think about planting are Fruit bearing trees which will also absorb dangerous gasses while replenishing oxygen.  A big plus in adding some fruit trees to your garden space?  Your garden will become much more  productive.   While  enjoying your favorite fruits and saving a little money at the grocery store, you can also  donate any extra fruit you grow to those in need. Not only will you help others in your immediate community, but you’ll show by example how Green Living can give back, both locally and globally.

GardenWise on Gardening with Recycled Materials

 GardenWise on Recycling & “Green” Garden Design 

There are so many advantages to using recycled materials when creating a stone/hardscape garden project.  For the environment and your wallet!  We use recycled  materials, such as concrete for paving systems, recycled glass in stepping stones, and crushed recycled stone and granite for patio surfaces whenever possible.   It’s a great “green” step to take while creating your special garden space.  

An added benefit to using recycled materials?  The savings on the installation of a landscape design.  If I can incorporate  larger pieces of old concrete into a design, the purchase and delivery of new materials is eliminated.  Also eliminated?  The cost of removing and disposing of old materials.

If you think that you can’t afford to install your next hardscape project, ask about incorporating recycled materials into your design.  The savings may just be enough for you to go ahead and create the garden space you desire.  Just in time for spring and summer. 

“Green” Garden Sheds are GardenWise

Garden Shed Inspiration for Better Homes & Gardens

I want to build a new garden shed in my backyard this summer.  This is an idea I had last summer and it never happened, so I’m moving it to the top of the “to do” list for this year.  Most homeowners will agree, there’s no such thing as enough storage space.  There’s  a limit, after all, to the things you can stash in your basement and garage.  What I really need is a garden shed – one large enough to house a pretty big arsenal of outdoor power tools while providing organized space for everything from rakes and shovels to mulch and fertalizer.  All of my outside spaces are landscaped, so it will have to be in a somewhat visible area to the left of my water feature, above, one of the main focal points in my garden. 

I had an earlier thought of creating a shed with a “green” roof, and when  I came across this wonderful green garden shed on BHG.com , right, photo credit to Better Homes & Gardens, it pretty much made me realize I was thinking in the right direction.  Thanks, BHG, for giving me the  inspiration  when I needed it most!  

 

 

 

Shade and Fruit Trees are GardenWise

Environment and Energy Saving Tips — Plant Trees    

A thoughtful way to live a greener life is to make your landscape eco-friendly and  plant trees.  The addition of a tree in your land- scape is an immediate  green step you can take as trees absorb CO2 and other dangerous gasses while they replenish the atmosphere with oxygen.

Canopy trees, and Deciduous trees that  grow tall and full in the summer, will add shade to your home and help it stay cool in the summer months.  They will also allow your home to absorb warm sun light in winter.   In  addition to being good for the environment, adding  these trees to your landscape is an  energy saving step that will lower the cost of cooling and heating your home.   

Fruit bearing trees will also absorb dangerous gasses while replenishing oxygen,  and a plus is your garden becomes more  productive.   While  enjoying your favorite fruits and saving a little money at the grocery store, you can also  donate any extra fruit to those in need. Not only will you help others in your immediate community, but you’ll show by example how  Green Living and the simple act of planting some trees can give back, both locally and globally.

GardenWise on Making a Garden “Green”

GardenWise on Productive and Green Gardens

Many clients come to me with questions about how to take  significant “green” steps to make their gardens more eco-friendly.  The question I hear the most?  “Where to start?”  Here are five easy steps every person can take in their home garden that will help the environment and save you money in the long run on watering and energy costs.    

Reduce your lawn by half — yes, by half!  Replace your reduced lawn area with groundcovers that will provide beautiful colors and textures to your space, and add beautiful hardscape or some pourous paving which allow for surrounding plantings to soak up any excess water 

Replace plants with drought-tolerant alternatives that require much less water. 

Also replace exotic plants with native plants that can easily survive and thrive in the year round weather conditions in your area.  This will also cut down on the cost of replacing plants that don’t survive well in your weather. 

Add a deciduous tree (one that loses its leaves in Fall)  which will grow tall, and shade your home and roof during summer months, keeping your inside temps lower.  These trees will also allow for sunlight to enter your home during  winter months to help keept it warm and reduce your overall energy use.  

Make your garden productive by adding vegetables and 2-3 fruit trees.  Vegetables can be grown in former lawn areas, and trees are fantastic garden additions as they absorb CO2 and other dangerous gasses while  replenishing the atmosphere with oxygen.  You can save money at the grocery store, enjoy fresh produce, or help others by donating your home grown vegetables and fruit to those in need

 

Two For One — Shrubs as Garden Accents

Shrubs as Accents are GardenWise

Something I often think about is how to get as much as possible out of a garden space. I keep my eye out for multi-purpose planting choices, and like to include multi-purpose items.  A fantastic way to add a colorful and textural interest to a garden space is to use an eye-catching shrub as a garden accent, which will give your garden a additional focal point.

I was re-reading a 2100 issue of ASLA’s Landscape Architecture and came across a story about the very same idea — using shrubs as accents. I know, great idea, right? Below is the first page of the story (click once to enlarge) shows how a Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’ can be used as an accent to bring warmth to a garden space. The story, written by Marty Wingate, shows a wonderful picture of the ‘Color Guard’ which is used as an accent that provides a new seasonal focal point to a garden space.