Spring Garden Tips and Tricks

The days are longer and our plants are loving that warm sun photosynthesizing time. However much the plants enjoy this growing spree, our jungle of a front yard can only last so long. This Spring, green your landscaping routine by using less water, energy, chemicals, and best of all, our favorite type of green, money!

Be wise about watering: 50%-70% of a typical American family’s water usage per year goes to the lawn and garden. To save, make sure your sprinklers are set to water your garden, not the cement around it. You can keep your grass lush by not cutting it so short. Longer grass keeps the moisture in because of the shade that is crated by the long blades. Also, make sure that the ground is dry before you water it, more plants die of over-watering, rather than under-watering! Watering your plants midday, when the sun is at its hottest, evaporated up to 30% of what you sprinkled on it. Set your sprinkler for early in the morning, and watch your garden thrive!

Be energy efficient: In just one year Americans will use 800 million gallons of gas to mow their lawns. Even worse, we spill more gas trying to fill up our lawn equipment each year than the Exxon Valdez spilled in 1989! You have three options to mow your lawn; the most common gas-powered mower, electric mowers, or reel mowers – these are the ones you push by hand. Electric mowers cost about $5.00 USD to run all year, where as $5.00 USD will only get you two mows with a gas-powered mower. Reel mowers are practically silent, yet electric mowers make only one tenth of the noise that gas-powered mowers do. Push mowers also help you burn calories, up to 400 an hour! Also the grass clippings left over from a reel mower help fertilize the soil naturally, no Miracle Grow required!

Help the soil: To get rid of small weeds, like in your walkway cracks, you can simply pour boiling water or white vinegar on them. For peskier weeds there are many eco-friendly weed-killing options that won’t poison surrounding plants and the ground water. For larger areas, you can lay down old fabric or recycled newspaper to block the weeds from ever sprouting!

How to inspire the resistant, AKA my roommates

On the very first day that I moved into my new house in Virgina, I was warmly welcomed by one of my lovely roommates proclaiming that he didn’t believe in recycling. I asked, “How does recycling work in Virginia?” he promptly responded, “I don’t know, but there won’t be any recycling in this house.” Now, I am from one of the most community-based, liberal, Eco-conscious towns in not just Oregon, but probably the US too. I don’t think the idea of not recycling has ever really crossed my mind, much less being outright against it. So after a little more discussion I found that my roommate believed that it costs more to recycle then to make things from our remaining natural resources or synthetically.

That was two months ago. I have yet to convince my two male roommates to recycle, so I spend my evenings letting my crazy environmentalist inner bag lady come out by going through the recycling pulling out trash, and going through the trash pulling out the recycling. It is so mind boggling to me that recycling wouldn’t be innate.

So, how can I inspire my roommates without sounding like I am critizing them for their lifestyle? It is a hard task. I don’t want to sound like their mother complaining all the time. But how can I resist when they don’t fill up the ice trays but put them back in the freezer empty? Or when their dishes sit in the sink and stink up the kitchen expecting someone else, me, to scrub them? Or when they take 30 minute showers? Or when they throw their cans and bottles in the trash?

It is a delicate balance between just living with someone and being friendly too. I know that I use the least amount of energy and water yet I pay for a quarter of it all. This is when I start to think that it would be so much easier to just live on my own. It would be so nice to know that how I live is directly proportional to how much my bills are.

Learning to live with total stangers has been a chore. But I am starting to learn a little more about give and take. I have yet to have a moment with all my roommates at the same time, but my idea is to do a trade off for recycling. I am willing to sweep one a week, or keep the kitchen counters clean. I am open to suggestions.

Have any of you ever had roommate or even family problems trying to convince them to be more environmentally friendly? Any advice is warmly welcomed!!