If you’re new to doing things in an environmentally friendly way, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed at all the guidelines about what you should and shouldn’t do. From where to buy your clothes, to what kind of diet to eat, to how to get to work, there’s a lot to learn. And when it comes to taking care of your backyard, an eco-friendly approach can be just as intimidating. Here are a few simple upgrades you can start with, ensuring your back yard is a lot greener in every sense.
Switch to solar lights
If you’re looking for a way to ease into making your backyard greener, start by switching up your lighting. Lighting is a key part of most outdoor spaces, particularly if you plan to use them in the evening or during the cooler months, and it plays as important a role for safety as well as any aesthetic considerations. But there’s no need to let your outdoor lighting take a toll on the planet when there’s ready access to the sun. Swap as much as you can for solar powered options. If you need to leave some electrically powered lights in place, try to choose LED or other energy efficient options to minimize their energy dependence as much as possible.
Grow native plants
One of the most important aspects of an eco-friendly outdoor space is ensuring you’re choosing plants that are native to your state or region. Native plants are already naturally adapted to the environment, which means they’ll require less intervention, less water, and less overall maintenance. While we’re not suggesting ripping existing healthy plants out of your yard, it is a good way to reduce water usage. A good time to add native plants is if you’re in the market for new additions to your garden or if you’re re-landscaping anyway.
Plenty of people use sprinkler systems or heavily rely on their hoses to keep their lawns and flower beds looking healthy. So, you’re not alone if this is something you’ve been doing too. If you’re looking for an eco-friendly upgrade, simply swap your sprinkler system for nature’s very own system – rainwater. Collect rainwater in a barrel for those weeks where natural rainfall simply isn’t enough. Be sure to check local laws, because as unbelievable as this may be, there are actually some places where rain barrels are not permitted. Alternatively, if you can’t bear to part with a sprinkler system, choose a ‘water-efficient’ option, which will help to minimize the amount of water used.
Upgrade your patio furniture
Of course, upgrading your patio furniture just for the sake of it is rarely a ‘green’ option, unless you’re recycling your existing set or giving it away to a friend or a family member for reuse. But, if you’re simply due for an upgrade or don’t yet own patio furniture, you can make your backyard greener by opting for furniture made from sustainable materials. A little extra effort, while you’re shopping, will help you confirm that the set you’ve chosen is made from sustainably sourced wood, or wood that grows rapidly and is even considered invasive, such as acacia. And don’t shy away from plastic sets if they’re made from recycled materials discarded by places like Grease Cycle.
Put an eco-friendly spin on essentials
Finally, don’t forget that you can find an eco-friendly angle for many of your backyard essentials – even the ones that aren’t traditionally ‘green’. For example, BBQ islands can be made a little greener by ensuring that you’re grilling organic, locally produced food on them – an important consideration even if you’re not able to use eco-friendly fuels with your outdoor cooking equipment. And, try to use your fuel – whatever its eco credentials — in a more sustainable way too. For example, you can use lump charcoal, skip the lighter fluid and reuse the charcoal when you’re done. That way, you’ll get to enjoy delicious grilled food, prepared and devoured in the great outdoors in a way that does as little damage to the planet as possible.
Implement these green ideas for your back yard and see if you notice a difference over the next year.