1. Mulch your flower beds and trees with 3″ of organic material – it conserves water, adds humus and nutrients, and discourages weeds. It gives your beds a nice, finished appearance.
2. Mulch acid-loving plants with a thick layer of pine needles each fall. As the needles decompose, they will deposit their acid in the soil.
3. The most important step in pest management is to maintain healthy soil. It produces healthy plants, which are better able to withstand disease and insect damage.
4. Aphids? Spray infested stems, leaves, and buds with a very dilute soapy water, then clear water. It works even on the heaviest infestation.
5. Compost improves soil structure, texture, and areation, and increases the soil’s water holding capacity. It also promotes soil fertility and stimulates healthy root development.
6. Look for natural and organic alternatives to chemical fertilizers, such as the use of compost. Our use of inorganic fertilizer is causing a toxic buildup of chemicals in our soil and drinking water.
7. When buying plants for your landscape, select well-adapted plant types for your soil, temperature range, and sun or shade exposure.
8. Landscaping your yard is the only home improvement that can return up to 200% of your original investment.
9. Plant trees! They increase in value as they grow and save energy and money by shading our houses in the summer, and letting the sun shine through for warmth in the winter.
10. Think of trees and their locations as the walls and roofs of our outdoor rooms, when you are planning their locations and sizes.
11. Grass won’t grow? Find an appropriate ground cover for the exposed earth and fill the problem space, creating an interesting bed shape.
12. Plant vines on walls, fences, and overhead structures for quick shade, vertical softening, and colorful flower displays.
13. If gourmet cooking is in your plans, organically grown herbs make wonderful landscape plants. They flavor foods, provide medicinal properties, and offer up fragrances. And most thrive on neglect.
14. Shade gardens are low maintenance – they require less watering, slower growth, and fewer weeds to fight.
15. Everyone loves flowers! Annuals are useful for a splash of one-season color. But since replacing them each year is expensive, concentrate them in just a few spots.
16. There is no need to work the soil deeply when adding compost or soil amendments. Eighty five percent of a plant’s roots are found in the top 6″ of soil.
17. The best organic matter for bed preparation is compost made from anything that was once alive, for example leaves, kitchen waste, and grass clippings.
18. Dig an ugly hole when planting a tree or shrub. A hole with “glazed” sides from a shovel will restrict root penetration into the surrounding soil.
19. Planting from plastic containers? Carefully remove the plant and tear the outside roots if they have grown solidly against the container.
20. Think of mulching as “maintaining the forest floor”: add 1″ to 3″ of compost or mulch to planting beds each year.
21. Natural fertilizers, compost and organic materials encourage native earthworms. Earthworms are nature’s tillers and soil conditioners, and manufacture great fertilizer.
22. Bare soil should not be visible around a new planting. Always cover with a layer of mulch, any coarse-textured, loose organic material.
23. Think “biodiversity”. Using many different kinds of plants encourage many different kinds of beneficial insects to take up residence in your yard.
24. Organic pest control is a comprehensive approach instead of a chemical approach. Create a healthy biodiversity so that the insects and microbes will control themselves. Using natural products and building healthy soil is the best long-term treatment for pests.
25. Weeds? Spot-spray with common full-strength household vinegar, on a sunny day. It’s an organic weed killer that’s safe for you and the environment.