Organic Landscape Design

Photo by Laura Leavell

Photo by Laura Leavell

These days many people are taking the organic route by trying to do seemingly everything as earth friendly and natural as possible. Organic Landscaping is coming back. Fifty years ago it was a necessary practice but with the development of pesticides and fertilizers, using organic methods for landscaping became unpopular. No matter what your personal political views are on the rise of organic use in our country, it’s hard to deny that organic landscaping has several benefits. Fewer chemicals in the yard where the kids play is one that caters to me as a health conscious mom. Plus, organic landscaping can be less expensive than inorganic landscaping. You’re not buying chemicals since the big push in organic landscaping is to use elements of the natural world around you for fertilizers, pest control, and general softscape upkeep.

Sometimes the word “Organic” scares me. I see big dollar signs and complicated methods, but with landscaping it is simply a return to the old ways. Use the natural elements of your area to design and promote your landscape. Here are some ways to make your own property organic.

For The Lawn
Purchase organic fertilizer for your lawn. The initial cost is more, but over time it requires less application which means less expense.
Practice aeration in your yard. Punching little holes all over the yard is better for grass root growth and will allow friendly bugs like earthworms to move more freely.
Try top dressing. Create a mixture of half composted material and half sand to spread thinly over your lawn. This is good for lawn rooting and will yield hardier grass.
Over seeding is the use of more grass seed for your lawn than you need. Use 1 ½ times more grass seed to allow quicker germination, thicker grass, and natural weed control.

For The Plants
Make use of native plants. Exotic plants require more time and attention and chemicals to thrive.
Keep soil healthy like nature does by keeping it covered. Use mulch or aground cover plant to keep moisture and nutrients where they should be.
Grow plants in conditions as near to their natural habitat as possible. Don’t put plants that love the shade in the sunny spot of your yard.
Grow a “monoculture”. A monoculture is a wide range of plants grown close together instead of a just one plant. This is a natural practice. Trying to grow one single type of plant can require chemicals to flourish. You don’t see wild roses growing in straight lines and beds by themselves out in nature. They are surrounded by other plants and work together to be healthy.
Practice natural pest control. Allow plants that harbor friendly insect predators like the ladybug to grow in your landscaping. This will reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides to keep your plants looking great.

I enjoy a great looking landscape. I’m discovering that a great looking landscape doesn’t always require the use of potentially unhealthy chemicals. Organic landscaping will give you beauty and peace of mind by using natural practices and materials for landscape upkeep and design. Let me know if you’ve had success “going green” with your landscaping!

Does Hydroponic Mean Organic?

When planning an organic garden, many people will ask about hydroponic gardening. It is often perceived that if the plants are not being grown in soil, that they must be grown organically. This is a misconception. Organic gardening and hydroponics really are not the same, although you can grow your vegetables hydroponically and organically. Just be aware that the vegetables you buy in the store may say they are hydroponic, but that doesn’t mean that organic principles were used to grow them.

Today’s video will get to the bottom of the hydroponic/organic myth and help you to understand what makes them different.

Remember that if you choose to grow your tomatoes and other vegetables hydroponically, you can still use organic methods in your greenhouse. You can use organic pest control and fertilizers to help your plants grow. You do not have to choose to use any non-organic pesticides to have a successful garden.

What are your thoughts on organic gardening and hydroponics? I’d love to hear them.

Beneficial Insects in Your Garden

When you think of insects and your garden, you are more than likely thinking about how to get rid of them. But there are actually some insects that are beneficial to have in your garden. These little soldiers can do a lot of good and you will be glad that you took the time to invite them to build a home in your garden. Some of these beneficial insects are the ladybug, praying mantis, beneficial nematode and the green lacewing.

In order to get the most from these beneficial insects, you will need to closely monitor your garden area. Be sure to check your plants regularly so that you will know when there are pests present. When you identify a pest problem, you will want to determine which type of beneficial insects will be the best solution. You will also want to be sure to release the beneficial insects when the pest population is low to medium. You must have a fast response to the problem in order to get the best results.

Here is a little information about each of the beneficial insects that you will want to purchase and introduce to your garden:

Ladybugs
Ladybugs are more than just pretty or a fun moment and a childhood rhyme. They like to eat aphids, thrips, spider mites, whitefly and whitefly larvae. They also love to feast on other plant pests which are considered to be sap sucking. Watching these insects in action will have you singing a new tune and requesting that they stay in your garden.

Praying Mantis
This bug is just plain cool. They are fun to watch and they are a huge benefit to your garden. They attack many of the flying and crawling pests that will eat your plants and flowers. Here is a short video that shows one of these cool bugs feasting on a potato bug:

Beneficial Nematodes
These are impossible to actually see with the naked eye, but the work they do is visible. These bugs prey on several of the soil born pests that can bring devastation to your yard and garden. They are considered to be especially effective on the crane fly larvae.

Green Lacewings
These insects make a great addition to your garden and you will find them to be especially beneficial. They feed on aphids, whitefly, thrips, leaf-hoppers, spider mites, scale crawlers and many more pests.

Introducing these friendly and beneficial insects into your garden can be a fun project. Most are fun to watch and it is a safe and organic solution to the pests that may plague your gardening efforts. What are some other non-traditional pest control methods that you can think of for your garden?