Yard & Garden

Water your lawn only when necessary. - If you step on your lawn and it stays flat rather than springing back, it is ready for watering. Water during the early parts of the day and avoid watering when it is windy. Position your sprinklers so water lands on the lawn or garden, not on paved areas.

Deep-soak your lawn. - When watering the lawn, do it long enough for the moisture to soak down to the roots where it will do the most good. A light sprinkling can evaporate quickly.

Plant drought-resistant shrubs and plants. - Many beautiful shrubs and plants thrive with far less watering than other species. Native and “well adapted” shrubs and flowers are also a good choice.

Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants. - Mulch will slow evaporation of moisture while discouraging weed growth.

Don't run the hose while washing your car. - Clean the car using a pail of soapy water. Use the hose only for rinsing.

Check for leaks in pipes, hoses, faucets and couplings. - Leaks outside the house may not seem as bad since they're not as visible, but they can be just as wasteful as leaks indoors. Check frequently to keep them drip-free.

Switch to an electric mower.

Use a fertilizer with time-released, water insoluble nitrogen. - These fertilizers are less likely to burn your lawn with excess nitrogen, and slow-release allows the roots to absorb the nutrients as needed. In most instances, choose fertilizers containing at least 35% - 50% of their nitrogen supply in the "slow-release" form, such as sulfur-coated urea, methylene urea or various natural organic products. With fast-acting fertilizers, some nutrients are washed away with watering or rain, and the wasted fertilizer pollutes ground water supplies.

Fertilize once or twice a year. - This is sufficient for an attractive lawn. Cool season grasses are semi-dormant in the summer, thus fertilizing during summer will be ineffective. Fertilizing in early fall promotes vigorous lawn growth the next spring.

Keep pesticide/herbicide use to a minimum. - Pesticides kill the soil organisms which contribute to a healthy lawn. The sooner you remove harsh chemicals, the faster your soil will recover. Repeated past use of toxic chemicals may have destroyed the microbiotic life that exists in healthy soil; it will take time, at least a season, for the soil to begin to recover. If lawn chemicals are used, clean out pesticide and fertilizer applicators and empty containers on the lawn (delete comma) where the residue will be utilized. Do not clean out on sidewalks or driveways, or residue will go directly into water supplies.

'Spot-treat' weeds with vinegar to minimize herbicide use. - Where only a few scattered broadleaf weeds such as dandelions or plantain are present, consider spot-treating individual weeds with household vinegar rather than applying a broadcast treatment of an herbicide over the entire lawn. (Vinegar can burn grass and garden plants, so be sure to spot treat weeds only.) Physically pulling or cutting weeds is also effective; remove as much of the root system as possible to reduce the chance of regrowth.

Select natural, non-toxic ways to control insect pests.

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