NATURAL LANDSCAPING ON A SMALL SCALE
Many homeowners are looking for an alternative to the continuing efforts necessary to maintain the bluegrass lawn.
They are particularly uncomfortable with the application of costly herbicides and fertilizers. The shift to a more natural,
environmentally friendly yard with groundcovers, shrubs, grasses and colorful forbs is an inviting alternative.
Homeowners can volunteer with restoration organizations as producers of prairie and savannah seeds, beautifying their own yards in the process. It is important however, that plants producing seeds intended for restoration grow in separate areas from those purchased in nurseries, because it is necessary to keep the native stock to be used for restoration 'pure'.
People with small sites who enjoy 'digging in the dirt' may find the gradual approach to converting their lawns a less expensive alternative than a onetime project using a professional designer and installer. With this gradual approach comes the delight of experimentation with plants and their habitats. In addition, the maturing converted gardens can serve as plant nurseries for newly dug beds. Plants will teach the gardener where they like
to grow and will relocate themselves over the years according to changing conditions of sun and shade. An ecologist who has tended a natural garden in Park Ridge for 27 years finds that a garden flows like a river, it is ever-changing.
In the natural perennial garden, treasured sentimental favorites, even exotics, can thrive intermixed with native plants to create an aesthetically and personally rewarding landscape. Gardeners can even try incorporating food plants, such as herbs an tomatoes.
It is tempting to begin with quick-spreading ground covers and perennials in order to make a beautiful display at the start and prevent soil erosion. Showy plants such as the exotic, early-blooming dame's rocket, and later blooming native black-eyed-susans and purple coneflowers can be used to brighten a garden reliably in its first year. However, it is important to avoid the trap of starting with extremely aggressive perennials and groundcovers that will then require much time and effort to dislodge.
In the first year, generous mulching will keep precious water in the soil and deter weeds and erosion. Eventually, the native flowers and grasses should out compete the non-natives, which are not so well adapted.
US Environmental Protection Agency
A Source Book on Natural Landscaping for Public Officials
to be continued...
FROM THE EDITOR
TO PR READERS
In the first paragraph I did not mention golf. A criminal activity that should be strictly ruled. The amount of fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides to keep it looking healthy, is an abomination....in addition to water waste. There nothing more useless and sterile to the environment than golf courses.
I know, no one is doing it, where can I get some plants, how do I start? Start researching, check the cost of removing turf. Before you do that, start collecting seeds or groundcovers the same way I have. Any one with compromise, energy, stamina could do it. slowly but sure.