As those who have followed my blogs in the past know, one of my core beliefs is that an individual has the power to make a difference in this world. One person may not be able to fix all problems, or create instant changes globally, of course, but we do have the ability to create good things locally and this mounts up. Since I also believe that everything is connected to everything else, you can understand why I think that it’s important to take what actions we can, even in small arenas.
I just returned from Seattle, where spring is in full force, and I know that the growing season is underway in other parts of the country as well. So even though my gardens are being covered in more snow today I want to focus on 8 ways that individual gardeners and homeowners can make a difference by what they do in their yards and gardens. This list includes some very local (individual) benefits as well as those that will contribute to community and global change.
- Be sure that your landscape includes a wide assortment selection of plants, including many that are native to your area. When yards and gardens are planted for diversity it helps pollinators, beneficial insects and wildlife.
- Leave at least a small pocket on your yard to go to “weeds.” You can cut them down once a year in the spring, and cut out any invasive vines, shrubs etc that you see, but having spaces where a community of grasses and weeds can thrive provides habitat for birds, butterflies and hundreds of other small critters.
- Never apply a pesticide in your yards and gardens unless you truly need it. If you have a problem with a plant, get an accurate diagnosis before you apply any treatment, and consider the option of doing nothing.
- Avoid a mono-culture lawn. Turf that’s made up of only grass was a late-twentyish century style, but it’s a fashion we can no longer afford.
- Grow vegetables. Once you taste how great freshly picked veggies are you’ll have a hard time doing without them. How does this make a difference? You can share your crops with others, and your example will encourage others to do the same. Gardening is contagious!
- Grow flowers for cutting and have fun distributing “give away bouquets.” Cut small bunches of flowers, tie them with a cord or ribbon, and give them to strangers, acquaintances, or friends. Drop one in the drive-up window, hand flowers to a toll-taker or grocery clerk, and leave a bunch on a receptionist’s desk.
- Spend 15 minutes a day in your garden. Pull a few weeds, snip a stray branch or wilted flower, or put a new plant in a pot on the terrace or patio. You’ll be healthier and happier for even this brief bit of garden maintenance, and your yard will look better too.
- Spend another 15 minutes a day just looking at your yard and garden. Observe the natural world that’s in your own backyard. Make it a ritual with your favorite beverage in the morning, mid-day or evening…whatever works into your schedule the best. If you’ve got kids, make this part of the family routine, perhaps with a pair of binoculars for observing plants, bugs and birds from afar.