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Find out how to make your garden more eco-friendly the economical way

By Marian Shepard
March 23, 2010

It may sound odd that a garden, whose primary purpose is to nurture plants, needs to be more eco-friendly. But sadly, it's true - a pretty garden full of blooms does not always equate to a garden that is healthy for the environment. In fact, it may actually be detrimental to one's local ecosystem.

But nurturing a planet-friendly garden doesn't mean that you have to spend a lot on it. With a few budget-friendly eco-tips, you can readily make your garden ready to contribute to the healing of the earth without spending too much money.

· One of the first things to remember is that one must avoid using chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizer in your garden. Find alternatives such as organic fertilizer, which are usually made from animal by-products or earth-friendly materials.

· Set up your own compost heap. Every garden should have one. A compost heap has two purposes - to recycle waste products from your kitchen and garden and to make fertilizer and mulch, both earth-friendly alternatives to chemical fertilizers. Not only does it help the environment my re-purposing waste, it also saves you the cost of having to purchase organic fertilizer. Most compost bins and starters can be had very cheaply, especially with the use of online coupon codes from earth-friendly gardening stores.

· Use traditional tools rather than motorized electric tools. That traditional garden tools are cheaper to purchase and maintain than their motorized counterparts goes without saying, but they also have the added benefit of not having to use fossil fuels. To top it off, these tools also give you much-needed exercise. If ever you feel that you must have a motorized tool. Try to purchase the most energy-efficient alternative tools available.

· Collect rainwater and use it to water your plants. If you have rain barrels purchased from a gardening store, they make great containers for saving water in until your garden needs it. But you don't really need custom-made rain barrels. Simple containers placed under your roof's gutters will help cut down on the cost of water that it takes to keep your garden green and healthy during dry spells.

· Grow your own garden-friendly animals. Some people raise earthworms that they then place in the soil to help aerate it. The worms also naturally contribute to the soil's richness by chewing up vegetable matter and returning the nutrients to the loam in the form of droppings. Many other animals are helpful to the maintenance of a garden - try collecting local spiders to keep pests in check, or ladybugs from a nearby field to control aphids. This regulates pests in a such a way that works with nature, not against it. Best of all, your little garden helpers work for free!

Ideas and Online Deals For a Garden That Blooms

By Alexis Andrews
September 16, 2008

My wife, three kids and myself have just moved into a new home: a four-bedroom, two-storey house located in the outskirts of the city. It’s a lovely place, simply but practically furnished, and I am in charge of developing an outdoor space at the family backyard to sort of put the finishing touches on this new domestic life. Planning can be a pain, so I am working on a few ideas and considering a good number of online deals to make this project less stressful and more affordable.

Using my architectural skills, I created a design of something that would serve as a place for play and barbecue. Play because my kids are easily bored indoors – video games don’t cut it for them, which is good – and because it’s healthy to be able to have outdoor fun, be it in a swimming pool, on a mini-playground on the grass, or a makeshift backyard camp with tent. Barbecue because – well, because it would be nice to meet our neighbors, introduce ourselves, and start new friendships in a relaxed, casual, albeit smoky and slight alcoholic atmosphere. (Yes, I am bringing beers, folks!)

Thus I am assessing the condition of lights and soils and shade and trees and plants; I am taking pictures, rendering new designs, reading magazines, listening to suggestions, and consulting relatives and colleagues. I am thinking of ways on how to provide for shade: a sun-resistant parasol? A sail shade? I am also talking to my kids about what they want: Do they want a place where they can nurse pets? Would they like a playhouse complete with a sandbox and swing set?

I have also looked up the Smith & Hawken website to find out which garden structures would be appropriate for my needs. They have plenty of affordable online deals – be it for garden structures (I love their trellises and English-style arches), window boxes, plant stands, terrariums, plaques, stepping stones, fountains, and other such materials for landscaping a backyard paradise. What’s nice about most of the stuff that they have on sale is that these are being offered to be shipped for free.

Of course, while designing and building, I am keeping in mind outdoor safety. It’s a must in households with children: such as mine. That’s why I am looking to build a small storage area – by refurbishing an unused gazebo located in an area near the garden – so that my power tools and equipment are out of my playful children’s reach. Oh, I’ve seen enough TV reality shows and documentaries to exercise precaution in the backyard.

My wife, meanwhile, is the one in charge of all things flora and fauna. She loves the job; I believe that she herself has been looking for online deals for sweet-smelling, double-flowering, butterfly-attracting stocks. Like lilacs, Susans, daylilies and campanulas. She is also researching on elegant but affordable planters, pots, urns, cast-iron trivets and caddies. I am very confident that with her work (and her wisely calculated budget), our garden will bloom – as does our love, marriage, and family life.



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