HHG Gardening Sept/0ct 2012

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Garden Compositions –

Eco-friendly Living

Last week I was telling hubby a little about the new company that I am going to work for, Landscape Services Incorporated (LSI), and the importance that the company has placed on green initiatives and “going green.”

Hubby looked at mesomewhat puzzled and said, “Isn’t every landscape company a green company because they are dealing with plants?”

Oh, goodness, my sweet, smart hubby has soooo much to learn. A green plant doth not a green company make. Eco‐friendly living, like the catch phrase “going green,” is often described as being conscious of how you work and live so as not to harm the environment and using practices that help conserve resources such as water and energy. So what does that look like to the gardener or landscaper?

David Beaulieu, in his About.com Landscaping Guide, has some good ideas that homeowners can implement that will help save energy and water. One idea is to change your idea of a lawn and convert more of your lawn space to beds filled with native plants or even vegetable gardens. I’ve seen lawns filled with dwarf mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Nana’) that are wonderfully enticing and very low maintenance. Middle Tennessee has a great resource for native plants at both GroWild (www.growildinc.com) and with Nashville Natives (www.nashvillenatives.com).

Another source is www.clayandlimestone.blogspot.com—the project of a local blogger with up-to-date information and good insight into growing with natives in our area. With a smaller lawn to mow, adapting the ideas of using a Reel lawn mower is a good way to not only promote clean air but is also a nice way to enjoy that clean air while getting some light exercise on this muscle‐powered machine.

Use plants to reduce heating and cooling needs by planting deciduous trees along the south and west sides of buildings and evergreen trees to block northwesterly winds. As much as 20 percent savings can be found by a using shade to reduce air conditioning costs. Our state tree, the tulip poplar, is a nice fast growing shade tree to use in these conditions, but black gum, oaks, sycamore, and persimmon trees are other good choices. Trees, shrubs, groundcovers, and ornamental grasses also help stabilize the soil and control storm water runoff.

But don’t just think of using plants outdoors!

According to “America In Bloom” (americaninbloom.org) plants can reduce office pollutants, reduce employee sick time by 14 percent , and have been shown to offer greater benefits than artwork in sparking creativity among employees. Hospital patients are reported to experience accelerated healing when exposed to potted plants in their rooms and when they have beautifully landscaped areas around the hospital. “America in Bloom” also reports that beyond the conservationist appeal, having an interesting median planting or border along roads can help calm drivers, slow traffic, and help to promote tourism and attract businesses.

Eco-friendly is as much about protecting the environment ecologically as well as protecting a socially welcome and economically thriving environment. So, Hubby, a green company—or a green family—is a whole lot more than just someone who is dealing with a green plant. Honey, it’s not easy being green.

Editor’s Note: Barbara Peake Wise is the floriculture director for LSI Nashville and the author of Container Gardening for All Seasons (Cool Springs Press) She brings her gardening expertise and experience to readers of House & Home & Garden™.  You can read more of Barbara’s plant musings at bwisegardening.com or follow on twitter@bwisegardens.

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