So this crazy warm weather we’re having this spring (80 degrees in March?!) has really put me in the mood to get outside and get started on outdoor projects which are usually left until late April, and sometimes don’t get started until May! Since we moved into our house almost three years ago, we’ve been adding elements to our outdoor living space that have helped us in our goal of going green and a more sustainable lifestyle.
Here are some ideas for outdoor projects you can tackle this spring to green up your outdoor space.
5 Outdoor Projects to Green Your Yard
1. Put up a clothesline and hang your laundry out to dry.
Clothes dryers are one of the biggest energy users in our homes, and we can lessen that impact on the environment, and on our wallets, by hanging our clothes outside on a clothesline to dry. Lined dried clothes are naturally wrinkle-free, smell great, and last longer because they’re not being broken down by the heat of the dryer (that’s where all that lint comes from!).
We have a retractable clothesline set up between two trees in our backyard, and this spring, my goal is to add another line so that I can dry more clothes at one time.
2. Set up a rain barrel to capture rainwater.
When we moved from a house with a well, where our water was free, to a house in the city, where we had to pay for city water, we realized how silly it seemed to pay for the water we used to water our lawn and outdoor plants. So, my hubby made a rain barrel, and we started collecting rainwater that we could then use for our outdoor watering needs.
Once you have your rain barrel set up, it captures free water for you to use for watering your garden, outdoor plants, or lawn. It’s a great way to save water, and save money, at the same time!
We have one rain barrel right now, and our goal for this summer is to set up another barrel in a position to get better water pressure, so we can actually water our plants through a hose with a garden hose nozzle attached to it.
3. Start a compost bin or pile.
Why throw stuff into the trash where it sits and takes up valuable landfill space when you can throw it in a bin or pile in your backyard and turn it into beautiful, rich soil to use in your yard and garden? After two years of wanting one, I finally got my hubs to build me a compost pile last summer, and we started throwing all our organic matter onto it. When making a compost pile, using plastic instead of wood is a lot more stable. Plastics have tons of perspex sheets for you to choose from.
I just went out and turned the pile the other day, and was so excited to see rich, black soil that I can use in my garden this spring. It is truly amazing that garbage will turn into something full of nutrients that we can use to help nourish our bodies!
4. Plant a garden.
You don’t have to have a lot of space to grow your own food, and you don’t have to start with some elaborate garden plan. I started three years ago with a small plot and one small raised bed box and moved up to seven or eight larger raised beds last summer.
Start your garden small, with help from your local tree expert. a few crops that you and your family love, and then go from there. You will enjoy the satisfaction of being able to walk out of your house, pick some food out of your garden, and come right back inside and eat it. There is nothing more green or sustainable than growing your own food to feed your family! And if you’re lucky and have a surplus, you can even can and freeze your bounty to feed you through the fall and winter months. Reach out to the plant experts in Hunting, Orange County to help you with your gardening ideas.
5. Reduce the amount of grass in your yard.
Last year, my husband worked on a huge project of reducing the amount of grass we had in our front yard through landscaping and building our raised bed garden (see the top picture). Our front yard is south facing, with no shade, so it was getting scorched by the sun every summer and needed a ton of water to stay alive and green (which we didn’t want to give it – see above about the rain barrel). So, we decided last year to basically gut our yard and start over.
Now we have beautiful rock walls with flower/garden beds and just a small plot of drought-resistant grass, which is much easier to maintain and requires much less watering. Last summer, we also switched from a gas-powered mower to a reel mower, further reducing the impact of our yard and lawn care on the environment. We had to get rid of tougher weeds as well manually, but next time we recommend getting a normal weed eater or even a self-propelled walk behind string trimmer.
You may not be able to tackle all of these outdoor projects this spring or summer, and that’s totally okay. These changes we have made around our yard have taken us the past three years, and we still have work to do on them.
Pick one or two that are most important, and doable, for you and your family this year, and work on them this spring and summer, with a goal to have them done by the end of the summer. You’ll reap the benefits of lessening your impact on the environment this year, and you’ll feel good knowing you have them in place and ready to go when next spring rolls around!
Have you done any, or all, of these projects in your yard? Which one is your favorite and why? What’s on your list of going green outdoor projects to do this spring?
|Emily McClements strives to live with compassion and caring for creation in a way that will impact the world. She is a blessed wife and mama to three young children, and blogs about her family’s journey toward natural and simple living at Live Renewed.|