Think Ahead to Create Environmentally Friendly Landscape

Article excerpt

Byline: Joel M. Lerner Special to The Washington Post

Now is the time to formulate your spring garden plans. Before you design the landscape, consider ways to make your gardens more productive and environmentally friendly. Here are some suggestions:

*?Enhance your garden with self-sustaining native plants. Sustainable landscapes save energy, money and labor. Once natives are established, they can endure most conditions without synthetic chemicals, fertilizer or irrigation.

*?Install a variety of flora to encourage biodiversity for a balanced environment where wildlife will want to live because it offers food, shelter and nesting opportunities. One common request I receive is for plants that attract birds. They like blueberry, dogwood, hawthorn, holly, beautyberry, black gum, serviceberry and viburnum.

*?Restore the soil to a healthy condition. Amending the soil with homemade compost, other organic material or leaf mold does this.

*?Collect rainwater to clean tools, decks, a patio and cars, as well as to irrigate plants. Rain barrels are excellent receptacles for collecting rainwater. Low-lying areas or spaces near downspouts are good places to install plants with high water needs. Irrigate your plants with "gray water," such as bath and dish water and water used for cooking pasta or vegetables. …