Five Steps to Lowering Your Landscape Carbon Footprint
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The EcoLandscape Group Program is designed to be implemented in your landscape step by step. We hope they help you to gain real tool you can use in your life and reduce your carbon footprint and landscape maintenance costs. The system is simple and easy to follow. Most landscape maintenance programs consist of artificial fertilizers, lots of mowing, and lots of watering. It seems like these few steps would make maintenance simple. However, too much fertilizer, water, and mowing causes so many problems that this 'modern method' is less efficient, more work, and more costly. The Five Steps are designed to focus on the main aspects of maintaining any landscape. Soil biology and fertility - Active, live soil microbial life is the cornerstone of plant life and healthy ecosystems. Many soil bacteria and fungi actually create a situation that will self fertilize trees, lawns, and shrubs. By building the proper environment for soil microbes, your soil will come alive and your work load will decrease. Biomass recycling and regeneration - Better known as composting, biomass recycling keeps natural nutrition sources created by a healthy soils on site and recycles the active biology back into the lawn and landscape. By adding biomass such as kitchen waste to your compost pile, you will boost the levels of nutrients without using petroleum based fertilizers. Water and irrigation management - Water is the main reason plants grow. It's the main building block of all life on Earth. In most situations the more water that is applied, the more plant growth will occur. This is a problem when the growth is greater than the landscapes ability to recycle the biomass back to the soil. Thatching mowers can't handle too much grass. A compost can only take so much yard waste. Too much water prevents oxygen from penetrating the soil for healthy root growth. Soggy soils drown soil microbes and create a foul, stinky muck like a bog, or swamp. Proper pruning and mowing - Poor practices with pruning, trimming, and mowing are like having a bad cut on human skin that can get infected. Even if a plant is thriving in a healthy environment, improper pruning can lead to pest and disease infection. Trimming certain plants into shapes or sizes that don't fit their natural growth habit creates a situation that requires regular pruning. Pruning equals work. Power pruners equal carbon emissions. Pest and weed control - Weeds and pests are result of unbalanced natural systems. They are natures clean up crew. When natural disasters occur in nature like floods, landslides, fire, and drought, pests kill of the weak and sick plants, and 'pioneer species' we call weeds come in to re-colonize the area and establish a new balanced ecosystem. If a landscape has constant pest problems, there is a larger problem that is not being addressed. Proper design - Most landscapes are not designed with nature in mind. They're laid out according to a human perspective and in relation to architecture rather to what the micro environment needs. Square hedges, topped trees, tightly mowed lawns of only one species, exotic, over bred flowers with huge unnatural blooms all contribute to an unbalanced environment that triggers the 'clean up crew' (pests) to whipe out the sick and weak for the 'pioneer species' (weeds) to come in and start over. As the system is laid out in easy to follow steps, the simplicity of sustainable landscaping will become apparent. Learning Basic horticulture and establishing your score. Understanding some key horticultural principles is the first part of the system. By learning what plants need to thrive we can better provide those ingredients. Measuring and calculating your current landscape energy use will enable you to see the areas that need to be worked on or reduced. Understanding soil biology and regulating nutrition and irrigation. Water and nutrition are the key ingredient for soil biology and health. By controlling irrigation and enabling plant communities to live in environments that match their evolutionary requirements, less energy and work will be needed to maintain a healthy landscape or garden. Using natural nutrition reduces emissions and petroleum use in the landscape. Practicing proper maintenance techniques. Proper pruning and mulching helps plants resist attack from weeds, pests and disease. Improper pruning and especially mowing upsets the balanced hormonal and physiological processes that keep plant communities healthy. Controlling weeds and pests. If these first criteria are met, pests and disease are less of a problem or non existent. Re-Design. When all else fails, re-design may be needed. Be sure to match the need of the micro environment when designing a landscape layout and place the plant materials appropriately.