Make landscaping easier on the environment, your wallet – and you

Woo-hoo – it’s finally summer in Alberta! All across the province, people are starting their mowers and planting their petunias.

Gardening can be a wonderful activity – but it can also create a significant amount of waste. Albertans send 500,000 tonnes of leaf and yard waste per year to landfills. That’s as heavy as it sounds – about the weight of 90,000 elephants! All the water used to keep our roses and grass green also comes at a cost.

Close-up photo of a grassy lawn

That lush green lawn might not be so “green” after all. Photo credit.

Luckily, there are lots of ways that you can make your yard ‘greener’, so to speak – and many of them will also save you money and time.

Xeriscaping keeps things local

Xeriscaping is a special type of landscaping that uses less water than traditional landscaping. Instead of exotic grasses that love water and require a lot of time to mow, xeriscaped spaces use hardy shrubs and perennials that are adapted to our climate.

Xeriscaped gardens can give us just as many benefits as regular landscaping. They can easily be designed to attract butterflies and birds – and they can incorporate fruit and berry plants to produce tasty treats all summer long. These gardens are also easy to maintain, requiring less water and less mowing time.

Photo of a fruit-bearing silver buffaloberry plant.

Native plants like silver buffaloberry are adapted to our climate – so they need less water. Photo credit: Matt Lavin.

Here are some easy steps to get you started:

  • Choose plants that are native to Alberta’s climate
  • Group plants together that have similar water needs
  • Plant drought-resistant plans in areas with south and west exposures – these areas typically receive the most sun
  • Use enough top soil (at least 15 cm) to ensure roots will grow deep and soil will retain moisture
  • Plant perennials first, then have fun with flower beds and borders—you can change these every year!

Not sure where to begin? Check out these resources: 

Not up to the full xeriscape challenge? There are lots of easy things you can do to make your garden ‘greener’ right now – many of which also save you money and time: 

  • Collect rainwater in barrels and use it to water plants.
  • Create a backyard composting station.
  • Mulch your grass clippings and spread them around after mowing – they’re like vitamins for your lawn! Check out this great City of Edmonton post for the how-to. If you must gather your clippings, try composting them rather than sending them to a landfill.
  • Design your yard to conserve water – pick plants that need less water and plant shrubs and perennials instead of grass wherever you can.
Photo of barrels collecting rainwater.

Using rainwater for gardening can lower your environmental impact and your utilities bill. Photo credit: Jan Tik.

By thinking green this summer, you can lower your water bill and spend less time mowing your lawn – which will save you both time and money. And in the summer, we’re sure you can think of better ways to use both of those things. 🙂

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