EcoBlog

The latest thinking on ecological landscapes. Useful tips to improve our environment

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Kim Eierman

Kim Eierman

Founder of EcoBeneficial!

Available for virtual and in-person landscape consulting, talks and classes.

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lady beetle

Top 20 Ways to Create An EcoBeneficial Garden

Wondering how you can give a huge “eco-boost” to your garden? Look no further. Here are 20 of the best ways:

1) Reduce or eliminate the “Green Desert” (lawn/turf).  It is an ecological wasteland.

2) Increase the health of your soil.  Everything starts with the soil:  healthy soil makes for healthy plants.  Disturb your soil as little as possible.  Leaves and compost are your friends.

3) Avoid synthetic pesticides.  Rachel Carson warned about them 50 years ago in “Silent Spring.”

4) Limit the use of organic pesticides.  Only use when absolutely necessary, and then, only sparingly and carefully.

5) Support nature’s pest control, beneficial insects, by planting a diversity of native plants to support them.

6) Tolerate some messiness in your landscape to support wildlife.   Dead logs, tree snags and brush piles are homes for many creatures.

7) Tolerate some plant damage in your landscape.   Valuable insects have to eat too, and they don’t eat very much.

8) Leave perennials standing through winter.  They can provide food and cover for birds and insects.

9) Plant more native plants to support your local ecosystem.  Native plants have co-evolved with each other and with the wildlife around them.

10) Think “plant communities” when selecting plants.  Native plants don’t grow in isolation.  Get to know the plants which grow together naturally, and plant that way.

11) Eradicate or reduce the invasive plants in your landscape.  Identify each invasive (a cooperative extension can help) and research the best timing and organic methods for removal.  Always try organic, mechanical means first.

12) When invasive plants are removed, replace them quickly and thickly with regionally native plants.  Competition is key to suppressing an onslaught of more invasive plants.

13) Limit exotic plants and know their limitations. They will not provide the same depth of ecological services as native plants.

14) Encourage biodiversity by planting diversely.  Bio-diverse ecosystems are more resilient to pests, diseases and climate change.

15) Avoid double-flowered plants.  They often have less nectar, pollen, and seed.

16) Select natural forms of native plants for best ecosystem dynamics.

17) Provide a water source for wildlife and insects.  This is crucial, but often forgotten in many landscapes.

18) Emulate healthy local natural areas in your garden.  Use nature as your reference for structure and plant selection.

19) Always plant the right plant in the right place.  Some plants are flexible about where they are planted, but many are not.  For best success, don’t plant a sun lover in a shady spot.

20) When choosing plants, find the beauty in ecological function.  Remember what Mom said?  “Physical beauty is only skin deep.”

Have a great weekend (and maybe do a little late season native planting)! from Kim Eierman at EcoBeneficial.

Photo: Lady Beetle (one of our great beneficial insects)
Photo credit: Flickr_ Tim RT

2 Comments

  1. Alex Zorach on October 14, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Native plants definitely make a difference. My girlfriend Kelsey and I recently landscaped a small flower bed in front of an apartment building in an urban neighborhood of Philadelphia, which is mostly paved over.

    We purchased some native flowers (always opting for straight species instead of cultivars), but also identified and transplanted some native wildflowers growing in vacant lots, things like Philadelphia fleabane, white snakeroot, and white wood aster (amazing what you can find growing wild in vacant lots).

    Towards the end of the summer we noticed an aphid infestation on several plants. But…shortly after that, a praying mantis showed up, and we watched it eating the aphids. We also saw signs that birds had been eating the seeds on the brown-eyed susans that we planted, and we noticed that the aphids from these plants were also gone as well.

    It’s amazing how quickly you can see the ecological results from planting native plants. Already we’ve also seen some of the wind-dispersed seeds from the plants we planted blowing out into the neighborhood, so we’ll be populating the area with more native wildflowers, helping to support the ecosystem all around as well!



  2. Kim Eierman on October 18, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    Thanks for sharing this great story! You are proving the point that every landscape matters and every plant choice matters. You accomplished so much in a small space in an urban setting. Fantastic! I hope that your neighbors take notice and become inspired to do the same thing. Thanks for writing.

    Best,
    Kim



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