“Personally, I can think of no greater barrier to a fulfilled life than any use of the word ‘should’…” ~ Michelle SlungI hate the word ‘should’. I cringe every time I hear it, or anything that implies it, especially when it comes to fun pastimes like singing, painting, writing or gardening. As with most creative endeavors, I feel that gardening is a very personal experience and no one else can really tell you how it “should” be done.
If you want to tend to the weeds and nurture them like prized flowers, then that is your prerogative. If you want manicured flowerbeds and neatly trimmed trees that, too, is okay.
In my yard, I welcome the bunnies and caterpillars and other critters that eat many of my plants right down to the ground but I certainly don’t think that anyone else “should” blindly adopt my style of gardening, especially if they would rather have a few more veggies and herbs for themselves instead of the wildlife.
The thing that makes gardening different from other creative activities is that gardening is not an isolated endeavor. Anything that you do to your landscape, from what you plant to how you mow and water, affects everyone else. There really is no way around that.
So, although I will make a sincere effort to avoid “should”-ing on you, I will, from time to time, provide information to help you can make your own informed decisions.
What’s up with the water?
Most of the things that people do wrong in a garden have to do with water, in one way or another. When you waste water or pollute water, you are affecting everyone’s water, not just your own.
Although residents of the Metro DC area usually have access to an abundance of water, conserving it is still important to all of us. An American family of four can use 400 gallons of water per day, and about 30 percent of that is used outdoors. More than half of that outdoor water is used for watering lawns and gardens. Nationwide, landscape irrigation is estimated to account for almost one-third of all residential water use, totaling more than 7 billion gallons per day.
Many things in a landscape affect the amount of water that is used, including plant choices and placement, use of mulch and irrigation techniques
As the population grows, demand on water resources will grow, too, which will eventually mean the need for expensive new water supply facilities. So conserving water saves you money now and saves everyone money down the road.
Going hand-in-hand with the topic of water conservation is water pollution. Everything that goes into the ground around your home has the potential of finding its way into local water supplies. Rain and irrigation systems wash pesticides, fertilizers and other substances out into the street where they find their way into our waterways. This is called stormwater runoff and it can harm fish and wildlife populations, kill native vegetation, foul drinking water, and make recreational areas unsafe and unpleasant.
Again, there are many things that homeowners can do around the yard to prevent and protect stormwater runoff and I look forward to sharing some of those tips with you.
I take care of my landscape the way that I do because my husband taught me that I “should”. That’s right. He says “should” a lot. And his reasons have nothing to do with making the yard friendly for visiting wildlife. In fact, all the visiting birds, butterflies and bunnies really came along AFTER I started taking better care of the yard.
Does it bug me when he says “should”? Well, it used to. But then we learned how much fun it can be enjoying the birds and the bees and other exciting things in our environmentally friendly landscape together. In fact, I rarely shudder at his “shoulds” anymore.
Scientific studies have proven that spending time in nature makes people nicer and more generous and makes them value their relationships more. So if you are looking for a new activity that you and your spouse can do together, all I can say is, creating an environmentally friendly garden has been a great bonding experience for me and my husband. And I really, really think you “should” try it.
Join me next time for "Six Things I’ve Learned to Do Around my Property so that My Husband Can Keep on Fishing"