3 easy steps to care for you, your yard, and the environment at the same time.

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Did you know that every yard is a piece of the environment?

Photo courtesy of Louis Maniquet

We are all connected on this little blue ball, and no matter how much we want to draw lines in the sand, we can’t. The connection remains.

Everything that happens in your neighbor’s yard affects your yard and sometimes the yard down the street, the water system that runs under you, the air around you, and so much more that science doesn’t fully understand yet. Sometimes things we do on one-half of the planet affect areas on the other side of the earth.

What is your little ecosystem like, and how does it benefit or harm the rest of the environment?

Is it a place that helps you live happier, healthier, and longer? Does it allow wildlife to thrive? Does it support other living beings like plants and beneficial insects? Do the things you do in your yard support the environment at large?

Your yard is a tiny living ecosystem connected to the larger ecosystems in your state, country, hemisphere, and so on. The choices you make in your piece of the pie make a difference for the whole pie.

Are things thriving in your yard? If they are, this is a pretty good indicator of the health of your area.

If they aren’t, then you might have a problem or even a dying ecosystem. This isn’t good. But, you can figure out what is going on and help fix it.

Here are three easy steps you can take to increase your yard’s health and the ecosytems connected to it. Taking care of all ecosystems takes care of you and your family now and in the future.

Photo courtesy of Sergiu Valena

Step 1) Are you using too many fertilizers, pesticides, or chemicals in your yard? This could be the issue. Maybe you aren’t, but others around you are, and that is affecting your ecosystem.

If we think about our yard connecting to the next yard, and the next, and the next, we can see how each one contributes to the health or decline of the environment in general.

We all have a piece of the environment where we live. It doesn’t matter if it is a 20-acre property, a balcony garden, or a simple house plant in the bathroom. They are all part of the same system that contributes to the health of the planet and our environment.

The health of the environment translates into your health and well being. The healthier our environment, the healthier you are. So consider discontinuing the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and chemicals in general.

Photo courtesy of Ocean Cleanup Group

Non-point source pollution is pollution that comes from a wide range of places. What you do in your yard matters and contributes to this type of pollution. Ending the cycle of fertilizer, pesticide, and chemical weed killer addiction can help reduce and hopefully eliminate this type of pollution. You have the power to control this type of pollution in your slice of the pie.

When it rains, most of these chemicals are washed away right into our water systems. If you don’t want to drink it later, I don’t suggest putting it in your landscape.

Look at the dinosaurs. They didn’t get that big because their environment didn’t support them with healthy foods, clean air, clean water, and lots of room to expand—the health of the environment matters. When the dinosaur’s habitat no longer supported them, most of them were doneso.

Believe it or not, change is much easier than you think. Yes, this is very optimistic, but if we don’t start looking at our current situation optimistically, we don’t have much hope.

Even though it’s a bit scary, we must face it head-on and do what we need to do to reverse course and fast. Our health and the health of many other creatures on the planet demands it.

So with a high degree of hope and positive thoughts, all it takes is looking at each small area as part of the whole and acting accordingly.

Before you use the chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides from the big box stores (just because they had a cool commercial that said you should), stop and think about it. Do you really need it? Would you’re little environment do better without all that stuff? Did it thrive before those chemicals were created? The answer is a big fat YES!

Plants thrived for millions of years before that stuff came along, and they will continue to do so if we work with the natural laws that govern their cycles.

Allow plants to go through their natural cycles and don’t trying to push them with chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides.

It is a very tiny thing but has a significant impact on the health of the environment. Plants have been doing this for millions of years. I think they know what they are doing at this point.

A recent study by the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom believes that plants first came on the scene approximately 500 million years ago. That is 100 million years sooner than scientists first thought they did.

Plants are millions of years old you would think they understand their environment a tad better than we do, right? Work with nature instead of against it.

Photo courtesy of Sigmund

Step 2) Another tiny step is to plant more plants that enjoy the area you live in. Natives are fantastic and the first choice, but you can also grow things that are a zone above and below you and see how they adapt.

Remember, those millions of years have given plants the ability to figure things out better than we can at times. There are so many factors at work with climate change that you can’t possibly predict what will work and what won’t. You must do a little bit of experimentation.

You can’t force a living being to thrive because you want it that way. We must work with nature if we’re going to fix this current environmental disaster on the planet.

Choose plants that like the soil, air, temperature, and water supply in your tiny ecosystem. Taking time to plan first will save you time, money, and a ton of stress. It is also a great way to get in touch with your part of the ecosystem.

Watch how the sun shifts from the morning hours to the evening. Does it get full sun, a little bit of sun, or shade most of the day? That is a great place to start.

If it is a shaded area, you can eliminate plants that need full sun.

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Larson

How about moisture? Does the area stay wet? Is it dry? Does a lot of wind flow through?

One by one, you can determine which plants will thrive in that area. Don’t try to push for things that won’t succeed in the conditions you have. Mother Nature wouldn’t force a plant to grow where it isn’t right, and neither should we.

This little step reduces the need for constant maintenance, chemicals, and repeated replacements of dying plants. You want to pick plants that will do well in an area without as much input from you. This way, you can enjoy them more, and they can enjoy and contribute more to their environment.

Photo courtesy of Nicole King

I can’t tell you how many times I hear people say they want this (insert some exotic plant species here) to grow in an area where it will not thrive. They pay good money for the plant and expect it to live. They are usually pretty upset about it when it dies. I get that.

But take a step back and look at the soil, the sunlight, the natural water sources and see if those factors are things that would allow the plant to thrive if you weren’t there to take care of them. If they wouldn’t, then maybe that isn’t the best choice for that little ecosystem.

Why torture yourself or the plant? Instead, take a tad more time planning and then pick things that would do well if you walked away.

Photo courtesy of Clint Mckoy

Step 3) Another tiny step you can take to improve the planet’s ecosystem as a whole is to not kill off older large growth trees and plants.

Instead, plant trees that will outlive all of us.

Plant a 12″ seedling (baby tree or plant) in the right place so that it can live its full life out in that spot and grow to its maximum size, and hopefully very old. If you don’t want to trim too much, make sure you know exactly how large that tree or plant will grow. Plant it in a place where it can do its thang. Let it grow to its maximum size in the right spot.

Photo courtesy of Matthew Smith

Planting this way will be less maintenance for you and a happy, healthy plant and environment for years to come.

Every time we plant a new tree or plant, especially the large growing, long-living varieties, it helps filter the air, water, and soil and pulls carbon from the air. Planting large growth, long-living trees is a positive step for your little environment and the ecosystem it’s connected to.

The larger that tree gets and the longer it lives, the more beneficial it is to the system. Larger, older trees can sequester (or pull) more carbon from the environment.

This cools the ecosystem, and with enough of these large growth, long-living trees, and plants, the planet. We want more old-growth (long-living) trees and plants in our environment.

If you can’t do that, then plant things that thrive in your area with little input from you and live long and prosper (that’s for you Star Trek fans).

So you can see that the way we plant and the plants you choose for your yard, balcony, patio, and so on make a difference-a big difference.

Even something small like a house plant makes a difference. House plants contribute to both your indoor environment and your outdoor environment. It is all connected.

Photo courtesy of Veeterzy

If you planted a long-living, large tree on your property, then you are really doing your ecosystem and all that is connected to it a great deal of good? If you plant a long-living patio or house plant, you are still doing a world of good for yourself and those around you.

There are so many other benefits of plants and trees in your ecosystem and the environment at large.

They provide shade for your home (so you save on cooling costs)—shelter for animals like songbirds (who eat bugs and weed seeds), and cool the planet through transpiration from their leaves. Amazing sauce.

Trees planted in the right place can increase your property value too.

You can even use trees to protect your home from storms. If you want to know more about this, read this article I wrote about wind mitigation barriers for Mother Earth News Magazine (February 2021).

So as you can see, your choices have a significant impact on your personal environment and the environment at large. The more people who take advantage of all this goodness, the cleaner the whole planet gets.

It also gets a whole lot prettier, in my opinion.

Start with something small today. The benefits you receive will amaze you.

If you have more space, think about how you can incorporate larger trees if possible. If you want to plant large trees but don’t have space consider donating to The Plant More Project, and we will plant large growth trees for you.

Ever sit amongst the trees and feel right at home? That is another massive benefit trees and plants provide. They help ground and calm you. If you are calm and happy, you send that out into the world. That helps our environment too.

Trees and plants can not be underestimated. Without them, we are pretty much doneso too.

Photo courtesy of Adam Niescioruk

I encourage you to shout it from the rooftops and then go plant more, in the right place, of course.

So what is your environment like? It is a place you can feel good about? A place you can enjoy, relax, and breathe easy in? How do you contribute to the environment?

Let me know in the comments below. And if you have specific questions about plants or gardening, please feel free to post them below.

Have a great day.

Plant Power On!

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