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Master Gardener: Tips for green living

If you’ve got the space, why not keep a small flock of ducks? They provide cheap entertainment with their cute waddling, wee little ones and eat both bugs and slugs. Also think about installing more housing for birds - their diet includes a wide array of insect pests.

Use that old rake! It’s good exercise for the body and helps keep the air you breathe a little cleaner when you don’t succumb to using the leaf blower. Commercial gas-powered blowers can generate almost as much carbon emissions as light-duty vehicles. Likewise, get acquainted again with the old hand saw and trimmers. Do without small-engine yard equipment as much as possible - it exhausts as much as 30% of its fuel mix unburned.

I know. You’re like me and you just won’t give up the riding lawn mower. You don’t have to, but think in terms of cutting back on grass mowing when planning any new landscape projects - grow areas of native plants, evergreens and shrubs or groundcovers (that only have to be mowed once a season); add rock features or other water-free landscaping. Or let that grass grow just a bit taller this summer before mowing.

Plant a garden. Takes away from mowing and we all know how rewarding growing your own produce is. Not to mention that exercise element. Practice composting by using disgarded leaves, yard clippings and kitchen scraps to produce natural fertilizer for garden and flower beds. Much energy goes into the production, packaging and delivery of commercial fertilizer.

Practice proper maintenance on garden tools so that you don’t have to replace them as often. And if you need a tool, ask a gardening friend. Chances are they have one too many of the item you need.

If planning to install or replace outdoor lighting, think solar. Install motion sensors on porch lights so they pop on only when needed.

As much as half the water used in a household goes to gardening and outdoor activities. Think about using rain barrels to collect water run-off from your roof. Sweep the drive way down instead of washing it. Think drought-tolerant when purchasing plants. Keep your pool’s water level a little lower this swnmer.

Take care in how you fill your lawn machinery’s gas tanks - the E.P.A. estimates that Americans carelessly spill more gas every summer doing such, than the amount of oil that was spilled in 1989 by the Exxon Valdez oil tanker off the coast of Alaska.

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