Toronto Lawn and Garden - Conserve Water In Your Yard
There are several things you can do to make your home "more Green", many of which can be done for just a few or a few hundred dollars. These can have a dramatic impact on your costs of home ownership as well as on your energy consumption.
In the garden
- Build a clothesline
Your clothes dryer is the second largest energy consumer in your house, after your fridge. While getting an old-fashioned ice box is not a viable option, you can build an old-fashioned --solar and wind powered--clothesline to reduce your power consumption, at least in the warmer months. The Ontario government recently passed a law that over-rode municipal anti-clothesline bylaws (enacted in the 1960s to for community beautification). You can buy a kit with the pulleys and clothesline, and need to install the pulleys by the house and other end of the yard (you may need to install a vertical post on the other side for the second pulley. Cost under $100
- Plant deciduous trees
Planting trees south, east and west sides of your house, provides summer shade, cooling both living spaces and the attic to reduce air conditioner costs (as much as 40% when the trees are mature), yet do not block valuable winter sunlight. Check with the local public works department for recommendations on best trees for your area (and which ones to avoid). Cost: about $50 per tree.
- Build a compost bin
Create a closed bin for your food scraps and garden waste, and let worms eat your garbage, and convert it into rich composted soil for your garden. Worms prefer a dark and closed container, which attracts fewer pests than an open compost pile. You can buy a kit or make it yourself. Cost under $100.
- Add a rain barrel
Install a barrel below your roof's rain spout, to capture the rainfall without sending it to the street's storm drain. Use this water for your lawn, your flowers or your garden vegetables. Cost: under $100. In Australia, houses are required to capture "grey water" the household's non-toilet water runoff, to be used for garden watering.
- Create a rain garden
When rain runoff is a problem, a rain garden, uses water diverted from your gutter water to a low area of your year, where water-tolerant plants grow. Depending on where you live (and how much rain you might get) this can range from just a few plants to a pond or wetland. Cost: about $100
- Use native plantings
Native plants have been growing in your area for thousands of years and have adapted to the local soils and climate. They can handle the amount of (or lack of) natural rainfall, and the length of (or lack of) growing season. These plants thrive with minimal care, unlike exotic plants, reducing the need for for water, fertilizer and pesticides.
- Reduce light pollution.
Install a motion sensor on your all-night garage floodlight. This saves electricity, unsettles intruders when the light automatically turns on, and provides a better view of the night sky for the kids.