Growing a Greener Garden

Gardens are used around the world as places of contemplation and healing. Whether your outdoor space is a balcony, a few windowsill pots or a large yard, a little green can make everything healthier for mind and body.

According to the EPA, we spend 90 percent of our time indoors, which makes any outdoor space all the more essential.

At the healthy home project, decades of overgrowth in the yard needs to be cleared to make way for some fresh plants. We’ll also be creating spaces for the kids to play and adults to relax.

Clearing out the overgrowth has taken over two and a half years, even with calling in landscapers twice to help with the larger bushes and haul away truckloads of debris. In the yard, just beyond “the field” there’s “the jungle,” a grove of invasive bamboo-like plants that are nearly impossible to eradicate. Not using pesticides means digging them up by the roots season after season to first thin out and then ensure nothing grows back. The plumber just happens to have a roto-tiller and has been enlisted to ready the space for a fresh start.

Fitting in landscaping to an already full schedule just means getting things done in small steps. Here are a few ideas for maximizing time and resources:

-Skip the pesticides – Whatever the gardening challenge, there is a natural, toxin-free solution. features DIY instructions to create a lush lawn without the chemicals.

-Reinvent and Reuse – Found objects such as old wooden shutters or antique windows are easy, low or no-cost ways to add interest to a garden. Habitat for Humanity ReStores and Goodwill are treasure troves of ideas for accent pieces. Our garden bench came from a local Goodwill, which means this piece is reclaimed and recycled, and cost about 75% less.

– Water right – tested garden hoses and found that many contain toxins like lead and plasticizers, which can leach into the water especially in hot weather. I’ve bought many hoses over the years from big box stores and all have ended up in the trash. Rather than create more waste, I sprung for the WaterRight hose, made in the USA. It’s 100% lead-free polyurethane that’s also phthalate-free, BPA-free and PVC-free from a family-owned business.

– Tap into the Neighbor Network – has groups all over the country where neighbors regularly offer (and request) plant clippings, pots and other gardening items, all for free.

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