Saturday, February 23, 2008

Illegal Gardens

A rant on conservation and possible illegal gardens, even though all this is good advice some of it may be illegal to implement ! I started this post thinking about conservation of heat loss using nature where according to the U. S. Dept. of Energy buildings in the United States use a whole bunch of energy. I had some numbers but they referred to "buildings" and even though the article I was reading was about landscaping for conservation in houses the statistics quoted were not qualified as just for homes. I don't argue that having deciduous trees positioned properly around your house will definitely help cool it in the summer and let light in the winter. We have what we call the garden room facing south. There are many days in the winter the furnace does not go on all day. We also have a ceiling fan that helps move the air to the rest of the house. We have two trees and a garage about 30 feet from the house. Keep these trees away from your ponds.

If you must have coniferous tress in your yard I think they should be on the north to northwest side of the house, at least where we live. It is said tall hedges or trees can cut heating costs as much as 40 percent. Then I started thinking about the advice about creating rain garden (remember it's a good idea) and replacing turf with native plants and grasses, so less water is used for watering and helps eliminate the environmentally damaging upkeep such as mowing and fertilizing. The biggest problem I see with this is local ordinances that have requirements for height of yard grasses. It is a mental adjustment, I remember a number years ago I was in Chicago and was lost , as we tried to find our way back to down town we were in a residential area where people did not cut their yards, I don't mean just a few none of the yards were cut for quite a few blocks. I was appalled at the thought that they did not care about how there yards ;looked now I realize I was looking through the glasses of a rural Lutheran and whether these folks knew it or not they were years ahead in conservation practices. We have one old fellow in town that mows around all the groups of ox-eye daisies that grow in his yard. People talk about him as being nuts but on thinking about it. He is doing exactly what the EPA is talking about. I am sure he is in violation of local ordinances. I wonder what other people think about replacing the lawn mower by naturalizing the yard ?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Rain Garden for Investment

From Naterraland Reality
It makes common sense that part of the reason for protecting the earth is just protecting your investment.
Not surprising, lakefront real estate with cleaner water commanded significantly higher prices.
Rain gardens are landscape areas planted with wildflowers and other native vegetation designed to replace portions of lawn.
Rain gardens are beneficial to lakefront property for several reasons.
• To help protect streams and lakes from pollutants carried by storm water – lawn fertilizers and pesticides, oil and other fluids that leak from cars and other harmful substances that wash off roofs and paved areas.
• To enhance the beauty of your lakefront property and the surrounding area.
• To provide a valuable habitat for birds, butterflies and many beneficial insects.
Spring and early summer is the best time to build and plant a rain garden. It’s easier to dig and the plants are more likely to thrive.
Determining the right size and plants.
The appropriate size of your rain garden depends on how deep the garden will be (typically between four to eight inches), what type of soil the garden will be planted in and how much roof and/or lawn will drain to the garden. The length and width is important to ensure it properly catches water. A good rule of thumb is to make the rain garden about twice as long (perpendicular to the slope) as it is wide, usually about 10 feet wide.
For plant selection, choose native plants with a diverse mixture of sedges, rushes and grasses. They not only add to the garden’s beauty, they also create a thick underground root matrix that keeps the entire plant community in balance. In fact, 80% of the plant mass in native prairie communities is underground. Once the garden has matured with a deep, thick root system, weeds will naturally decline.
Another nice benefit of a rain garden is the low maintenance required once the plants are established.
As you make plans for your rain garden, consider the following tips and proven guidelines.
More tips and proven guidelines to remember.
• Place the garden at least 10 feet from the house or cabin.
• Do not place it directly over a septic system.
• Although tempting, don’t put the rain garden on a part of the land where water already ponds. The goal is to encourage infiltration and your land’s wet patches show where infiltration is slow.
• Keep the garden level to prevent rain runoff.
• Make a berm across the bottom and up the sides to keep water in the garden.
• Select plants with a well-established root system, usually one or two years old.
By reducing storm water run off, a rain garden can help you improve and maintain the water quality of your lakefront real estate or riverfront property while increasing its value. And that’s beautiful any way you look at it.
Source: University of Wisconsin Extension; “Rain Gardens: A How-to Manual for Homeowners.” And “Protecting Your Waterfront Investment.”