In the Yard
Yard trimmings make up over 20% of the waste generated by Texans each year. Instead of throwing them out with the garbage, you can recycle these materials by composting them. Compost can serve as a soil conditioner that will help improve your garden and reduce your water usage. By using mulch and compost on lawns and gardens, Texans could reduce the need for outdoor watering by 30% to 60%.
Use an Electric Lawn Mower
For each hour of operation, one gas-powered lawn mower emits 11 times more air pollution than a new car. Forty million American lawn mowers consume 200 million gallons of gasoline per year, and gas-powered garden-tool emissions account for an estimated 5% of the nation's air pollution. Using an electric lawn mower instead can save you 73% in total energy cost.
Collect and Use Rainwater
Lawn and garden watering make up nearly 40% of total household water use during the summer. Collecting rainwater for landscape use is not only great for the plants, but can save you water and money. By collecting rainwater from just 10% of the residential roof area in Texas, we could conserve 27 billion gallons of water annually.
Use Native Plants
Plants that are native to Texas aren't only beautiful; they typically require less water, pesticides, fertilizers, and maintenance–saving you time and money. The deep root systems of many native plants also increase the soil's capacity to store water and reduce runoff. In addition native plants attract a variety of birds, and butterflies, by providing diverse habitats and food sources.
Plant Shade Trees
Consider planting deciduous trees on the south and west sides of your house and around your air conditioner. Because deciduous trees lose their leaves in the winter, they can save you energy by keeping your home shady and cool in the summer, yet allow the sun to shine through windows to warm your home in the winter. Carefully positioned trees can save a household up to 25% in heating and cooling costs.
Leave Grass Clippings on the Lawn
Allow grass clippings to remain on the yard after mowing; they can act as a slow-release fertilizer to your lawn while helping to retain moisture in the soil. This reduces the need for watering and can eliminate the need for fertilizer. Plus, it helps keep fertilizers out of storm drains and as a result, out of rivers, lakes, and bays.
Pick Up Pet Poop
Pet waste contains bacteria that can run off your lawn and contaminate our streams, lakes, and bays. Managing pet waste helps keep our watersheds safer and cleaner. Resolve to scoop up after your pet. Reuse those plastic grocery bags to scoop the poop and toss them in the garbage.
Use Fewer and Better Pesticides and Fertilizers
Surprising as it may seem, residential users apply more pounds per acre of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers than farmers. This often results from the assumption that more is better. The truth is that routine watering or a rainstorm can wash away the chemical excess—wasting your money and endangering nearby waterways. Less toxic, equally effective substitutes exist. It is very important to your health and the environment to always apply pesticides and fertilizers according to the label’s directions, and to use only the recommended amount.
Maintain Your Equipment
Help reduce air-pollutant emissions from your lawn mower or leaf blower by maintaining your equipment properly. Change the oil, clean or replace air filters, maintain the mower’s blades, and keep the underside of the mower’s deck clean. Make sure you recycle your used oil at a collection center. Find a recycling center near you.
Avoid Over-Watering Your Lawn
Watering too heavily or too often weakens your lawn and causes erosion and runoff pollution. A general rule is to water one inch, once a week, when needed. To measure, place an empty 6-ounce tuna can on your lawn and stop watering when it is full. Watering in the morning will save water from being evaporated by the midday heat. That will save you money on your water bill, too!