The land around our homes offers us lots of opportunity to be stewards of the environment.  How we plant around our home also affects our home’s energy usage.  Diciduous trees planted along the south and western sides of a house can help us cool our homes in the summer and warm them in the winter. Native plants and drought tolerant plants require less water in water restrictive seasons. Appropriately placed rain gardens can help the soil absorb excessive rains instead of sending valuable top soil racing toward our streams and rivers.

Western North Carolina is one of the most diverse bioregions in the country, home to a variety of ecosystems that support a teeming trove of botanicals Our yards are a major part this biosphere and of our community’s greenspace.  They help reduce the heat island effect that cities have on our planet’s warming. Greenspace, areas that are coveredy by grass, trees, or other plants clean the air, manage stormwater run off, replete groundwater stores, offer human relaxation opportunities and help keep our communitie beautiful.

Planting gardens for bees, butterflies, birds and other pollinators helps keep the environment vibrant and plays a role in supporting the migration of species.  Asheville is the home of Bee City USA, an organization that encourages the creation of sustainable haitats for polinators. They offer resources for the home owner and the urban beekeeper to help grow the pollinator populations.

Yards in the US account for over 42 million acres of greenspace. Converting those areas from mowed lawns to cultivated home garden benefits the environment in multiple ways.  Gas-powered lawn and garden equipment are some of the most intensive carbon emitters. Lawn fertilizers are one of the largest polluters of our waterways.

Home gardens can help us offset our family’s personal carbon footprint by reducing the “traveling time” of the produce we eat.  We are blessed in Asheville to be the home of the Organics Growers School, a non profit that focuses on increasing the population and success of home gardeners and small farmers through  multiple programs, events, trainings and resources.

The region is home to a variety of quality plant and landscaping companies. Useful Plants Nursery is a permaculture-based nursery specializing in useful, phytonutritional, food, and medicine plants chosen and well-adapted for our Southern Appalachian mountains and the surrounding areas. Sow True Seeds is a locally based seed company that work to ensure the survival or heirloom varieties of seeds and plants that are important to our region’s biodiversity.  Fifth Season, Jesse Isreal & Sons, Reems Creek Nursery and B.B.Barnes are wonderful landscape supply centers serving our local area. And don’t forget to visit the Farmer’s Markets located blossoming throughout our community for small plant suppliers.

Rainwater management is another valuable climate adaptive action that you can employ on your property.  By capturing some or all of the rain that flows from your gutters you can save water for dry times, reduce run off from your property and help replete the groundwater around your home.  It’s important to manage the way water flows around your home, being sure that you don’t bring excessive water toward your foundation and basements.  Edible Yard and Gardens Landscapes can help design rainwater systems that maximize the water harvesting from your roof and create earthworks that manage water movement on your property.

You can build simple rainwater collection systems that tap into your existing downspouts.

 

Finally, transforming yard and food waste into soil is an essential part of home recycling.  Compost piles, layered grass clippings, vegetable trimmings, and leaves break down to form nutrient rich topsoil.  For those of you who have plenty of room in your gardens, there are easy plans on line for building compost bins or you can take purchase a variety of bins designed to increase the speed at which the materials decompose.  Vermiculture, or worm composting, is another method for breaking down household food waste into soil.  In Asheville, you can subscribe to Compost Now.  This community composting company collects your household waste and returns nutrient rich soil.

Paying attention to the plantings around your home is = important because of the increasing concern for wildfires. While Western North Carolina is blessed with an abundance of forests, we also have a growing number of homes tucked into the thick woods, forming areas known as wildland urban interfaces (WUI).  North Carolina has more acres of WUI than any other state in the nation.  NC Firewise is a program that helps homeowners evaluate their property and take preemptive steps to reduce the risk of wildfire losses.

Most fires in NC are human caused.  It is important to follow the burning restrictions imposed by the NC Forest Service.  Before you burn, contact your local air quality office to determine if it is safe to burn your yard waste.

Our homes and yards offer symbiotic environments for bringing our personal values into our daily lives.  Enjoy taking care of your little part of paradise!