Spring has sprung in most areas of the country and the ritual of “Spring Cleaning” has begun. Planting flowers, planting plants and prepping our lawns for summer, airing out our houses from the winter, cleaning windows, replacing winter window covers with summer screens are all a part of the spring preparation process. Depending on where you live your ritual may vary but one thing we can all do this spring is go greener. It’s easier than you think.
It happens every spring, weeds begin to grow, EVERYWHERE; in your grass, in your rocks and up through cracks in the sidewalk and driveway. The simplest way to get rid of these pesky plants is to spray them with an herbicide and you’re done. Unfortunately the chemicals in the weed killers are often washed away into our drainage systems and end up in our water supply. Here are three easy ways to go green and control your weed problem
1. Pull by hand. Use a long handle, flat screw driver to dig them out by the root. Not the easiest way but an effective and safe way to get rid of weeds.
2. Pour boiling water on the weeds in the rocks and driveway cracks.
3. Try this interesting weed killer – mix one ounce of white vinegar with one ounce of cheap gin and eight ounces of water, then pour or spray on the weeds.
GREEN UP YOUR LAWN
You can also help control weeds on your lawn by developing strong, healthy root systems. There are a few simple ways to do this that are safe and effective.
1. Mow high – high grass will help shade the weeds and keep them from growing, develop deeper root systems and prevent run off and evaporation of water. If you have a really BIG weed problem mow twice as often for a while. The growing point for weeds in near their tops so continually cutting off the tops will stunt their growth and eventually kill them.
2. Leave the clippings on your lawn. This will add nutrients back into the soil, help maintain moisture and can help strengthen your lawn.
3. Use an organic, slow release fertilizer. Check your local nursery for fertilizer brands that match the needs of your type of soil. You can also log on to Planet Neutral to find information on the Ringer brand of organic fertilizer or Rich Soil for additional ideas on organic lawn care.
4. Get a spring tune up on our mower, especially on the blades. The sharper the blades the easier it is on the grass. A tune up will also help your mower run more efficiently and cut down on emissions in the air. An even better way to go green is to trade in your gas mower for an electric mower. Many states and cities offer exchange programs with discounts for trading in your gas mower for an electric mower. You can check out the options in your area with a simple Google or Yahoo search for “lawn mower exchange program.”
SUMMERIZE YOUR WINDOWS
Nearly half of the heat gain in your home during the summer comes in from your windows, especially those facing east, west and south. The easiest way to cut down on the heat that enters your home is to shade your windows both inside and out.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development studies show the most effective way to keep you home cooler in the summer and cut down on energy bills is to block the sun’s heat before it enters the home. Researchers recommend removable shade screens with a low SHADING COEFFICIENT to cover your exterior windows.
Home Depot, Lowes or your local hardware store have do-it-yourself kits that allow you to create screens that fit your windows with a variety of colors and SHADING COEFFICIENTS. Another more earth-friendly way to shade your windows is with trees, so if you are building a new home or remodeling, look for shade trees that shed their leaves in the winter. This will allow heat to enter in the winter and help heat your home.
Reduce the amount of heat entering your home by using interior window films on the east and west facing windows. You should avoid placing these types of products on the south side because most are permanent and will block heat in the winter. There are a wide variety of products available, although many require professional installation. You can log on to Energy Film for Do-It-Yourself projects that do not require adhesives and can be easily removed.
When it comes to cleaning your home and windows there are several “green” glass cleaner, floor cleaner, and all-purpose cleaner options. Unlike many of the products on the market today, brands like Shaklee and Holy Cow sell products that are not only safer for the environment but safer for your family.
The spring season brings green colors to many parts of the country and you can participate in this green evolution by taking some of the simple steps mentioned above. So please do your part, join with nature, and go green this spring.