How To Attract Wildlife To Your Garden

wildlife like butterflies

Do you enjoy watching bees buzzing around your flowers, butterflies resting in the sun, or a fat toad sitting in a shady spot? How to attract wildlife to your garden starts with knowing what will attract birds, insects, and animals to your yard. Wildlife needs water, a food source, shelter, and space. Small changes in your garden habitat can make a big difference to the wildlife you wish to attract.

One way to attract wildlife to your garden is to add a water source, like a birdbath water in birdbath for wildlife. To maintain a healthy environment for your wildlife, be sure to clean your birdbath two to three times per week. It’s important to thoroughly rinse away all cleaning products from the birdbath before refilling it with clean water and allowing animals to use it again. Birdbaths are not the only option, though. A water source can be as simple as a rock with a depression that holds water.

Another thing to consider for a wildlife-friendly garden is a food source. When it is time for fall clean up, consider leaving seed heads on perennial plants, which can be a food source for birds. Leaf litter and hollow stems can provide overwintering sites for many beneficial insects and pollinators. Plants that flower early offer a food source for those insects as they become active in the spring. Make sure that your garden includes a variety of plants so that there are blooms from early spring to late fall. Increase the variety of butterflies by providing food for their larvae. Plants from the carrot and aster families are great options. Plant extra dill or parsley, and you may see more swallowtail butterflies in your garden.birds needed for pests

It’s important to remember that as you provide an attractive habitat for wildlife, pests may also find your garden. Not to fear, though! Insect predators and parasites, attracted to the variety you’ve created, will move in and help control those pests. Insect-eating birds will find their way to your garden if their preferred food becomes more abundant. Some organic farms even include birds as part of their pest management plan. Keep in mind that there will be a lag time between the pests showing up and the beneficial creatures doing their job to decrease the population. Just be patient and trust that they will take care of those pests for you in due time.

Shelter is the third important component of a wildlife-friendly garden. Provide shrubs and trees that vary in height for housing all types of animals. Consider creating a toad house by turning over a terra cotta pot turn that terra cotta pot upside downand propping up one side to create an entrance. Toads are another creature that will help control insect pests.

Finally, sit back and enjoy the wildlife that is visiting your garden. Recording your observations in a nature journal is a fun way to spend time in your garden with the added bonus of helping you track how your garden and its wildlife inhabitants change from year to year.

Related How To article: 13 steps

How to create a wildlife habitat

6 Home Remedies for Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy is a very common condition that people acquire when they get close to a poison ivy plant. Poison Ivy contains urushiol, which the plant uses to protect itself from foraging animals. However, urushiol is very harmful to humans and is a skin irritant. Some people may not be affected by poison ivy even if they are in direct contact while others can just look at poison ivy and contract the irritating and itchy rashes associated with poison ivy. For those who are blessed with the ability to contract poison ivy… have no fear, there are some natural home remedies that can help your poison ivy symptoms and also treat the skin condition as well. Here are the top home remedies for poison ivy.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal – is a very common home remedy used to help with the treatment and helps with the symptoms of poison ivy. The oatmeal provides not only the soothing sensation to the affected area or areas but also leaves a white powdery finish that helps dry out the poison ivy rashes and speeds up the treatment rate. You can use oatmeal in two different ways, an oatmeal bath or applying an oatmeal paste to the affected area or areas. Use the bath method, simply pour a whole box of oatmeal into the warm bath water and soak in the bath for at least 20-30 minutes. Make sure that when you get out of the bathtub that you do not dry yourself off, leaving the powdery residue will help dry out the rashes more quickly. You can also try the other method by applying oatmeal directly to the rashes. In this method you will want to mix 3 cups of oats is a bowl of boiling water. The oatmeal and water will create a paste-like consistency. When the paste is warm enough to tolerate, apply the paste to the affected areas. You can also add 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda to also help with itching. Using the oatmeal home remedy provides you with instant relief from itching almost immediately.

Baking Soda
Baking Soda

– This is a classic and commonly used home remedy to help with the symptoms of poison ivy as well as helps treat poison ivy outbreaks as well. Like the oatmeal, you can form a paste out of baking soda and then apply it to the affected area or areas. Take three teaspoons of baking soda and mix it with one teaspoon of clean sterile water. This will form a thick paste. Apply the paste to the rashes and allow the paste to dry. This helps treat the watery blisters and also helps alleviate the itching sensation.

Goldenseal
goldenseal root

Goldenseal – Another home remedy that you can try to treat your poison ivy is by using a skin wash with Goldenseal. In this home remedy, you will need to mix a tablespoon of powdered goldenseal root with a cup of lukewarm to hot water. This will make a paste similar to oatmeal and baking soda. After the mixture cools down apply the goldenseal treatment to all the affected areas. This herb has anti-inflammatory properties and also rapidly dries up the poison ivy blisters and rashes. Note that this home remedy can also be used in cases of poison oak and can provide instant itching relief.

Salt and Aloe Vera Aloe Vera – This is a home remedy that has been used for many years and has been proved to be very effective in the treatment of poison ivy. There are however a couple of steps to go by when performing this home remedy. You will first want to wash the affected area or areas with rubbing alcohol and then wash the area with soap and warm water. Then you will pour plain table salt onto all the affected areas and leave it on the rashes for 5-10 minutes. The salt not only will help to reduce the chance of the poison ivy spreading but also helps with any other further infections as well as helps with itching relief as well. After you have let the salt stand on the rashes you will then wash off the salt from the affected areas and apply a heavy coat of Aloe Vera onto the rashes. This will provide you with immediate cooling as well as provides you with instant relief to itching and also to any burning sensations.

Banana Peels

Banana Peels

– This is another home remedy that has been tested and proven to provide you with instant itching relief. Simply take the peels from a banana and rub the inner side of the peel of the banana over the affected area or areas. You will be surprised in the instant and immediate relief you receive by using this home remedy.

Lemon

lemon

Vitamins – Vitamin C and E help dramatically in the treatment of poison ivy. Both Vitamin C and Vitamin E can be taken in large doses and acts as a detoxifier and an antihistamine. What you will want to do in this home remedy is dissolve a Vitamin C or E tablet in warm water and then washing the affected areas. By squeezing the juice from a lemon or orange is also an effective wash to use. Just simply dabbing the mixture on the affected areas does the trick as well.

Related How To article: 3 ways to treat poison ivy and poison oak

How To Prepare Soil For Plants

“Essentially, all life depends upon the soil…There can be no life without soil and no soil without life, they have evolved together” Charles Kellogg

The best way to get to know your soil is to dig a narrow, hole about 24 inches deep. There should be a dark topsoil layer above a paler layer, known as subsoil. Your topsoil should be loose and well-draining. If it’s hard and compacted, then roots will have trouble growing in it and drainage will be poor.

There are different types of subsoils: hard clay, bedrock, stony material, and even sand. There really isn’t anything you can do about your subsoil but it’s important to know what type of drainage it provides.

A porous subsoil will allow roots to reach down for nutrients, and during dry weather, for water. If your subsoil is compacted, then your best option is to make raised beds. That way you can increase drainage and the amount of good soil available to your plants.

Is Your Soil Alkaline? Or Acid?

This video will show how to determine your soil’s nutrients. 1:38 minutes long


 
Measuring your soil’s pH level is important because most plants need soil which is slightly acidic, in the 6.2 to 6.8 level. For reference, a pH of 7 is neutral, less is acidic and anything above 7 is alkaline.

A laboratory test is ideal, but soil test kits are sold in most garden centers and home improvement stores. The kit will quickly indicate your soil’s pH by using a simple color system. Acidic soil using turns the testing solution an orange-yellow, neutral shows as green, and alkaline soil turns it dark green. If you have a local Cooperative Extension Service, nearby, you can have your soil tested there. They will also be able to tell you if your soil has any deficiencies and suggest ways to improve it.

Types of Soil

Sandy soil
Sand Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay
• Sandy soil drains easily but it dries out quickly in the summer heat. It contains few nutrients so you will need to fertilize regularly. It is a good soil for cool-season crops because it retains heat in the spring when most gardens in northern regions are being started.
 
 
 
 
 
clay soil
clay soil Image by Dirk (Beeki®) Schumacher from Pixabay
• Clay is heavy and rich in nutrients. It drains poorly in winter which makes for a waterlogged garden during the spring thaw. They maintain moisture in the summer so they’re good for warm weather crops.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
loam soil
Loam
• Loam is a crumbly soil that combines the best features of sand and clay.

How To Check Your Soil’s Drainage

Remember the hole you dug to examine the soil in your yard? Now it’s time for a little experiment to find out how well it drains. Fill the hole with water, cover it, and leave it overnight.

If the water is still there the next morning, your soil is draining poorly. This means you may need to set up a drainage system or resort to raised beds. Excess water is deadly for plants, causing root rot and weakening the plant and making it susceptible to pests and diseases.

Related How To article: How to Prepare Soil for a Garden

Where Should I Plant My Garden?

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” Audrey Hepburn

Here Comes the Sun!

Here Comes the Sun
HERE_COMES_THE_SUN by Marianthi Mandani
If you decide to grow most types of beans or artichokes, for instance, you’ll need a spot that is sunny for most of the day. On the other hand, if you want to grow lettuce or spinach feel need a spot which offers some shade.

But how do you know which spot is sunny at noon but shady at 4 pm or vice-versa? By checking the light and shadow patterns during the day.

Place wood stakes in the areas you’re considering for your garden. Record the times when each area is fully covered with sunlight and the times when shadows appear. In general, you’ll want an area that receives at least six hours of sun. Again, your choice of plants will play a role in the amount of sun your garden should receive.

Examples of plants which require full sun:
• Artichoke • Asparagus • Beans • Beets • Broccoli • Brussels Sprouts • Carrot • Cauliflower • Celery • Corn • Tomato • Pumpkin

Examples of plants which do well in partial shade:
• Arugula • Cabbage • Endive • Horseradish • Lettuce • Spinach • Peas • Swiss Chard • Radish • Rhubarb

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Climate will influence your selection of the fruits and vegetables you can grow successfully. Most areas in North America are located in a temperate zone which is unaffected by the extreme heat of the tropics and frigid cold of the polar circles.

However, that doesn’t mean that all of North America has the same weather conditions, as you already know. Some areas are drier and hotter, and others with cooler, wetter conditions. Your plans should always reflect your local weather conditions.

Most plants have a range of air temperatures in which they thrive. Most common vegetables are divided into two categories: cool season and warm season. These vegetables vary in their planting requirements, and in the conditions they will tolerate.

Examples of cool weather crops:
• Arugula • Beets • Broccoli • Brussels Sprouts • Cabbage • Cauliflower • Collard • Kale • Lettuce • Onion • Spinach Turnip

Examples of warm weather crops:
• Cantaloupe • Carrot • Corn • Cucumber • Eggplant • Lima Beans • Pumpkin • Potato • Snap Bean • Sweet Potato • Tomato

Map it Out!

garden planner
garden planner at Amazon
It sounds like a lot of work, but again, preparation is key. Now, that you know which areas receive the best sunlight for your planned crops, and where you have the best access to water and good soil, you need to do a little more groundwork.

Your site has to be free from underground utility lines. Local utility companies will happily locate and stake out their underground lines if you contact them.

Create your map, by first taking a photo of the site to map out the garden. Shoot the photo from a point which allows a full view of your entire garden area. Now, you draw a design of the area and mark the shady areas or any areas which have obstructions such as roots, large rocks, or slopes.

Related How To article: How to Plant Your First Garden

Top Ten Gardening Tips

Top ten gardening tips

vegetable and herb garden raised garden
Image by Julia Casado from Pixabay

Gardening is a nice healthy way to spend some time relaxing outdoors. In this article, we will give you the top ten gardening tips that can help you enjoy your gardening to the fullest.

1. Start your plants in pots, once they sprout and grow a little you can transplant them into the garden. This will grow stronger plants and raise their chances of survival.

2. Healthy soil is very important for the health of your plants. You can use banana skins and other fruit and vegetable waste to create a compost area where you can mix the waste with your soil. This will create rich soil and very healthy plants

3. After you choose a place for your garden keep in mind that most garden plants need an average of six hours of sunlight per day. Not all flowers need that much sunlight, however, some do.

4. It is better not to water your garden while the plants are in direct sunlight, the water acts as a magnifying glass and can damage the plants when the sun is strong. Perhaps you decide to water your garden in direct sunlight try to make the waterfall directly on the soil without falling on the plants, especially the leaves.

5. Perhaps you don’t want to lose valuable time watering your garden. You can buy special hoses that will leak water out at a slow pace. This will allow you to simply turn on the faucet and enjoy yourself while your plants receive the water that they desperately need. You must be careful, however, not to overwater your garden.

cut tomatoes

6. After you pick your vegetables keep in mind that pulling at the vegetable to separate it from the plant can cause damage to the plant. It is usually much better to cut the vegetable off of the plant.

7. Perhaps you find that you need to go into the house frequently while gardening taking your shoes on and off can cause a lot of stress. Use some plastic bags (use the ones you got when shopping), you can slip your shoes into them before entering your house.

8. If your yard has clay quality soil this can cause stress while trying to dig as it sticks to your shovel. You can try solving this problem by waxing your shovel with car wax.

9. As we mentioned before your garden needs a lot of sunlight, this means that you will probably be working in the sun quite a bit. Keep in mind that the ozone isn’t as good as it used to be and there are many risks that come from overexposure to the sun. Don’t forget to use sunscreen and if you are extra sensitive you may want to use a hat and maybe a long sleeve cotton shirt.

10. Go Organic.

Gardening can be a very relaxing hobby, some doctors even recommend it as an anti-stress activity. Not to mention the joy that comes from eating food that you produced with your very hands! Happy gardening!

Home Rainwater Collection System

Home Rainwater, photo by Benoit Rochon
Home Rainwater, photo by Benoit Rochon

Rainwater can help add on a home’s water supply in areas confronting water deficiency due to shortage of rainfall or population growth overextending the existing supply. For locations with a good deal of water, rainwater harvesting can help cut back greenhouse gas emissions related to pumping and treating water from a centrally located municipal works. Rainwater harvesting can also reduce stormwater overflow from the home, freeing some of the stress on old municipal stormwater systems.

Rainwater harvesting has less energy-emphasis than other secondary sources of water like water recycling and desalination. It is also clear of minerals, thus cutting back scale buildup in the pipes, and it is free of sodium, which can be good for people on low-sodium diets or high blood pressure if utilized for drinking water.

Rainwater harvesting helps our environment and wallets.

  • Preserves drinking water by reducing the demand for municipally treated water, especially if used for irrigation throughout dry periods.
  • Reduce water bills thanks to less dependence on municipal water.
  • Aids to decrease basement flooding in older urban regions by cutting back the chance of rainwater exiting the property and getting into storm sewers (the sewers can clog up during large storms, which can contribute to flooding).
  • Helps to refill groundwater supplies by using stormwater on a position where it can penetrate into the ground and by seizing overflows in instances where the rainwater tank overflows are controlled on the home’s property by a rain garden.

Water conservation

Prior to installing a rainwater collection system, it makes good sense to be sure that you are presently using water in a wise manner around your home.

  • Exchange older, wasteful fixtures, such as faucets and toilets, with more current, water-conserving models.
  • Look for the WaterSense® logo on new products to make sure that they meet water efficiency standards set by the EPA in the U.S.

EPA WaterSense logo

As stated by the U.S. EPA.

Choose WaterSense
Choose WaterSense
WaterSense logo. EPA established the WaterSense Program to protect the future of our nation’s water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products, new homes, and services. Products are independently certified to be at least 20% more efficient without sacrificing performance. Since the program’s inception in 2006, WaterSense has helped consumers save a cumulative 757 billion gallons of water and more than $14.2 billion in water and energy bills.

Look into your exterior water use and check where you can make modifications by watering less often or using native plants for the garden that are more advantageous to take care of in dry conditions. By preserving water around and in the home, you get the most out of your rainwater harvesting system. Larger water usage means you might need a bigger system, and that means higher operating costs and installation.

A Substantial Investment

rain barrel home
rain barrel home and the price is reasonable

Having a rainwater harvesting system can be a substantial investment and must be cautiously done to make sure the system runs efficiently and safely. By chance, if you are a building contractor, electrician, or plumber, you will need to check with professionals for most of the installation. Even a talented DIY builder should confer with a rainwater harvesting expert and, look at the size of the tank and the area geography, additional specialists may be required.

Conclusion

The benefits of rainwater harvesting can be substantial. Despite living in an apparently water-rich country, we have to be conscious of the importance of clean drinking water and of the necessity to conserve it. Using treated potable water for landscape irrigation and in toilets does not make any sense to a lot of people. In comparison, rainwater use, where allowed and possible, will help us bring down our carbon footprint by cutting back the need for the energy needed for the management and transfer of municipal water to homes.

Collecting and using rainwater takes some of the work off city storm drains and can help stop flooding. When we are in a drought, the stored water lets property owners more freedom in water use than homes and businesses depending on municipal water for irrigation. In addition, it saves money.

Related How To article: 4 Parts to Build a Rainwater Collection System

Fire Ants In Southern USA

How do you kill garden bugs organically? Fire Ants

Fire ant map in USA
Fire ant map in USA

Back in 2004 my husband got a job in Florida, so we all moved there from Ohio. Within a month of living in our new home, our two-year-old daughter discovered a mound of dirt in our backyard. Within seconds of finding and touching it, she was covered in fire ants that bit her on the legs that caused her intense pain. That was our first introduction to Florida’s fire ants.

  

Imported Ants

Fire Ant from South America Photo from Ninjatacoshell
Fire Ant from South America Photo from Ninjatacoshell

Since that time I have learned all I could about fire ants. What I learned is that fire ants are not native to the United States. They were accidentally brought to the United States in 1929 on a cargo ship carrying soil from South America. Since they have no natural predators here in the US, the fire ants have exploded. They are incredibly aggressive and dangerous.

        

        
    

Fire Ants Home

Fire ant mound
Fire ant mounds get about 15 inches high

By now you are probably wondering how to spot a fire ant nest, or the ant itself. It’s actually pretty easy to see where the fire ants are living if you know where to look, which is down. When I am outside walking on grass or dirt, I watch my feet as I walk. What I look for and avoid are any dirt hills. The hills can be as small as an inch or as large and tall as 15 inches. The dirt for these hills has a grainy look to it that I have come to learn.

          

        

Swarming Effect

Fire ants on board
Fire ants on board

If you are unsure if a dirt mound is a fire ant nest, there is a very easy way to find out. Take a long stick and poke the nest. If fire ants live there, they will immediately swarm out of the nest and onto the stick. If the stick was your hand, you would get bit many times over.

    
        
        
        
        
    
    
        

Identify

a parasitic phorid fly and a fire ant
a parasitic phorid fly and a fire ant

As for the ants themselves, I don’t really know what they look like specifically because I never see them unless their nests have been disturbed. When that happens it is best to get as far from the fire ants as possible. From what I can tell, though, they look like a typical ant. They are neither excessively large nor small. And, no, they are not red as their name might imply.

        
        
    

Fire Ants Bite

Fire Ant Bite
Fire Ant Bite can be serious

The reason fire ants are called “fire” ants is because of their bite. Their bites burn like fire, or so I’ve been told. I’ve never been bitten but I know plenty of people who have, including my daughter. Her legs were covered in little red welts. Apparently, fire ant bites cause small, painful welts that can sometimes scar. In my daughter’s case, I counted over 40 bites at the time of the incident. She is now 10 and several of the bites turned into scars that can still be seen.

    
            

Bite Treatment and Hill Destroyer

The best way to treat fire ant bites is with a sting and bit product called Mitigator. Apply it as soon as a bite occurs. And if you find an anthill, you can either buy a product called Amdro, or call your exterminator. I have found that exterminators are far more successful at killing fire ant colonies than over-the-counter products are.

Related How To article: How to Treat a Fire Ant Sting

Store Bought Container Plants

Nature Shop Flowers
Nature Shop Flower

When you buy a container of plants at the store, it is usually not a good idea to simply leave the arrangement as is for too long. Most store-bought container plants have already outgrown the container they were planted in. The stores want these to look full and lush because they sell better that way. But unfortunately, they don’t live well that way.

Since the container is overcrowded, the plants have little room to breathe let alone grow. So if left in the container as you bought them, the plants are likely to die not long after you’ve brought them home.

The best way to keep these container plants alive is also a wonderful way for you to have more plants in your home:

flowerpots
flowerpots used to separate the bought plants

Separate them into multiple containers.

1. Once you’ve found a container of plants at the store you really like, be sure to also buy a few extra pots if you don’t already have some waiting at home, and buy extra organic potting soil too. I recommend going to a reliable nursery that sells only quality plants.

2. When you get home with your new materials, you’ll repot some of the plants from the container you just bought. You don’t have to do this immediately, but it is best to do it within a few days of bringing it home.

Most indoor container plants are quite hardy, so you don’t have to worry too much about hurting them.

organic potting soil from Espoma
organic potting soil from Espoma

1. First, you’ll need to set up all your materials. Set the new container of plants on a table or counter, then put the empty pots and potting soil close by. I prefer to do this next to a sink because you’ll be watering the new containers after transplanting and having the sink on hand just makes this easier.

2. Now, if the container full of plants is a bit dry, soak it with water really well first. This will loosen the soil and make it easier to remove plants from.

3. Next, turn the plant container over on your hand, so the plants start falling out. Usually, the container is so full and crowded that all the roots are intertwined, thus the entire plant arrangement comes out as one piece.

4. With the plant roots showing, pick one or two sections – or individual plants from the arrangement, and gently break its roots away from the main root section. You will break some of the plant’s roots when you’re doing this, but a little breakage doesn’t usually hurt anything. Just be sure you don’t sever the plant from its roots entirely.

Sometimes its easier to simply use a knife or spade to cut the plant roots apart. You can separate and sort out the entire original container arrangement first, or you can do it one section at a time.

5. Once you’ve got one or more sections of the container arrangement separated, you’ll put them into the empty pots. Fill one of the pots at least half-way with the new potting soil. If the soil is a bit dry, soak it well with water and let it drain. Then dig one or more partial holes in the soil of the new pot, and put one section of the original plants you’ve broken off into each hole.

You can put one section into each pot, or you can put 3-5 sections into each pot. It all depends on how large your new pots are, and how large each plant section is that you’ve broken off from the original. You want to be sure there is space for each section in the new pots though because the sections you’ve broken off will grow and fill in quite fast – usually within a couple of weeks – and you don’t want to have to move it to another pot again so soon.

6. Once you have the plant sections in place, fill in the remaining area around them with more potting soil. Press it down a bit, add some more water and let it settle, then if needed: Add a bit more soil.

watering
watering

7. Once you have the soil level covering the roots and at an appropriate height, soak the new planting pot with water again and let it drain.

You’ll need to rinse off the outside of your pot most likely, then you can set it anywhere in your house with enough light. Repeat this process for however many sections of plants you want, and within just a couple of weeks, you’ll have several new indoor container plants looking wonderful in your home!

3 Invasive Plants

invasive plant kudzu
invasive plant kudzu

When planting a garden, it’s a good idea to know what you’re planting might be invasive in some way. Often new gardeners will end up buying plants that are very easy to grow, not knowing that in time the plant will become more of a problem than anything else.

Invasive plants are those plants that grow so prolifically and are so hardy, that they destroy other plants in your garden. Often they get out of hand and can take over the entire yard. These are wonderful for getting quick results in a garden, but they’re so hardy that they’re extremely difficult to get rid of in the future.

There are also some plants which are not native to an area, that will destroy the native and natural plant life there. This can cause big ecological problems over time.

 

Ivy_on_Chicago_University_campus_building
Ivy_on_Chicago_University_campus_building, photo by Spikebrennan

Ivy

One of the most common and most invasive plants is Ivy. In some areas of the United States, different types of ivy will expand, choke out and kill other plants quite quickly.

 
 
 
 
 

Mint

Mint is another plant that tends to be problematic. It also expands and grows quickly, and it can also kill other types of plants that are in its growth path.

Wandering Jew/Purple Heart

wandering jew,purple heart
wandering jew,purple heart is very invasive but beautiful

Another invasive plant is the ‘wandering jew’ or some call it ‘purple heart’ will spread in just a couple of years. This plant will grow good in sun or in shade. Plant in an area that you want to cover with no other plant.

Planting and growing invasive plants are OK to do if you do it properly. The most important thing to do when planting them though is to put them in an area where they can be fully contained and controlled.

A common way to plant mint, for instance, is to simply put it into a pot, then plant that pot into the ground. This keeps the roots of the plant contained, and the gardener can simply nip any stray branches that might try to go into unwanted places.

This same technique can be used with ivy, but it’s more difficult to control. Because ivy is a vine, all the various points on the vine can take root. So leaving the vine unchecked for just a few days can be enough time for new roots to take hold and spread.

Pots and Containers

I personally suggest keeping ivy in pots and containers only. Don’t put the containers into the ground, simply sit or hang them on your patio or keep them inside your home. You could also plant ivy and mint in window boxes, just watch the ivy closely and if it starts trailing too close to the ground, trim it back.

There are other types of plants, vines, bushes and even trees that can be harmful to others in the environment too. It’s always best to try researching specific plants online before planting them. This is most important to do for bushes and trees because these live much longer than general annuals do.

Keep in mind that some people consider certain plants as invasive, just because they don’t like them and the plants are quick and hardy growers. Many native wildflowers are referred to as invasive or “weeds” because of this tendency. This is a preference issue though and not an ecological one. Some people just don’t like wildflowers and naturalized plants while others do.

Why be pesticide free?

boy and dog sitting on chemical-free lawn
boy and dog sitting on chemical-free lawn

Almost everyone wants a lush, green lawn and an attractive, pest-free garden. Unfortunately, in order to achieve this goal, many people resort to using harsh chemical fertilizers and pesticides. While these products are effective in accomplishing their purposes, it is not without impact. Most fertilizers and pesticides currently on the market are made with harmful chemicals that, even when used properly, affect not only human health but the health of our environment. Luckily, there are now great cost-effective and proven natural alternatives that can help you achieve a healthy and beautiful yard without chemicals. Salt Lake City, partnered with Beyond Pesticides is running a trial on a couple of local parks to incorporate the best alternative practices in pesticide management and lawn care. They encourage city residents to join them in reducing the number of chemical pesticides and fertilizers they use.

Pesticide Exposure

father spreading chemical pesticide
father spreading chemical pesticide

As part of the Healthy Babies Bright Futures initiative, Salt Lake City is working to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals that we come into contact with on a daily basis. One common source of exposure is through pesticides (including rodenticide, herbicides, insecticide, and fungicide). Their guide was created to give residents a starting point for reducing and phasing out chemical pesticide use in their homes. It’s healthier for you and the environment!

Chemical pesticide use and exposure has been shown to have negative health effects on humans. Recent studies show that most homes in the United States are contaminated with pesticides. Health effects found to be caused by chemical pesticide exposure include birth defects, childhood cancer, acute poisoning, brain tumors, and asthma.

A Child is Vulnerable

children on lawn
children on lawn, ARE THEY SAFE?

Children are particularly vulnerable to chemicals due to their exploratory nature and size. Children are more prone to place potentially contaminated household objects, as well as their hands, in their mouths. Because of their small size, children are closer to the ground and contaminated surfaces which exposes them to more chemicals. Additionally, compared to adults, children have a relatively higher intake of food, water, and air.

Eliminate Use

After learning about the great alternatives to chemicals in this article, it is likely that you will want to cut down or eliminate the use of pesticides and fertilizers in and around your home. Initially, this might mean more time spent in the garden doing manual labor. Luckily, gardening promotes many health benefits.

Stress Reduction

Studies have shown that working in the garden improves both your mental and physical health. Gardening has shown to be more effective at reducing stress than other leisure activities.

A Low-Impact Exercise

People working in the garden
People working in the garden EQUALS exercise

Gardening is also a good source of low-impact exercises, such as stretching and strengthening muscles. This physical activity is associated with a lower risk of developing dementia. Two studies were conducted in which people in their 60s and 70s were followed for up to 16 years. Those who gardened regularly had between a 36% and 47% lower risk of dementia than those participants who did not garden.
 
 

Keep Our Environment Healthy

Creating a natural environment and promoting biodiversity around our homes can reduce chronic illnesses, including allergies, in both children and adults. Recent studies show that the health of our soil is directly related to the microbial life on our skin and in our gut. This is yet another reason to keep our environment healthy and diverse by eliminating the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

Related How To article: How to Make Organic Pesticide