Gardening To Support Our ‘Sustainable’ Community
In the spring of 2018, The Landings won an award from Audubon International, naming our community the first and only Certified Sustainable Community in the state of Georgia. What does sustainable mean? Sustainability is a lifestyle that is forward-thinking, looking ahead to secure a healthy future. When we choose to preserve and protect resources, to make as little negative impact on the earth as possible, to nurture the planet as well as those around us, we have chosen sustainability. Toward this goal the Landings promotes green buildings, is reducing light pollution and planting native plants among other things. What can we do to promote sustainability in our own little piece of the environment? If you have a garden or landscape you can do a lot!
Recycle- In the home landscape and garden this means Composting. See the great article on composting by Pam Patterson in this newsletter. Using composted plant material or other organic materials as mulch enriches soil fertility, improves soil texture and increases its water holding capacity. Using your own shredded fallen leafs as mulch lessens the amount of organic materials in landfills while adding nutrients back to your soil. Don’t pick up grass clippings. They make great fertilizer and contrary to popular belief they do not create thatch.
Conserve water- Water only when plants need it. Check and adjust your irrigation system frequently to avoid excess water loss to run off. Mulch garden beds with 2 to 4 inches of organic materials (compost) to retain soil moisture as well as discourage weeds. Reduce the size of your lawn which takes vast amounts of water and fertilizer to maintain. Use rain barrels to collect rain water to water plants that need extra moisture.
Plant Selection- Planting with diversity of plant types will discourage pests and diseases naturally. Using native plants will provide food and habitat for birds and beneficial insects while giving your garden a sense of place. Do not plant invasive plants. They will spread and upend natural ecosystems on our beautiful island. Using native or water wise exotic plants will help save time and water. This website has info on plant selections: https://gacoast.uga.edu/outreach/programs/ecoscapes/native-invasive-plants/
Planning- See where the storm water runs and collects. Using permeable surfaces such as pavers for the drive way and patios will allow rainwater to enter the soil instead of running into the sewer system. Create a rain garden if you have a naturally wet spot. Reduce your lawn to a minimum, using native perennials and grasses instead. They will use much less water and little to no fertilizer while providing food for birds and beneficial insects. Plant thickly, using a diverse variety of native plants, and mulch to discourage weeds and diseases instead of using herbicides and insecticides.
Maintenance- Before you fertilize obtain a soil test to see if you need fertilizer, soil pH correction or other elements. Using excess chemical fertilizers can harm soil flora and cause damage to your plants. Using organic materials such as bagged composted manure or your own compost to enrich your soil is safer and will improve soil health, texture and water holding capacity as well as fertility. Learn to tolerate a small amount of insect damage in your yard. If damage becomes too much, use organic insecticides. Apply the right insecticides only when insects are vulnerable. Do what you can to reduce the number of valuable insects killed. Here is a website describing integrated pest management practices: https://gacoast.uga.edu/outreach/programs/ecoscapes/wildlife-and-pollinators/integrated-pest-management/ If we all use these practices, or even just a couple of them, we will do less harm to our beautiful island and we will be a strong force for sustainability.
“Walk softly upon the Earth. May its beauty forever surround you, its wonders forever astound you”, Alfred V. Fedak.
Sue Hamlet, Birds and Conservation Committee
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