Sick of the heat yet? Well, we’ll need to get used to it, because hot, dry summers are going to continue to be the norm here in the Puget Sound region. For gardeners, this may mean having to re-imagine what your garden looks like and how you tend to it, in order to adapt to a changing climate. Luckily, following these 5 simple steps to natural yard care can help:
1. Build Healthy Soil
Healthy soil starts with compost. Compost is full of nutrients that help plants grow and protect them against pests and diseases. This means less need for chemicals or fertilizers. Using compost is also helpful in hotter climates because it’s good at holding in moisture. More moisture in your soil equals less watering, which equals more cost savings for you!
2. Plant Right for Your Site
Not all plants are going to do well in every location. Thus, it’s important to assess your site before you start planting. Does your yard get full sun for most of the day? Then it’s not a good idea to put shade-loving plants there. Instead, look for drought-tolerant native plants that can also withstand wet soils during our rainy winters. This plant guide is a great place to start.
3. Practice Smart Watering
- Water Infrequently but deeply. Too much and too little water can both be stressful to plants. Water should soak in a little deeper than the roots. When the top couple inches of soil are dry, it’s time to water again.
- Water early in the morning or later in the day to reduce evaporation.
- Use efficient water systems, like drip irrigation or soaker hoses, which can reduce runoff and allow more water to soak into the soil.
Smart watering can save you money on your water bill and can lead to healthier plants less prone to pests and disease. Here are some tips to get you started:
4. Think Twice Before Using Pesticides
If you’re following steps 1-3, then you’ve already greatly reduced the need for pesticides in your garden. Consistent use of pesticides and fertilizers can actually make your plants more dependent on chemicals. They can also pose a health risk to pets and children, who might come into contact with them.
5. Practice Natural Lawn Care
Many of the steps that we use for natural yard care, such as using organic, slow-release fertilizers and watering deeply but infrequently, apply to natural lawn care too. Here are a few other tips to keep your lawn in tip-top shape:
- Mow Higher (1-2 inches) and leave the clippings behind as a natural fertilizer. This is called “grasscycling.”
- Consider letting your lawn go dormant in the summer. Grass naturally turns brown in the summer, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead! Your lawn will return in the fall, along with the cooler, wetter weather.
- Check out this natural lawn care guide for more details.
Follow these 5 steps, and you’ll have a beautiful, healthy, climate-ready yard not just during the summer, but all year round. To learn more and stay up-to-date on upcoming workshops and events visit Naturalyardcare.org.