In these lean times, one of our greatest assets is a plot of land, whether it's tiny or an average suburban lot. Making resolutions to be more conscious of how we use our bit of land can have huge benefits for both our families and the environment this coming year. Maureen Gilmer, Scripps Howard News Service
Become a gardener. There is no better way to help the environment, eat healthy and save money than to become a gardener. Let this be the year you start — even if it's just a few tomato plants. Do not be afraid to fail; we learn the most through our worst fiascoes.
Add food-bearing plants. Begin gradually developing a productive home landscape that offers fruits, vegetables, greens and herbs to feed the family. Strive to make every new plant edible.
Learn to garden organically. Eliminating chemicals from your garden is not only safer for your children and pets, it promotes a healthy balance of predator and prey insects. Growing organically is based on the soil and how it is fed to maximize microorganism populations essential to fertility. Rich, well-fed soil promotes more productive plants with natural pest- and disease-resistance.
Landscape with native plants. Species that grow in local fields are super-adapted to the elements, such as climate and soil. Over thousands, perhaps millions of years, they have evolved to withstand periodic extremes as well as drought and cold. This resiliency is what makes a locally native plant naturalize in your garden and live as long a life as it would in the wild. Native plants also contribute vital food for wildlife that readily recognizes these local species.
Eliminate unnecessary lawn space. Note that this resolution does not say to eliminate all lawns. Unnecessary lawns are those that aren't used for pets or play and just demand water, fertilizer and mowing. They are too often the poor or lazy landscaper's solution to leftover space. Compounded by 50 states, the cumulative demands of all unnecessary lawn space waste a great deal of water.