A: A garden by itself is a great way to make a positive environmental impact, both beautifying your property and providing lots of fresh herbs and vegetables - so you don't have to make as many trips to the store to buy veggies that were trucked in.
But there also are direct environmental issues concerning the care of a garden, such as the impact of chemical fertilizers and bug sprays. There are a number of ways to reduce this impact:
• If and when it should rain in these parts, be ready to catch rainwater in a barrel to use in watering the lawn and garden: place the barrel underneath your home's downspout. A covered barrel will discourage mosquitoes from taking up residence.
• Build a compost pile to use as your main source of fertilizer and rich soil in the garden.
• Hand-weed the garden if possible. If you must use chemical weedkiller, use it exactly as directed on the package or bottle.
• Use the right amount of fertilizer recommended for the types of plants in your garden. Too much fertilizer can result in excess runoff into nearby streams or lakes, ecosystems that often are already stressed by lawn chemicals and fertilizers.
• Visit a local co-op, community farm or farmers' market to get information on organic and environmentally sustainable gardening. Classes or seminars are available in many cities for aspiring organic gardeners. There's plenty of information out there, so head to the Internet and look around.
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