Our series on “green” gardens concludes with two final tips from Carl Smith, PhD, a landscape architecture professor at the University of Arkansas School of Architecture and coauthor of the new book Residential Landscape Sustainability: A Checklist Tool.

Harvest Rainwater

In your organic garden, avoid using drinking water from the main supply.  

Plants would normally get their water from rainfall. Why not disconnect the down-pipe from storm drains and introduce a rain barrel that stores roof water for periods when rain is scarce?

Find Beauty in Chaos

If your garden design requires every plant to survive exactly where it was planted and never grow beyond a certain size—and if it’s easily ruined by opportunistic invaders (weeds)—you’ll have to spend lots of time and energy in the garden.  

Carefully choose plants to match your soil, weather conditions and their location. Remember: Exotic plants may be just as well suited to your garden as natives, and they will need less water and fertilizer (which can require a lot of energy to manufacture).  

Be a little less pedantic about keeping every plant in line. Looser designs can allow some plants to fail and some to come in without ruining the overall effect. Herbicide and water use would decrease, and there would be less weed-pulling for you, providing more time to relax in the hammock you’ve strung between your shade trees.  

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