Your backyard is where your dog plays, you barbecue with friends and family and where you spend your weekends gardening and mowing the lawn. But what do you do with the byproducts of all this backyard activity? You could just bag it all up and send it “out there” somewhere to a landfill. But with yard waste totaling nearly 34 million tons in 2012 according to the Environmental Protection Agency, it’s important to find a better way to deal with all the various types of trash you create in your backyard. Why not turn yard waste into compost?
Recycling yard and kitchen waste into fertilizer for gardens and landscapes is called composting. You can compost things such as pulled weeds, fallen leaves, dead garden materials and trimmed hedges and tree branches. Compost provides nourishing organic material that plants and trees need to grow well and stay healthy. You won’t need to buy expensive fertilizers when you have an ongoing compost pile.
How to Compost
There are many ways to compost kitchen and yard waste. Shred or chop up leaves and other compostable materials for the fastest, most effective recycling. Invest in a shredder/chipper machine for the backyard, rent one periodically with neighbors to share the cost or spread everything out on the lawn and run over it with the lawn mower (after removing the biggest sticks). The waste is then ready to toss into whatever composting area or container you have—it’s that simple.
“Grasscycling” is another type of composting where you leave grass clippings on the lawn to decompose and fertilize your lawn. Use a mulching lawn mower that chops up grass into fine pieces and make sure the pieces are distributed evenly across the lawn. Grass clumps take longer to decompose, so make sure your grass isn’t too wet when you mow it.
Reduce your landscape watering needs and costs by placing thick layers of organic material on the soil’s surface. This will keep moisture from evaporating and the soil temperature cooler and more constant. It will also provide a home for beneficial worms and insects.
Other ways to save water with backyard recycling include using rain barrels, recycling gray water from indoor use for garden and landscape watering and using plants that have lower water requirements, according to HGTV.
Sustainable Backyard Pools
Reduce the need for chemicals and other wasteful backyard pool products with eco-friendly pool design and equipment. PoolProducts.com suggests installing a smaller pool and use eco-friendly pool equipment such as solar pool heaters, solar blankets, mineral purifiers and variable speed pumps.
Reducing chlorine consumption by using alternative pool designs and equipment saves money on expensive products and energy expenses and lessens the need to handle and store potentially hazardous chemicals.
Other Eco-Friendly Alternatives for Backyard Waste
Backyard waste isn’t just the things we mentioned above. It includes things like old plant containers, broken tools, tires, fencing materials and even old boots and shoes. Instead of tossing things like these into the trash can, try using them in creative ways to decorate your backyard, such as creating little gnome homes in broken pots or turning wood pallets into raised garden containers.