You can argue over the backyard grill all you want about environmental issues: Are they a big deal, little deal or no deal at all? No matter where you stand on the subject, there’s some home gardening concepts that make a lot of sense because not only do they improve your property’s curb appeal, they save you money.

Grass path

Rework your expanse of lawn into an accent for your landscape rather than its focal point. It’ll save you time and money – and make your property gorgeous!

Photo Credit: © Pennystone Gardens

Yard mulch

Use yard litter as mulch to create dramatic beds of native plants that gobble up storm water and slowly release it into the soil to support your garden and grass.

Photo Credit: © Pennystone Gardens

Perennial beds

Want to keep that lush green look in your yard? Create perennial beds with a variety of plants in different shades and textures of green.

Photo Credit: © Pennystone Gardens

Berries

When thinking about shrubs for your landscape, don’t forget about edible berries – they’re not only beautiful, they’re delicious!

Photo Credit: © Pennystone Gardens

For example, a lot of homeowners find their grass to be a point of pride, and no matter what any environmentalist says, it’s still going to surround the house. But with a little planning, you can shape your big grass rug so it looks great, cuts down time spent behind the lawn mower and uses less water, too! If it’s time to freshen up that green space, be sure to shop more shrewdly for grass seed that’s better for your growing conditions. The right grass will mean fewer weeds to fight with herbicides. You won’t need as many fertilizers either, and that’ll save the ol’ landscape budget. Both strategies cut down on pollutants that run into streams and rivers, and all you’ve done is spend less money and time caring for your turf!

A lot of homeowners have visions of their lawn looking like the best golf course fairways. If that’s you, dump the rotary gas mower and go for a quality reel type – that’s what the greens keepers at the best courses use. The new models are so efficient, it doesn’t take much exertion to make that turf perfect, and you get a little exercise, too. When you consider the price of fuel, regular maintenance and the pollution that comes from a gas mower, you come out way ahead.

To really fluff up your property’s curb appeal, consider looking at your lawn as an element in your landscape rather than its key feature. Increasingly popular these days are sweeping graceful curves of easy-to-care-for perennials, trees and shrubs (neatly mulched) mixed into the yard. Even more hip homeowners snag all the water that comes off the roof and direct it into “rain gardens,” which are nothing more than a planted brief water-retention area. Not only does it mean less lawn to mow, but your rain garden will bag up a huge amount of water that would normally go straight down a storm drain. What’s more? Rain gardens help keep the soil under your lawn moist, which means you’ll water less – and, yep, pollute less, too.

If you’re really clever, you’ll choose low-maintenance native plants appropriate for your neck of the woods. They’ll get all they need from the rain coming off the roof, and the deteriorating mulch you laid down to cover the soil will act as a long-term pantry to them.

Another big money-saving environmental tip: Pick out a spot in your back yard to set up a simple composting area. Instead of paying someone to haul away your yard waste, mulch up your leaves, twigs and grass clippings for your compost bin. Toss in tired potting soil and most kitchen scraps. It’ll all break down fairly quickly into rich organic matter. When raked lightly into the lawn in fall, it’ll feed your turf and spare you the expense of buying a sack of chemical fertilizer. Or you can use it to launch a little veggie garden in the back yard for the great fresh taste of perfectly ripe tomatoes, peppers, herbs and more. Eat well, and save a dollar…or 10!

If you’ve got the space, consider planting a windbreak with evergreen conifers on the windward side of your house. By redirecting winter winds up and over your home, you can cut your heating bill by as much as 20 percent! And those conifers will do double duty the rest of the year, sponging up gallons of rainwater that would otherwise run down your driveway in a river to the street. The shadow the trees cast will also help keep your home cool in summer – not to mention the lasting value they’ll add to your property.

It’s easy to get started with these money-saving environmental moves. You can also check with your local Cooperative Extension Service or conservation district for more easy ideas on how to have a gorgeous yard that helps the environment at the same time. The truth is, being an environmentally friendly gardener is not only good for Mother Earth, it’s good for your wallet!