There are many eco-friendly things going on in my small backyard. First of all is its size: the entire lot is 40 by 60 feet. My compact neighborhood fits about 15 families in the size of your average McMansion property. A small lot means a small lawn, which is a fescue and drought tolerant mix anyway. I don't water it. The brown spots in the picture below aren't from drought but because we've left items such as dive gear, surfboards, toys and gardening tools for too long on the grass.
The flowers are either drought tolerant, native or both. Sadly the garden was in full flower a week before I shot this picture from a second story window, now it's in a transition phase from day lily craziness to late summer sedums and black-eyed susans.
The Monsanto Sucks, Michelle Obama rocks organic vegetable garden is only watered with rain barrels that are against the house, see my April post about them for photos and how to build your own.
Then there's the clothes line and drying rack which I don't use as much as I'd like, but they do get used for cloth diapers every wash if it's sunny, the drying rack goes inside if it's rainy.
And finally, the compost pile. Can you see it? I didn't think so, look at a closer picture:Still can't see it hidden in the back corner against my neighbor's garage? I didn't think so. So many people I know claim they don't have a compost pile because they're unsightly, or they smell, or they don't have the room, or they attract "vermin". Well, ours in none of those things. Even from a second story window you can't see it. The only bad smell is when the five gallon bucket we keep on the front porch gets too full and then we get a heat wave (yuck). We already have a few mice that live in the garage, which is OK with me, they're cute and amuse Jack the cat from his perch in our window. And we most definitely have the space, even in our tiny lot.
Compost is easy, a great way to keep trash out of landfills (once buried in a landfill your average squash will last decades) and the sewer system (food that gets down your disposal pushes sewage treatment plants to their limit) But, the best part is the homegrown garden gold you get in the spring! This spring I filled two fifteen gallon bins with compost from last year and spread it all over the garden and veggie bed. My plants are so much happier than last year when I was too pregnant to lift a shovel so I never reaped the benefits of our compost pile.
If you'd rather have a composter there are many for sale on the market, but they're not cheap. We just have a pile. It's easy to do. To start, dig a shallow hole and put your first batch of rotting organic matter in it (no meat or bones) and put a layer of soil on top. Every time you empty your bucket dig a hole into the middle of the pile, add your stuff and bury it. You can add grass clippings, weeds, whatever. Every so often my husband attacks the pile with a pitchfork and churns it up a bit. We even had garter snakes have babies in it two years ago taking advantage of the warmth! They were awfully cute and I don't consider them vermin at all.
For a much more in depth look into composting and a great how-to website visit How To Compost at compostinstructions.com. There's even info on there to start a worm bin for those city dwellers with no yard at all.
I have an evil plan to start a clandestine compost pile behind the shed at my mother's Cape house. They don't have trash pick up so we have to haul all our trash home with us. It gets kinda nasty in the hot summer. My mother is one of those people worried it will attract "vermin". She'll never know it's there! It'll be our little secret.....