Archive for the ‘environmentally friendly landscaping’ Category

Compost in Hand - notillbed5

Composting is the easy way to add nutrients to soil, improve soil structure and increase the moisture-holding ability of soil. Composting recycles organic material through controlled decomposition. Organic materials are grass and yard clippings, kitchen scraps (no animal products), wood shavings, cardboard and paper. As organic materials decompose they turn into a rich, dark humus material that improves all soil types.

Compost helps sandy soil retain water and nutrients that would normally wash right through and it breaks up tight clay soils allowing roots to spread and oxygen to penetrate. Soils improved with compost contain beneficial microorganisms that protect plants from diseases and pests. Compost can reduce or eliminate the use of synthetic fertilizers in your lawn or garden. Better moisture retention means less watering and reduced runoff pollution – two key elements of WaterSmart gardening.

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Picture1Native plants are local and occur naturally without human help in a given area. Many have thrived there for centuries. There are different types of native plants, including flowers, shrubs, trees, grasses and vines that you can use in your landscape.  (more…)

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Armand Bayou Nature Center (3)From sprinkler to storm drain, from bayou to bay, the water used to maintain your yard remains untreated. What you do to your lawn and what runs off it determines the health of your local bayou and Galveston Bay. Runoff from residential areas in the Galveston Bay watershed is the No. 1 source of water pollution in most of our bayous. However, you can take steps to reduce the pollution that flows off your yard by adopting WaterSmart practices.

WaterSmart landscapes

A WaterSmart yard uses plants and practices that require little or no fertilizers or pesticides and less water than conventional lawns. With minimal grass cover and maximum use of native and adapted plants, the WaterSmart landscape can be beautiful, easy to maintain, and environmentally friendly.

WaterSmart landscapes can reduce the amount of polluted runoff entering the storm drain system by 90 percent. They can also cut the amount of water you use for irrigation by 90 percent. By converting your lawn one section at a time, you can create a landscape that helps preserve the bay area and gradually reduces your maintenance time. (more…)

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A WaterSmart yard utilizes plants and practices that require less water plus little or no fertilizers and pesticides. With minimal grass cover and maximum use of native and adapted plants, the WaterSmart landscape is beautiful and easy to maintain and environmentally friendly. WaterSmart practices are also a great way to attract butterflies, pollinators and other organisms to your yard.

Butterflies are not only beautiful to look at but they also pollinate your flowers. Attracting butterflies requires providing the right plants for all life stages of the butterfly, from a place to lay their eggs, to food for the caterpillar, a place to form the chrysalides and a food source for the adult butterfly. A great plant choice is milkweed, which can sustain the entire life cycle of Monarch butterflies.

Adding watersmart native plants to your yard is a great place to start. Plant butterfly attracting plants such as milkweed, butterfly bush and purple coneflower. Make sure the plants are located in a sunny spot. Plan for continuous blooms through the growing season and you will be rewarded with butterflies from early spring till late fall.

Remember, don’t use pesticides around your butterfly garden. Most traditional pesticides are toxic to butterflies. Pesticides can also kill off food sources for wildlife. Having native plants in your yard helps take care of any potential insect problem since it promotes habitat for the beneficial insects.

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Mosquito season is over for now, but even when it’s in full swing, we don’t get a lot of bites as we work in the wetland nursery.  I am often asked what we do to control mosquitoes in our wetland nursery at Exploration Green.


This little fish, Gambusia affinis, is our first line of defense against mosquitoes in the wetland nursery.

Mosquito fish, or Gambusia minnows, are by far the most efficient natural predators of mosquitoes. They are utilized by some mosquito control districts across the country. We collected ours in nearby ditches and set them loose in the nursery ponds, where they rapidly breed schools of hungry fish. (more…)

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