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6 Eco-Friendly Gardening Tips by Sacramento Region Experts

Feb 23, 2016 09:12AM ● By Megan Wiskus
Birds are chirping, skies are blue, the sun is shining, and your garden is waking up! Make your thumb extra green this spring by following these six sustainable gardening techniques. 


1 / Mulch, Mulch, Mulch 

Probably the single most important thing a gardener can do is cover, protect and nurture the soil. By using organic mulches on top of the soil, you help conserve moisture, keep weed seeds from germinating, and gradually improve the soil over time.—Submitted by Kevin Marini, Master Gardener Programs Manager, Home Horticulture and Composting Educator at University of CA Cooperative Extension


2 / Compost 

Keep your yard and food waste (fruit and veg scraps) out of landfills by composting at home. In doing so, you’ll extend the life of our landfills and help avoid other problems with organics in them, while creating a soil amendment for your garden. It’s a big win-win!—Submitted by Kevin Marini, Master Gardener Programs Manager, Home Horticulture and Composting Educator at University of CA Cooperative Extension



3 / Invite Advantageous Insects

A natural way to control pests is to invite beneficial insects—like ladybugs and lacewings—which like to eat them, into your garden. It’s nature’s pest control. Planting yarrow, ceantothus, coreopsis, sweet alyssun and others, will provide the food and shelter so many advantageous insects love.—Submitted by Tami Kint, Green Acres Nursery & Supply  Locations in Folsom, Roseville, Rocklin, Elk Grove and Sacramento


4 / Pick and Choose

Choose plants that are suited to our Mediterranean climate—they require less water and will likely be healthier. Look for natives, plants suited to your zone, or plants native to other Mediterranean areas like New Zealand.—Submitted by Tami Kint, Green Acres Nursery & Supply, Locations in Folsom, Roseville, Rocklin, Elk Grove and Sacramento

5 / In the Zone

Create different “hydrozones” in your yard by grouping plants that have similar water requirements. For example, plant un-thirsty natives near an oak tree, such as manzanitas, ceonothus (wild lilac) or cercis (Western redbud), since beautiful native oaks can’t take watering and cultivation in their root zone. If roses are your preference, group with other selections that need the extra water like gardenias, lilies and annual flowers. You’ll be water thrifty and save our heritage trees, too.—Submitted by Paula Bertram, UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County

6 / Park Your Rototiller

Instead of tilling, plant cover crops—annual rye grasses, fava beans or clovers—in the spring or fall. Allow them to grow for a few months or over the winter. A month or two before planting, turn the crop into the soil to give it a wonderful boost of nutrition. This will also improve texture and water retention, and you won’t be creating noise and emission pollution.—Submitted by Paula Bertram, UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County

Compiled by Megan Wiskus. Main photo © michaeljung/ Mulch photo © Andy/ Composting photo © Pixavril/ Ladybug photo © ArtFotoDima/