Your backyard might be looking a little sad after winter. That’s normal for any backyard, but the itch to freshen it up comes right along with it. However, a total renovation of your backyard could have a detrimental effect on the rest of your neighborhood, especially if your neighbors are native wildlife. Instead of jumping in feet first, take a little time to see what your yard really needs. There are plenty of things you can do that either have a minimal impact or will actually help the environment.
Add Eco-Friendly Lighting
Lighting is all important, even outside. Luckily, this is one idea that is both relatively inexpensive and has a very slight impact on the environment. It’ll have even less of an effect if you get solar-powered lights, which are all the rage for outdoor lighting! However, to make it something special, you want to light up overhead spaces, not the ground.
For that, you still have solar options. Solar-powered fairy lights are pretty popular and very inexpensive. Simply find a tree with low branches, set up a table and cover the tree with lights. It’s perfect for an evening outside, and it makes a huge statement for entertaining. If you want to DIY it more, create a similar look by hanging paper lanterns with battery-powered lights from the tree.
Create a Nook
An outdoor reading nook is actually a really simple project. All you need is a small outdoor table, a light source and a seating area. Since spring is almost here, it might be good to consider a hammock instead of a chair. If a hammock isn’t your thing, or if you have young kids who might break it, there are plenty of other ideas for outdoor reading nooks.
A small shed can be transformed into a light, comfortable space without changing anything about your yard. You can also hang a swing from your porch for something simple, or get a little more complex and build a bench around a mature tree. If you do that, though, make sure to leave a gap. The tree will continue to grow, so you’ll have to either move the bench, or the tree will move it for you.
Update Your Gutters
If you have a home, you probably have gutters. They can be a bit of an eyesore, especially if they’re older. But it’s actually pretty easy to perk them up a bit! Map out how you want them to go, then you’ll probably want to buy some extra gutter material and paint them. If you really want to make your gutters pop, go with an unexpected color like orange or pink.
Sure, you’re used to seeing gutters go straight from the roof to the ground, but there’s no reason for that. Instead, zig zag them on the way down. If you have issues with runoff, move them so they empty into a flower bed. Of course, make sure the plants can handle the onslaught of water and that the drain ends of the spouting are clear from any debris. If they get clogged, you could end up with roofing issues!
Fix a Runoff Problem
Rainwater runoff is a potential problem for many people, especially in the spring. There are a few things you can do to work on that issue, but you’ll have to tailor your solutions to fit your yard. If you’re losing soil because it’s bare and anything will wash it away, the simplest solution is to put something there! Plants are an easy choice, but they might not always be a good fit.
If you’re dealing with a high-traffic area, like a footpath to the back door, try lining the area with river rocks. They’ll hold the soil down, and they’re a lot more attractive than loose dirt. Areas that already have plants that aren’t holding down the soil could do with a solid, heavy layer of mulch. And if you’re dealing with a hill, you can work to install a swale, which is basically a shallow drainage ditch.
For larger areas you can’t create a simple fix for, a terrace garden or a rain garden could do the trick. A rain garden can actually be put in at the bottom of a swale, if you make it large enough. Just make sure the plants can handle the water absorption.
A swale, terrace or rain garden all have more impact on the environment. But when you’re dealing with soil runoff, the gain is bigger than the loss. Storm water management is a primary aspect of low-impact development. Adding it will be a boon in the long run.
Enhance the Natural Environment
If you plan to plant more or put in a garden, that’s fine. Actually, if you’re replacing grass with a garden, that’s great! Flowers, trees, vegetables, shrubs and fruits are much more beneficial to wildlife than a wide expanse of grass. For them, the grass is basically concrete with little to no food, cover or building material. A garden can fix that!
However, as with any garden, you can still lessen the impact. Sticking to native plants is beneficial for a lot of reasons. Native plants are better for the wildlife, since they’re already part of the food chain in that area. They also tend to need less watering, since they’ve already adapted to the rainfall.
Updating your yard for the spring can be a really great thing for the local environment. Do a little planning and research before you jump into it, and you’ll end up with a variety of ideas that are good for you and for the local flora and fauna.