7 Ways to Go Eco in the Backyard

A backyard garden with a wheelbarrow and shovel.

The eco-friendly attitude has grown well past a trend. The philosophy of conscientious purchasing and sustainability is here to stay, and you can jump into the eco-friendly bus in your own yard. Beginning in the outdoors seems like a natural choice since it's so close to the very nature you hope to protect. Here are some easy ways you can live more sustainably, save some money, and reduce your impact on the environment!

1. Solar Lights

Solar lights have come a long way since their introduction. Not only have they come down in price, but they are now readily available, more efficient, and easy to install. There are many ways you can incorporate solar lights into your yard. Choose a design that can outline a walkway or border the flower bed, for example. You can also mark the entrance to a garden with post-topper solar lights. Check into strands of solar lights to decorate a pergola, gazebo, or trellis.

2. Rain Diverter

A rain barrel and diverter.

Collecting rainwater is a great way to reduce the amount of water you use. This DIY project requires a small investment upfront, but you will quickly recoup that investment in water savings. Find a rain barrel at a local estate sale or purchase new. Build a rain diverter or order one online. Install the rain diverter to direct water from the downdraft spout on your house directly into the rain barrel. Then, use a hose to water your food garden or flower beds with your collected rainwater. See more about how to install a rain diverter here.

3. Solar-Charged Water Features

Water features are a great way to enjoy some natural splendor on your own property. Gurgling fountains can be a drain on the energy bill, though. Instead of plugging into the house, consider installing solar-powered bird baths, pond pumps, and fountains of any variety made from barrels, planters, bowls, or statuaries.

4. Composter

A small compost bin in the kitchen.

Using a composter in your backyard has many benefits. Firstly, it allows you to minimize your household waste. You should add all produce scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, herbs, and any other plant-based waste. Then toss in some of your grass clippings along with a dose of brown clippings such as small branches, bark, and paper products from your house including toilet paper rolls and brown paper bags. In mostly equal parts, the addition of some water and heat from the sun will break down these household items and turn them into nutrient-rich soil for your plants. Composters come in many shapes and sizes. For the lowest impact, build your own composter out of wood rather than buying plastic.

5. Native Plants

Plant selection is an important part of a sustainable lifestyle. For example, trying to grow lettuce in the heat of summer is going to use a lot more resources than allowing it to prosper in the cool season. Do some research about plants that are native to your area. See what is being sold at the local home improvement store and garden center. Have a chat with your local nursery. Choosing native plants for your yard will minimize water consumption and also save you time and effort in trying to get non-native species to thrive.

6. Bees

Bees flying around purple flowers.

Bees are an integral part of any garden. In order for many plants and flowers to produce, they require pollination. This can only happen with a healthy bee population. Help the bees help you by selecting plants that attract them. Alyssum, agastache, asclepias, aster, echinacea, geranium, monarda, papaver, rudbeckia, and trifolium are all good options to attract bees.

7. Upcycled Materials

Just like the inside of your house, there is no end to the projects you can tackle in your yard. Outdoor projects are particularly adaptable to reusing materials. Bricks can be used as a walkway or outdoor fireplace. Tires can be repurposed to create a fence or blockade. Salvaged wood can be used to build raised garden beds. Railroad ties make a nice border for your flower bed. Rusty wheelbarrows, baskets, bins, and other household items can find their way into lawn art. Before you throw out an item, think about whether it can be brought back to life as a useful or decorative part of your yard.

With a little planning and some forward thinking, you can create a beautiful retreat in your backyard without creating a negative impact on the environment.