While most families have embraced green living in their homes, most outdoor spaces are much less green than they may seem. Between chemical-laden monoculture lawns and backyard furniture and equipment made of new materials, backyards are easy places for families to reduce their environmental impacts. Installing a green lawn or lawn care regime, replacing mulch with recycled ground cover, and buying recycled furniture and backyard accessories are all ways to make an outdoor more eco-friendly.
The traditional lawn is fraught with environmental problems in terms of both water and chemical consumption. Homeowners who want to maintain the appearance of a traditional lawn can reseed with a different grass that is hardier and requires less water. Organic lawn care regimes can help any lawn and, in the long run, can also reduce the need for water. Other homeowners can replace their lawn with plants such as mosses or natural herbs. These lawn alternatives are beautiful and unique, not only reducing environmental impact but also adding a completely different feel to an outdoor living area.
Recycled Ground Cover
While lawns clearly present problems, the mulch that most backyards use in landscaping is a relatively environmentally friendly product. However, it needs to be replaced periodically to maintain an attractive appearance. This process requires work and carbon-generating trips to buy additional ground cover. To mitigate these problems, permanent mulch made from recycled rubber is now available. It offers a single-installation solution for both landscaping and playground areas and helps to keep old tires out of landfills. With many color and shape choices, it also lets homeowners customize the appearance of their backyard.
Recycled Furniture and Backyard Accessories
Eco-sensitive furniture and accessories are another key to minimizing your backyard’s total environmental impact. Traditional wood furniture can be green if it is made of sustainably sourced woods, but it can require a great deal of maintenance, especially in areas with inclement weather. Rattan and wicker furniture has the same issue. Metal furniture is sturdy, but is not particularly environmentally friendly. It also requires periodic painting or recoating.
Today’s polywood furniture represents the best option for a green backyard. Made of recycled plastic, it is a hybrid between the benefits of plastic furniture and the beauty and quality of wood furniture. Polywood is actually a lumber alternative made of recycled plastic. The furniture is made of pieces of plastic lumber, much like a traditional wood outdoor piece but unlike wood it does not require painting, staining or sealing. It can also be left outside year-round and will not crack. With 90 percent post-consumer content, Polywood is one of the greenest options available.
In addition to buying green furniture, another great way to reduce a backyard’s environmental impact while saving money is to buy used backyard accessories. Many people upgrade outdoor living accessories like fire pits and playground equipment while they are still in good condition. Buying them on the second hand market effectively recycles them. It is also an excellent way to save money.
There are a number of different ways to reduce the impact of outdoor living. Whether they add polywood furniture, use recycled rubber mulch or transition to an organic lawn care routine, every homeowner can make their outdoor space even greener.
This guest post was written by independent journalist Susan H. Jefferson who frequently blogs about Eco Friendly materials and Outdoor Furniture.