Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Lexmark, one of the larger suppliers of printer ink cartridges is doing a good job of taking their used cartridges and recycling them. They've been using their cartridges to create eLumber - a material that can be used in landscaping projects where you would normally use regular lumber. This material is water-resistant, insect-resistant and is very durable. While the product is originally black, it can apparantely be formed and painted to realistically look like rocks or wood.

eLumber should be emerging in the consumer market later in 2008. It will cost more than real wood, but it would probably be worth that extra cost.

Story found via EcoGeek.com.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Backyard Water Features

The sound of trickling water can have a calming sensation, and it’s always a bonus feature in any backyard garden. There are many different ways you can incorporate water into your backyard garden, and each option can be customized to make it as original as your garden is.

1. Ponds

Probably one of the most common water features. A pond gives you so many options – whether you want to have just a pond, several ponds connected to each other, a bog, or a waterfall or stream feeding into the pond. You can go for something very small, or a large pond, depending on how much room you have to work with – but remember, you want the size of your pond to complement the size of your yard. If you make it too large, it could just make your yard look claustrophobic, whereas something too small may get lost in a larger yard.

2. Fountains.

Another one of the more common water features is having a fountain in your yard. Whether it’s a small one to just provide the sound of running water, or a large one that becomes the centerpiece to your yard, there are so many designs to choose from that you’ll be sure to find one that perfectly suits the personality of your garden.

3. Pondless Waterfalls.

If you don’t have the room in your garden for a pond, but would still like a visible waterfall, this would be the ideal situation. Pondless waterfalls are made by creating a large hole in the ground; lining it and the waterfall you’ve made with liner and placing a pump in it (keep in mind that the pump should be in some sort of protective casing to keep it from getting damaged). Fill the hole with stones. Then, when the water comes down the waterfall into the stones, it looks like it’s just disappearing into the ground instead of a hole where it’s then pumped back up to the top of the waterfall.

4. Urban Ponds.

Living in an apartment or a home without a backyard where you can create your own water feature? Try an urban pond. Whether in a large wooden barrel (lined with liner) or in a preformed urban pond tub, these are perfect additions to any balcony or deck where you can’t normally install a water feature. By adding some plants or fish, you’ve quickly transformed your small area into a bright, colourful conversation piece!

5. Rain Chains

Rain chains are attached to your eavestrough instead of a downspout. Not only does this have a practical use by keeping water away from your house, but it is also very attractive. You can either make your own simple one, or purchase a decorative one.

Friday, July 18, 2008

10 Ways to help the environment with your garden

  1. Use Solar Lighting. Solar lights are wonderful because they don’t have any emissions, and so don’t contribute at all to global warming. They also use solar lighting – a renewable resource!

  2. Keep all power tools properly maintained in order to keep them running efficiently. Inspecting and cleaning your power tools regularly will help them to run the best that they can for the longest period of time.

  3. When planning your garden, be sure to include trees and shrubs. When placed correctly, these can reduce the heating and cooling costs for your house. Plant deciduous trees in areas that will shade your windows in the summer, but will let in sunlight during the winter, and plant trees and shrubs to help block wind.

  4. Save Water. I recently posted a list of 15 ways to conserve water in your yard and garden.

  5. Compost. You can compost food scraps, and garden waste that would otherwise go to landfills. This not only reduces your garbage, but it also will give you material to help your garden grow healthier.

  6. Grow your own vegetables. This will help to reduces carbon from fertilizers, and transportation.

  7. Use a push mower. As push mowers are completely manually powered, using one of these will eliminate the gas or electricity you use when mowing your lawn.

  8. Think about an alternative lawn. Grass is one of the least water efficient plants you can include in your yard. Lawns have to be watered much more often than other plants, and you have to use a lawn mower frequently to keep up the appearance of a well-kept yard. Think about clover, ornamental grasses, creeping thymes or moss.

  9. Prevent Runoff and Erosion. Runoff can carry harmful chemicals, pesticides and excessive amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen into waterways, and erosion removes the top soil and can clog waterways with it. Prevent this from happening by using plants that cover the entire ground surface.

  10. Eliminate the harmful chemicals you use in your lawn/garden. Any chemicals you use to get rid of weeds, eliminate pests or help plants grow can have adverse reactions to other plants or animals that come into contact with it. Getting rid of weeds using vinegar, hot water or just pulling up the weeds will work better in the long run than chemicals; There are many organic pesticides that you can either buy or make at home; to help plants grow, try using compost or compost tea.