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Want an Eco-Friendly Backyard? Try These 14 Green Ideas

Want to design the ultimate eco-friendly yard? Give your backyard a green overhaul by planting a native garden, installing solar lights, building a natural pool, and more. Here are the 14 best green upgrades for your backyard!

Try Organic Mulch

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Sustainable landscaping with materials like organic mulch helps regulate soil temperature, hold moisture, and reduce weed growth. Plus, using organic mulch helps your plants thrive and naturally break down over time, providing environmental benefits for future plant growth. Some common organic mulch types include wood chips, shredded bark, straw, leaves, and grass clippings. If you’re turning grassy areas into garden beds, consider using the cardboard method to help convert the space, prevent weeds, and provide an additional layer of compost for your plants!

Grow Your Own Fruits & Vegetables

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Having a vegetable garden in your backyard full of fresh fruit and veggies is a fun DIY garden project that’s great for the earth! Growing your own produce helps reduce trips to the store and the waste attached to buying grocery store produce. Plus, by growing your own fruits and vegetables, you can choose what fertilizers you feel comfortable using rather than purchasing food from the store that already has these things applied to them. If you’re limited on yard space, you can start an urban garden on your balcony or rooftop—or create a container garden.

Opt For Artificial Grass Installation

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Maintaining a grass lawn requires lots of water and energy. If you’re interested in a greener alternative, a synthetic lawn might be your go-to. Synthetic turf is more common in states with extreme heat and dryness like Arizona or California, but it’s also a great option if you live in major cities like Chicago or New York, where you’re more likely to have a small backyard. While an artificial turf lawn may be expensive to install, you reduce your water usage and eliminate the need for fertilizers and seeds. Upkeep is also easier because you don’t have to spend as much time and energy on mowing or weeding. Plus, synthetic grass is durable—lasting up to 25 years!

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Utilize Xeriscaping

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Live somewhere that doesn’t get much rain? With xeriscape landscaping, you can have a lush backyard while still being eco-friendly. Xeriscaping is a sustainable landscape design consisting of regional, drought-resistant plants, meaning you won’t have to use much water to have a beautiful and eco-friendly yard. Xeriscaping often uses elements of hardscaping, which can include eco-friendly pavement options like irregular stones, recycled asphalt and concrete, gravel, and permeable pavers. Xeriscaping also eliminates the need for harsh pesticides and fertilizers since the plants typically used in xeriscaping don’t require much upkeep.

Plant a Native Garden

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If you don’t want to do a full xeriscaping backyard makeover, you can still add some eco-friendly updates with native landscaping! Planting greenery and flowers that are native to your region can save you money, as they will grow more easily and require less maintenance. Plus, creating a pollinator garden filled with native plants and flowers helps draw in bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other species. Having these pollinators in your yard provides an array of environmental perks, including supporting crop growth and controlling the population of pests.

Save Water with a Smart Irrigation System

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Whether you need to care for your grass, flowers, or other plants, think about installing an automatic garden watering system to cut down on water use. Underground irrigation systems with high-efficiency sprinkler heads are less expensive, and many come with irrigation controllers that monitor local weather data and landscape conditions to tailor watering schedules. This can be especially beneficial in drier areas where water conservation is vital.

Consider Rainwater Harvesting

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There are plenty of ways you can collect rainwater right in your backyard! One green backyard idea is to start water recycling with a rain barrel system. You can install a drainage system that helps water go directly to your garden, or collect rainwater from your gutters using a downspout diverter. Collecting rain runoff from your roof allows you to repurpose it for other uses like watering your lawn, trees, or filling up outdoor fountains and ponds. However, make sure to take appropriate precautions to ensure the rainwater you collect is safe for use.

Start a Compost Pile

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Looking for ways to reduce waste? Try using food scraps and yard waste for backyard composting! Outdoor compost bins enrich your garden’s soil, reduce the need for chemical fertilizers, repurpose green waste like lawn clippings and fallen leaves, and help eliminate methane emissions. Decide whether you want to build a DIY compost bin or purchase a compost tumbler. Then place your outdoor compost somewhere with plenty of shade and access to fresh air and water.

Choose Eco-Friendly Lawn Care Tools

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When it comes to caring for your backyard, there are plenty of eco-friendly lawn tools to choose from. Electric lawnmowers and leaf blowers are good options because they don’t rely on gas to function and consume less energy. In fact, typical mowers and leaf blowers cause a lot of pollution, so investing in an electric mower can help reduce your carbon footprint. Similarly, manual lawn mowers or cordless string trimmers, edgers, and other lawn maintenance tools with rechargeable batteries are great eco-friendly alternatives to consider. And don’t forget about the benefits of grasscycling—leaving grass clippings on the lawn adds nutrients to the soil!

Upgrade Your Outdoor Lighting

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If you are looking to update your landscape lighting, consider swapping out old outdoor light fixtures and installing solar-powered lights or energy-efficient LED lights. Illuminate your garden pathway, deck, and patio with exterior lighting like garden stakes, path lights, and LED flood lights. Or put up hanging solar lanterns and string lights to increase the ambiance of your backyard!

Install Solar Panels

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Reduce your energy bills and dependency on fossil fuels by installing solar panels on your roof or mounting them on your pergola. These panels soak up energy from the sun to help power your home and backyard amenities like water features and lights. Even when it’s cloudy, solar panels still draw energy and produce around 10-20% of the power generated on regular sunny days. To top it off, investing in this energy-efficient home upgrade may also qualify you for a tax credit!

Buy Sustainable Outdoor Furniture

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When it comes to choosing outdoor furniture with the planet in mind, there are tons of ways to have a comfortable and cozy backyard that’s also eco-friendly! Instead of choosing outdoor furniture made from plastic or synthetic fabrics, try searching for patio furniture made from organic and natural materials like canvas, cotton, bamboo, teak, and reclaimed wood. For their longevity, furniture made out of organic materials will need to be stored properly during the cold, rainy, or winter months. Other green options include buying secondhand outdoor furniture or items made with recycled plastic, since these options help reduce waste.

Build an Eco-Friendly Deck

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If you’re looking for an additional outdoor seating area in your backyard, building a deck may be the perfect green upgrade for you! Try using sustainable wood for your backyard deck, with options including cedar, redwood, and pine. Not only do these natural materials resist scratches and damage from rain and UV rays, but they’re also biodegradable, as opposed to recycled composite decking. Additionally, utilizing eco-friendly natural wood more resistant to rot will help lower the likelihood of decay on your outdoor deck.

Look Into a Natural Swimming Pool

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If you want to have a swimming pool in your backyard without the harmful environmental effects, build a sustainable natural pool! Natural swimming pools don’t require the use of harsh chemicals like chlorine—instead, they use a biofilter comprised of plants and rocks like water lilies, cattails, and shale to naturally filter and oxygenate the water. Unlike a traditional pool, you don’t have to cover, drain, or refill the eco pool in different seasons, which comes with lower maintenance costs. This natural waterscape can also blend with the rest of your backyard’s design to create a beautiful, eco-friendly oasis!


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