eco-friendly Gardening tips
Check out this collection of our favorite resources and ideas for an eco-friendly approach to gardening.
Put plants with similar water needs together so that you don't waste water on plants that don't need it. Place mulch around plants to reduce water loss.
Purchase or build a rain barrel to capture water. This water can be used to water plants.
For plants, install a drip-irrigation system. Put all irrigation systems, including sprinklers, on an automatic timer so that it only waters in the early morning in order to avoid evaporation. Limit watering lawns to only 2-3 days per week for around 10 minutes each time.
Change your entire landscaping so that it's water wise. California's "Save Our Water" program offers rebates for lawn replacement, as funding lasts. The rebate is $2 per square foot up to $2,000. Click here to learn more.
PRO TIP: For large mulching projects, go to a lot that sells landscape materials in bulk. This can save dozens to hundreds of dollars compared to pre-bagged mulch from the hardware store.
Plant marigolds, nasturtiums, chrysanthemums, and mint in or near your vegetable garden to ward off aphids, whiteflies, and beetles.
Plant basil, lemongrass, and lavender near your doors or patio to repel house flies and mosquitos.
If you have a pet cat, plant catnip for your pet to enjoy and to repel cockroaches, mosquitos, and flies.
Are snails and slugs eating your plants and produce? Make your own non-toxic slug bait!
Ingredients are 2 cups water, 2 tsp. sugar, 2 tsp. flour, and 1 tsp. yeast.
Mix all the ingredients together and pour into containers that are planted at soil-level in the garden. Check often and replenish as needed.
When a strong blast of water or a treatment of neem oil doesn't work, try these DIY insecticides that are non-toxic to humans and pets.
1) In a spray bottle, mix 1 tbs. oil and a few drops of detergent-strength dish soap with 1 quart of water. Spray directly onto insects and undersides of leaves.
2) Make a garlic spray by pureeing 2 whole cloves with a quart of water. Let the mixture sit overnight, then strain it into a jar with a mesh sieve or bag. Add the liquid to 1 tbs. oil, 1 tsp. detergent-strength dish soap,
Have a rodent problem but want a no-kill solution?
Be sure that your compost and trash containers are well sealed. Keep up with yard maintenance and pull produce as soon as it's ripe.
Still have a problem? Try placing old shirts soaked in diluted peppermint oil. Rodents do not like peppermint.
PRO TIP: Mint can be weedy. It's best to plant it in pots to avoid it taking over your garden or yard. Also, spray insecticides on plants in the evenings to avoid burning plants.
"The hum of the bees is the voice of the garden." Elizabeth Lawrence
Attract pollinators to your garden all year by planting native perennials that bloom in different seasons. By having flowers blooming all year-round, pollinators will always have something to enjoy! This can be especially helpful if you have a vegetable garden or fruit trees.
fall bloomers: California aster, California fuschia, coyotebrush, monkeyflower, coyote mint, and California goldenrod, narrowleaf milkweed
winter bloomers: California pipevine, manzanita, and California buckwheat
spring bloomers: California lilac (ceanothus), common yarrow, western redbud, lupine, penstemon
summer bloomers: golden yarrow, gum plant, columbine varieties, California aster, seaside daisy, narrowleaf milkweed
Not all bees are honeybees. In fact, honeybees are not native to California. Learn about the many different types of California native bees by clicking here.
Unlike honeybees, which build hives, native bees either nest in tree or wood holes or in the ground. Check out this great DIY way to build a mason bee house using recyclable materials.
PS: If you don't have bamboo, you can also repurpose plastic straws or simply drill holes into blocks of wood!
Feed the birds... by upcycling your recyclables to make a bird feeder!
We say that this one is "mostly easy" because unless you have experience identifying birds, it can be hard to know what species might visit your yard. Different families of bird prefer different types of seed and/or insect.
Now is a great time to learn about birds (the Audubon Society has a great bird guide app), or you can download the free iNaturalist app and post pictures of your feathered friends to get help with identification.
PRO TIP: Pollinators are more than just bees, birds, and butterflies. Any insect you see on a plant, including ants, can be a pollinator.