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7 Steps to a Greener Home

Living green in your home does not require LEED certification, solar panels or a state-of-the-art geothermal heating and cooling system. In 7 simple (and inexpensive) steps you can transform your home life into one unburdened by the guilt that comes from excessive waste, wanton consumption and the use of noxious toxins. In other words, it IS easy being green!
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Step 3: Plant a Garden

Start a garden -- or four!
Start a garden -- or four!
Living green is largely about doing what's good for the environment and for Mother Earth. There's no better way to feel connected with nature than by starting a garden for the home.

The feel of the dirt in your hands, the sun on your back and the smell of natural growth establish a connection to your home's immediate outdoor space that cannot be undervalued.

And while a flower garden certainly counts, a vegetable garden adds practicality and actually provides for the family. Growing your own vegetables and herbs lowers your food costs and also reduces demands for foods that require a lot of oil to be grown and shipped to your local market.

To get started, you'll want to learn some of the basics on how to maintain a vegetable garden. For example, it's important to keep the top 6 inches of soil moist for seedlings and the younger plants. Also, a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch around the plants will suppress weeds and help maintain soil moisture.
Read more on Maintaining a Vegetable Garden

Growing herbs requires a slightly different approach and techniques. Small containers or window boxes can make great homes for growing herbs. Just keep in mind that most need at least 6 hours of sun a day. Some herbs like chives, cilantro, mint and dill can tolerate more shade. Read more on Herb Gardening Basics

Every home produces waste. But a good portion of that waste can be turned into compost, which in turn can go right into the garden. Creating a compost pile requires a little more effort than simply dumping the coffee grinds and banana peals in a hidden corner of the yard. To do it right, consider buying a composting bin or building your own compost heap enclosure. This will contain the project and help ward off curious critters. A healthy compost pile consists of a balance between brown and green ingredients. Brown compost ingredients includes old yard waste (leaves, bark, dried grass, etc), wood chips and coffee filters while green waste includes fresh yard waste, vegetable peelings and tea bags. Once assembled, the pile will require some monthly maintenance to keep the chemical breakdown working properly.
Read more on Starting a Compost Pile
Watch how to Build a Compost Heap

Don't forget to use organic fertilizer!

Browse through this Photo Gallery of Backyard Gardens for design ideas and inspiration.

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