When we first met Ann Lovejoy many years ago, we were delighted to find a kindred spirit. Like us, Ann has always believed that a natural, organic-based approach is the best way to make gardens lush and beautiful.
So we weren’t surprised when Ann elected to write a column for the Kitsap Sun about our latest outreach program, “the Five Myths of Sustainable Gardening.”
Here is Ann’s column. You can read the original here.
“Years ago, I met an ardent pair of landscapers with a big dream. Sickened by escalating pesticide use, Ladd Smith and Mark Gile wanted to change the landscaping ethos. They dreamed of creating a harmonious, earth-friendly program that would result in lush, lovely gardens and thriving lawns using few or no pesticides. Together they founded In Harmony, now one of Puget Sound’s premier sustainable landscaping businesses.
In Harmony’s 5-Star EnviroStar status reflects their passion for teaching as well as pioneering sustainable business practices. To be awarded the fifth star, businesses must offer some public good. In Harmony supports several local organizations, notably Seattle Youth Garden Works, a training program for homeless and underserved young folks, and Northwest Harvest, Washington’s statewide food bank.
In Harmony’s most recent outreach program debunks major misconceptions about sustainable landscaping. Called “the Five Myths of Sustainable Gardening,” this educational effort examines common misunderstandings that prevent people from adopting sustainable gardening practices. According to Smith, the primary myth is that one person can’t make a difference. When he hears that, Ladd suggests being part of the solution. Whenever a toxic landscape becomes a benign, safe environment, that’s a win-win.
Instead of attacking problems, sustainable techniques support solutions. First steps include improving soil quality with compost, boosting plant health and resilience. Add organic mulch to reduce watering needs and suppress weeds. Next, replace pesticides with biological controls, from ladybugs and green lacewings to beneficial nematodes and parasitic wasps that prey on caterpillars. Matching plants to the available environment reduces stress and diseases. Reduce lawn size to shrink costly maintenance. Add easy-growing plants that nurture birds, butterflies, and beneficial bugs that are nature’s own pollinators and pest controls.
Myth 2 is that sustainable gardening is an all-or-nothing proposition. In reality, of course, every little bit helps. Any positive change is one less blow to the health of the planet. Use a step weeder on dandelions instead of toxic weed-and-feed. Nourish the lawn with slow, steady organic fertilizers and watch weeds get crowded out by dense, strong turf. Make a rain garden to eliminate standing water in winter. Grow something delicious. Make a compost bin instead of paying for yard waste removal.
Myth 3: Gardening sustainably is too expensive. Any kind of landscaping can be expensive, so pick a project each year or two. Begin with soil-building, then add raised beds later. Replace unsuccessful plants with regionally appropriate choices.
As soil and plant health improve, care costs plummet, so track your savings and reinvest in the next desired project. Be aware that professional landscapers may perceive sustainable design as eliminating a steady maintenance job. If you hire professional help, choose a company with proven results of improved landscape health and appearance and reduced maintenance needs.
Myth 4: Sustainable gardens are not my style. Really? In fact, sustainable design can reflect any style you prefer, from formal to naturalistic. Sustainable design can reduce maintenance by eliminating time-wasting chores without sacrificing the look you love.
And lastly, Myth 5: Gardening sustainably means I can’t have a lawn. Sigh. The great news is that sustainable lawns are more attractive and less costly to maintain than chemically treated lawns. Why? It all starts with the soil, the foundation of garden health.
There are plenty more ideas and guidelines available for free on In Harmony’s website (www.inharmony.com), along with examples of clients’ beautiful landscapes. If you want a lush, pesticide-free lawn and a gorgeous garden, In Harmony’s generosity can help you get there, starting right now.”
Ann Lovejoy has been a passionate, well-known and widely respected garden writer for many years. According to the Bainbridge Public Library, “Author of more than 18 books, she has been called the Mother Theresa of organic gardening and in 1996 was awarded the American Horticultural Society’s Horticultural Writing Award for excellence in writing and significant contribution to horticulture.”
You can find Ann’s latest writings in a blog for Log House Plants.