New Year’s Resolutions: Go Green in ’17!

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Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus) supplies welcome winter color and long-lasting food for birds and other neighborhood critters.

Happy new Year! It’s time to make (and keep) some resolutions that will help make the world greener and cleaner for all of us. Think about some of these ideas:

— the next time you have a short errand to run, walk or bike instead of driving (good for you as well as for the environment).

— the next time you replace a car, make it a hybrid or electric, or go down one car size. If you now drive a large SUV, can you make do with a medium-sized one?

— Stop idling! The next time you pick up your children from school or park outside the  dry cleaner, turn off the engine rather than leaving it running

— as you replace light bulbs, switch to LEDs or compact fluorescents

— if you need to replace your hot water heater, get a tankless one; buy Energy Star appliances when you need replacements

— turn the thermostat down 8-10 degrees at night (in summer, turn it up at night) and when you go out for several hours

— don’t waste water in your garden–don’t water unless it’s really needed, which really means only when you have newly planted shrubs and perennials

— if you absolutely cannot live without fertilizing your lawn (even though your lawn doesn’t need it at all) eliminate one yearly feeding from your program

— plant native perennials instead of annuals next spring–one little bluestem grass, one milkweed, and one aster will take up three square feet of space AND give you gorgeous color and attract pollinators from early summer through late fall AND be absolutely care free

— plant native shrubs such as serviceberry, gray dogwood, elderberry, and ninebark to attract birds and butterflies all season long

— start a compost pile to reduce the amount of waste your family produces and create your own topsoil

— participate in a citizen science project such as Monarch Watch to learn about the environment and to teach your kids the importance of science. Find reputable projects through government websites or the Cornell Lab of Ornithology: there’s an extensive list here.

— get your garden certified as a wildlife habitat through Bergen Audubon or the North America Butterfly Association. You’ll find an extensive list of resources on the Jersey-Friendly yards website.

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Something to look forward to in spring: a garden of easy-to-grow native perennials.

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