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Tips to green up your life

Native combo — Cedar waxwings dine on black chokeberry fruit in winter. © Fotolia

Native combo — Cedar waxwings dine on black chokeberry fruit in winter. © Fotolia

Here are some resolutions we can make to green up our lives in 2009.

Give by volunteering to beautify a public garden or to teach others about gardening. For opportunities, please check with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful Inc. ,  or Indianapolis Downtown Inc.

Right plant right place. Besides proper planting methods, make sure to take into account a plant’s horticultural needs, such as sun or shade or wet or dry soil. Just as important is knowing the plant’s mature size. When you allow for a plant’s mature height, width and habit, you have fewer pruning duties. Here’s a guide for planting a tree from Keep Indianapolis Beautiful,

Eradicate an invasive species from your landscape, the neighborhood, a park or other natural area. To find out more: Indiana Department of Natural Resources , or the Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society .

Experiment with something new in the landscape, such as a plant or natural gardening method.

Nourish the soil with organic matter and avoid synthetic fertilizers.

Understand how to work with nature rather than against. If a plant does not thrive in a particular spot, move it or get rid of it.

Plant native plants, which are key to attracting butterflies, birds, bees and other wildlife to the landscape. Our native fauna are hard-wired to look for native flora for food and shelter.

Learn about nature by observing. Observation allows you to detect insect, disease or weed problems before they become serious. It’s also an opportunity to see a flower form from bud to bloom or fruit form on a plant. Next, watch which birds, butterflies and other critters visit the flower or eat the fruit or seeds. Observation provides a solid understanding of how interrelated all the activity is in our landscape.

Investigate the problem before applying a solution. Know if the damage on a leaf is an insect problem or a fungus. That knowledge will guide your course of action.

Food doesn’t get much fresher than what you grow in your backyard or buy at the farmer’s market. Shop local.

Enjoy your garden and its pleasures. Thank you for reading this column and for your comments. Best wishes for the New Year.

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