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Earth Day at Your Place

Celebrate your connection to our planet with simple native gardening tips!

Published April 15, 2020

Brown-Belted Bumblebee on Purple Coneflower

No matter what life throws at us even in the most challenging times, we can rely on the reassuring consistency of the natural world: The sun will rise and the seasons will change, bringing new growth and a chance to get outside. It is probably no coincidence that 50 years ago, the original organizers of Earth Day chose spring as an ideal moment to celebrate our connection to the planet that sustains us.

While Earth Day is a global celebration, the health of our most local environments has never felt more important than it does right now. Let's live our commitment to a greener future on a micro level this year by tending to our own backyards in three simple steps!

1. Root Out Invasives.

Understanding the difference between native and invasive species of plants is a great place to begin any at-home gardening efforts. Just as selecting native plants that can thrive effortlessly in our region and climate is critical to maintaining an eco-friendly yard, eliminating invasive species makes room for native species to flourish. Invasive species are transplanted into our region either intentionally or accidentally, and their presence is in most cases detrimental to the health of native species. Examples in the mid-Atlantic region include English Ivy, which is known to spread quickly and take over the space and resources necessary for native species to succeed. Start tending to your garden by weeding out invasive culprits.

2. Go Native!

Viceroy Butterfly on Common Boneset

Native flowering plants and vegetables have grown naturally in our regional soil for hundreds of years, so they are already inclined to do well. They also do not require fertilizers or chemical plant "foods," which can enter our ground water, rivers and streams and wreak havoc. Planting native species attracts local pollinators from caterpillars to birds and crucial bees, which help us all by pollinating everything from cultivated crops to wild plants in our region. To learn what types of plants will work best in your yard, browse our gardening resources and order or select appropriate plants from local nurseries that specialize in native species.

3. Let the Magic Happen!

Once you've invited native species back into your space, watch Mother Earth work her magic and hold off on adding any type of fertilizer until fall. When you mow your lawn, don't bag your clippings. Trimmed grasses readily decompose and provide nutrients for grasses and plants in your garden. By planting an array of native species, you'll also assist in cross pollination between plants. Diversifying your landscape with larger trees and shrubs creates a hearty root structure which further limits chemical runoff into our streams and waterways.

Monarch Caterpillars on Common Milkweed

It's time to get out there and give something back to nature! Be sure to share the results of your beautiful spring gardening work with us: social@aqua.org.

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