Posts Tagged ‘backyard’

Lush, green, and hardy, bamboo sets the stage for the perfect garden getaway. When planted in thickets, the grass forms walls that provide privacy and quiet. When in clumps, bamboo is an excellent highlight to just about any backyard.

You already know who’s got the best selection of bamboo clothing and textiles on the planet, but Paso Bamboo Farm and  Nursery is the only place on the Central Coast where you will find timber and exotic bamboos ready to be planted in your yard! The Nursery carries thirteen different species that tolerate extreme temperatures and are available in 5, 15, and 25 gallon containers, or can be dug to order. The staff is also able to create bamboo installations for home and business.

In addition to growing the their beautiful specimens of bamboo, the Nursery holds educational talks throughout the county. The owners love to inform the public as to the remarkable qualities of the plant. Easy to maintain, bamboo is an attractive way to sequester carbon and filter the air. Able to harvested for  building material, craft, or textiles, the giant green stalks are as practical as they are ornamental.

Interested green thumbs are encouraged to visit the Paso Bamboo Farm and Nursery at 5590 North River Road in Paso Robles. For more information, head over to their official site and discover a world of versatile, verdant bamboo!

No one wants pollution spewing into the air, waterways, or land near where they live. Yet with chemicals and substances that are naked to the human eye, how can you know with any certainty what is entering your backyard? Thank heavens for the Internet and crowdsourcing. With the help of modern technology, scientists, and advocates across the world, you have access to the information you need to monitor your home habitat.

Poisoned Places- NPR and their Poisoned Places series has created an interactive map that allows the user to see how polluted their neck of the woods has become. They take their aggregate data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: the Clean Air Act watch list, the Air Facility System (AFS), the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and the Risk Screening Environmental Indicators model (RSEI).

Superfund Sites Where you Live- The EPA allows you to find out if you are living next to a Superfund Site, or an area where pollutants or hazardous waste is located. The site also allows you see how the cleanups are progressing and access community resources that help educate and involve residents in the restoration of their neighborhoods.

Landsat Satellite Images- Pictures have the power to express what data sheets, charts, and tables are unable to infer. Google Landsat takes satellite images from space and through timelapse photography creates videos that chronicle urban development, climate change, and environmental destruction. Time magazine has compiled several of the most stunning pieces on their website.

Ventus: Developed by researchers at Arizona State University, Ventus is a computer game that uses crowdsourcing to track CO2 pollution from power plants across the world. Users are able to enter information as to the size, capacity, and output of each facility in a competition to win top honors from the website’s founders. In addition to identifying the new plants springing up around the globe, Ventus can be used as a tool by policy makers and scientists looking to reform energy infrastructure.

U.S. NRC – Chances are if you live near a nuclear power facility, you are already aware of your radioactive neighbor. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission offers several interactive maps that show the locations of nuclear power plants, waste storage and materials facilities.

 

Growing up near a watershed in Northern California, I was fortunate during my childhood to have had direct and constant contact with nature. I would spend hours outside, observing native plants and animals, digging in the dirt, and making a general mess exploring my backyard. The smells, sounds and textures of the landscape wove themselves into my everyday experiences and became a powerful influence over my decision to pursue a career in science and conservation.  While parks and nature preserves are wonderful to visit, there is something very profound about being able to sustain a dialogue with the environment on a daily basis.  Now that I live among housing developments and manicured lawns, how can I bring a little wildlife back to my home without having to pitch a tent in a forest?

The National Wildlife Federation provides tips for creating a backyard habitat that draws wildlife and promotes sustainable gardening practices. The organization even offers official certifications for homes that have met their guidelines through the NFW Certified Wildlife Habitat Program. Planting native species with a minimum of pesticides and fertilizers will help attract local fauna as well as reduce water consumption and pollution from runoff. Removing lawns and replacing them with vegetation that animals can use for food, cover, and places to raise their young helps to establish a thriving ecosystem.

Backyards can be customized depending on the types of wildlife you wish to attract. Bird lovers can contact their community’s Audobon Society for information on how to become a way-station for migrating fowl and a home for year-round residents. Many branches of the Society also offer certifications as official backyard or balcony sanctuaries.

Flower enthusiasts should encourage pollinators by growing their favorite nectar-rich plants, setting out bird feeders, or even keeping a hive of bees. Butterfly admirers here in California make sure to include the milkweed on which Monarchs lay their eggs and the caterpillars feed as well as hang hummingbird feeders.  Small ponds provide a place for animals to drink, bathe, and feed on the algae and insects that inhabit them.

Apartment and condo dwellers without yards can take advantage of balconies and roofs to add a little nature back into their living spaces. The online article  “Geek Gardening: A Wired Guide to Domestic Terraforming” offers some examples of how to transform lounging areas into productive gardens.  While most of “Geek Gardening” is focused on food production, the blueprints laying out how to best maximize the use of a limited area are great sources of inspiration.  Plants best suited for your area’s climate can take the place of the fruits and vegetables, although any amount of green is good for the soul and health of wherever we hang our hats.

As for my patch of earth, I have decided to start planting drought tolerant species native to California.  Luckily, there are a number of nurseries nearby that specialize in regional flora close to where I live.  Alongside my herbs, fruits and veggies are sages, buckwheats, fuscias, lupins and a couple of baby oaks.  I have already begun to see insect, lizard and bird activity, and am hoping to catch some glimpses of a mammal or two.  As a nature nut, it’s nice to know that I’m not only official, but certified.

 

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