Garden Guy: Tips for sustainable gardening in Minnesota

With Earth Day on Friday, April 22, FOX 9’s Garden Guy Dale K has some sustainable gardening tips for Minnesotans looking to be friendlier to the earth.

Here are eight tips from Dale K to make your garden more sustainable: 

Use less water. You can use less water by collecting or redirecting rainwater to use on your plants. Another good way to keep moisture in your yard and use less water is by applying mulch to your garden beds – it will improve the soil over time while holding in moisture, so you can enjoy your garden instead of always watering it. 

Compost. Composting is also a great way to go green and keep biodegradable waste in your yard – any leaves, bits of sticks, vegetable scraps, etc. keep it in your own backyard because compost enriches the soil, giving you healthier plants. 

Grow your own food. Growing vegetables at home will help you be more sustainable, save money and also be healthier. There are many ways you can go about getting a vegetable garden started, from buying starter plants to buying seeds. 

"Don’t go too crazy on growing everything and then some of it goes to waste," Dale K said. "Really choose the things you like to eat or your family likes to eat at home and focus on those."

Tune-up your lawnmower. Lawns can be quite taxing on the environment. If you have a lawnmower, make sure it’s tuned up and ready to go, including having sharp blades. That way, you’ll do a lot less – you don’t want the lawnmower that huffs and chugs and burns oil. You can even use a push mower, which is even better for the environment and is good exercise too. 

Ground cover.  If mowing the lawn isn’t your thing or grass is struggling to grow in areas of your yard, there are lawn replacements and ground covers that can replace your typical lawn, and it's easier to care for. 

Use organic fertilizers. There are natural lawn fertilizers with corn gluten, which prevent weeds and are less taxing on the environment. One company that makes this is Sustane, which is a local Minnesota company and is safe for pets and kids. Buying locally made products helps save on transport and trucking, which is also good for the environment. 

When fertilizing your gardens, stick to organic fertilizers labeled with "OMRI" – it’s better for humans and the garden, and is less taxing on the environment. 

Native plants. Incorporating native plants, grasses, bushes and trees into your garden is more sustainable. Native perennial plants provide a pop of color in your garden and are a good alternative to annual flowers. Plus, natives are used to growing in this area, and they provide shelter and food for wildlife and support pollinators. 

Insects. Adding some insects to your garden can help keep pests and grub at bay. It can take some time for these to work, but it’s beneficial to add to your soil.