"Thinking green" adds beauty, saves money

The Plant Man column for publication week of 03/05/06 - 03/11/06 (641 words) ###
The Plant Man by Steve Jones
"Thinking green" adds beauty, saves money
When you think of St. Patrick's Day, what color immediately springs to mind? The answer of course is green! For many of us, that date is also when we're beginning to see "green" reclaiming our landscape that has languished in shades of gray and brown throughout the winter.
For those of us who love the outdoors - whether we're gardeners, landscapers, hikers or cross-country bikers - the sight of that new green is a welcome one and a harbinger of sunnier days ahead.
St. Paddy's Day is the ideal time to "think green."
There are so many ways that "green" can enhance our lives and improve our environment at the same time. I was reminded of this when I visited the Web site hosted by Project Evergreen. "St. Patrick's day ushers in a perfect time to focus on the rewards of maintaining and enhancing the green space in our communities," says Den Gardner, Project Evergreen's executive director.
Invest some time now on lawn and landscape improvements and, as a homeowner, you'll reap a host of benefits both short and long term. Here are some of Den's observations:
Green for a cleaner environment: Growing a thick, healthy lawn returns oxygen to the atmosphere while helping to filter out pollutants that might threaten groundwater. Plants, especially trees, improve air quality by removing carbon dioxide and other pollutants.
Green to reduce energy costs: Proper placement and maintenance of trees for shade and shelter can reduce attic temperatures as much as 40 degrees in the summer and help reduce heat loss in the winter.
Green to add property value: Studies continually show that investment in landscaping improvements can be more than recovered when a property is sold and even add profit when attention is paid to plant size, placement and design sophistication.
If you're looking for more detailed information about lowering temperatures, reducing your utility bills, and increasing property values simply by planting trees and shrubs, you can read many relevant and helpful articles by going to my Web site www.landsteward.org and clicking on The Plant Man link. If you'd like me to suggest some suitable trees and plants for your specific situation, send me a few particulars and I'll do my best to help. You can reach me at snipped-for-privacy@landsteward.org
To find out more about Project Evergreen, visit http://www.projectevergreen.com/ Or you can click on a direct link when you find this column archived at my Web site.

and individuals who create or preserve green spaces. At their site, you can find some before-and-after pictures showing how the city of Chicago, IL, has succeeded in creating some beautiful and environmentally beneficial landscaping projects.
There are some surprising facts that you might not be aware of, according to a downloadable brochure at Project Evergreen's site. For example:
More oxygen A patch of lawn, just 50 ft square, can produce enough oxygen for a family of four.
Cleaner water When your turf is thick and healthy, it acts like a filter, cleaning water as it's absorbed into the soil and the plant root zone, and reducing the likelihood of groundwater pollution
Cooler, cleaner air The grass in your lawn can trap dust and smoke particles, absorbing heat as a sort of outdoor air conditioner.
Allergy reduction A lush, dense turf crowds out weeds, reducing pollen in the air. A pleasant relief for allergy sufferers!
So raise a glass and salute St. Patrick. It's not just the wearing o' the green; it's the THINKING of the green that can make the real difference!
The Plant Man is here to help. Send questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to snipped-for-privacy@landsteward.org. For resources and additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free weekly e-mailed newsletter, go to www.landsteward.org
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