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Five things a gardener can do in 2018 to make life better

In 2018, resolve to plant more flowers and plants and use less lawn fertilizers and weed killers.
In 2018, resolve to plant more flowers and plants and use less lawn fertilizers and weed killers. AP

The budding New Year means a fresh look at how you manage and maintain your landscape.

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t give a hand to your green thumb and make some New Year’s resolutions that will benefit your garden.

We all need plants to survive on this planet, so a few simple changes can save resources, benefit pollinators and other wildlife and help all living things breathe easier.

That’s some lofty benefits for these down-to-earth resolutions for how gardeners can save the world in 2018:

Plant more flowers. Pollinating birds and insects make the world go round as they flit from flower to flower, allowing crops to bear fruit and feed a hungry world.

The bee, bird or butterfly that visits your beautiful bloomers might be visiting herbs and other food plants next. Some pollinators travel the length of our coast during their short life spans, and the fewer flowering plants, the fewer rest and recharging stations our pollinators have along the way.

Check list: Resolve to plant three bee- or bird-friendly plants this year. Try a flowering sage for summer, a hardy fuchsia for fall, hellebore for winter and a pulmonaria (lungwort) for spring.

Use more mulch. A mulch is like frosting on top of the soil. It’s sweet stuff that makes everything better.

Mulch two to three inches deep will seal in moisture, block out weeds and regulate temperature extremes. Mark your calendar now to call for a delivery of bark chips, compost or even gravel in early spring.

Nothing motivates one to spread fresh mulch around the plants like blocking the entrance to your garage with a giant pile of bark. Neighbors can join together to share a delivery if a truckload is more than one landscape can handle.

Bonus: Mother Nature will be proud of you. Landscapes with mulch use less water and the mulch acts as a filter to clean storm water before it trickles into the ground water.

Use less lawn fertilizers and weed killers. Lawn care adds more excess nitrogen to our ground water than agriculture.

Lawns in Western Washington need fertilizing at least once a year to crowd out weeds. But choosing a lawn food with slow release nitrogen not only does a better job of keeping the lawn green but also is less likely to add nitrates to our water supply.

Learn to grow a healthy lawn with less chemicals by aerating more, mowing higher and spot weeding rather than spreading a weed and feed over the entire surface of the lawn.

Grow something new. Mother Nature abhors mono culture or an area full of the same plant material. Experimenting with new plants is an investment in knowledge.

You might just discover the perfect dwarf evergreen that eliminates the need for constant pruning near a pathway, a new perennial that blooms early in the spring when hummingbirds need nectar or a brightly colored annual that attracts the butterflies, that attracts the birds, that devour the aphid, that now means you will use fewer pesticides.

Lots of good stuff happens when we add new plants.

Just keep growing. Gardening is good for the earth but also good for you. Nothing else exercises the mind and body while using all five senses.

Even a short time spend outdoors can calm you down and rev up your energy. Save the world and save your health in 2018.

Plant something.

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