Be climate wise when designing and maintaining your landscape.
Buy Hardiness Zone 7 Plants
To help consumers to choose plants suitable for their climates, horticultural plants are classified by Hardiness Zones. Between 1990 and 2006, Louisville's climate warmed so much that it shifted from Zone 6 to Zone 7. Be sure to choose plants labeled for Hardiness Zone 7.
Landscape for Biodiversity
Landscaping with native species means less work for you. They're better adapted to our local climate; they tolerate our wet springs and dry summers better than many "exotic" species. LCAN member Dropseed Nursery offers native tree, shrubs and more. Providing a variety of niches for different species, especially pollinators, will improve the overall health of your landscape. Learn more here.
Landscape for Energy Efficiency
The type and height of trees you choose can cut your heating and cooling costs. Plant evergreen shrubs near the foundation to block wind. Plant deciduous trees on the south and west sides to block the hot summer sun; in autumn, their leaves will fall, letting in sunshine in winter. Note: If your roof design and solar orientation are suitable for solar panels, be sure to consider trees' ultimate height, so you don't lose your solar options.
Grow More, Mow Less
Gasoline-powered lawn mowers emit significantly more air pollution—including greenhouse gases—than several automobiles! Consider turning as much of your lawn into gardens and landscaping beds as is practical for you. The Metro Air Pollution Control District (APCD) offers helpful information.
Lawn Care for Cleaner Air
Louisvillians who maintain landscaping with gasoline-powered equipment, may trade it for electric models and receive cash rebates from the Metro Air Pollution Control District (APCD). Residential and commercial equipment are eligible, so pass along the word if you've hired out that task. Electric equipment is healthier for whomever uses it as well as the climate.
Care for Existing Trees; Plant More
Trees shade Louisville to keep us cooler. They remove global-warming carbon pollution from our atmosphere.
As LCAN member TreesLouisville, Inc., reminds us, trees make Louisville more livable, clean and healthy. They offer great guidance on locally recommended tree species, tree-purchase rebates, planting instructions, tree maintenance and other topics.
Water as Needed, Smartly
Most established vegetation needs one inch of water per week. (If you don't have a rain gauge, use an empty large tuna-fish or cat-food can.) If you need to assist Mother Nature, your vegetation will develop stronger roots if you water once weekly rather than a little bit more frequently. Aim to do so in the morning, when it's cooler. Better, use "soaker" hoses directly on the ground to minimize evaporation.
Create a Rain Garden
Consider creating a special garden for absorbing storm run-off from your roof, driveway or patio. You'll especially help the environment if it allows you to disconnect downspouts from the sewer system. (Speaking of which, MSD will pay $100 for every downspout you disconnect from its sanitary sewers.) Once established, they require surprisingly little work to manage—and are much prettier. Download this free MSD Rain Garden Handbook for guidance on design and choosing suitable native species. Renters, don't forget to ask your landlord for permission.
Mulch, But Only 3"-4" High
A 3" to 4" layer of organic mulch maintains more consistent soil moisture and is especially beneficial to younger trees and shrubs. But "mulch volcanoes" block rain from soaking in where it's needed and encourage side sprouts that pull nutrients from the rest of the tree.
Note: Keep mulch very thin around Maple trees or skip it altogether.