Creating a Greener Community or Home Garden
Making Luthy Botanical Garden "Greener"
We are very proud of some of the initiatives taken to make Luthy Botanical Garden "Greener." They encompass many facets of our operations -- from energy consumption to water conservation to pesticide-use. In addition to the environmental impacts, many changes have significant budgetary benefits. Even a few small changes, combined, can add up to a substantial impact and savings. Below are a few sustainable practices we have implemented.
• Cladding structures in lexan or double-walled polycarbonate -- it is more air-tight
and it has a better R-Value than glass.
• Shutting the boiler down earlier in spring and starting it up later in fall saves a
great amount of energy. Additionally, ongoing boiler maintenance and
improvements have increased its efficiency.
• Replacing incandescent lighting with fluorescents, as needed
• Lowering the temperature to 40-45⁰ in a production house for the winter. It has
proven beneficial for many plants in the collection to winter at lower
temperatures, especially many cacti which flower better when exposed to the
• Ongoing weather-stripping and repair to greenhouses -- to make them more air-
tight and energy-efficient.
• Using rain barrels to collect water for the Moss Garden
• We have greatly reduced the amount of turf within the Garden; eliminating highly
maintained turfgrass reduces water consumption while diminishing the need for
pesticides and fertilizers.
• Mulching plantings and planting beds to reduce irrigation needs
• Using drip-irrigation in the rose beds has eliminated water loss from evaporation
• Upgrading our irrigation system, eliminating leaks, and incorporating a new
irrigation controller with a rain sensor. The controller shuts the water off if it has
rained recently, and it is set to water in the early morning, when water loss from
evaporation is less likely.
Plants and Planting
• Using hardy low maintenance plants, especially
natives, with low susceptibility to insects and
disease, strong growth patterns and tolerant of
varied environmental conditions. (See photos
• Reducing our dependence on high-maintenance
plants like azaleas, tea roses and annuals. For
example, we have replaced many annual
plantings with a mix of shrubs, perennials and
and native plants (Rose Garden, Fall Border or
Moss Garden). These plantings require less
water, less maintenance, less fertilizer and
• Reduction of turf -- resulting in less mowing, less
fertilization, less watering
• By overwintering and propagating more plant
materials on-site, we have diminished our carbon
footprint by decreasing the amount of plant
materials being shipped to the Garden.
• By practicing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques we have reduced
our pesticide use (i.e. using biological and mechanical procedures like syringing
and pruning). Also, we have reduced the need for broadleaf pesticides by
accepting clover in turf areas. IPM: environmentally sensitive approach to pest
management that relies on targeted, sustainable and environmentally sound
practices (i.e. disrupting lifecycles, biologicals, horticultural oil). IPM programs
use information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the
environment. This information, in combination with available pest control
methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means and
with the least possible hazard to people, property and the environment.
• We have reduced our landscape waste by 15-25 percent, using composting
techniques and a leaf vacuum that shreds leaves and spreads them as mulch.
• We build and enhance our soils with organics like leaf mould, compost and
manure, making us less reliant upon fertilizers and pesticides.
Reuse and Recycling
• We recycle aluminum, #1 & #2 plastics, glass, cardboard and office paper.
• We reuse plastic pots and flats as well as reusable terracotta pots in the
Conservatory. The combined efforts help to minimize the need to purchase
• We use salvaged brick and stone curbing for projects in the Garden.
• We bring environmental education and programming to the public, adults and
children, with classes like Gardening with Nature or Nature’s Kitchen.
• We offer culinary programming/classes that promote farmers markets, vegetable
gardening and eating locally.
A "Greener" Home and Garden: What YOU Can Do
(For a copy of these tips, click on "What You Can Do" at the end of the page)
• Plant for energy conservation. Plant deciduous trees to shade your home in
summer and allow sunlight to warm your home in winter. With properly placed
trees, homeowners can attain a savings up to 58 percent on their daytime air
conditioning, while a windbreak of trees and shrubs can save as much as 20-40
percent in energy costs.
• Use manual tools more frequently rather than heavily polluting power tools like
gas-powered chainsaws and leaf blowers. You might be able to eliminate some
time in the gym.
• Install a programmable thermostat, cooling less in summer and heating less in
the winter. In winter, you can set it to drop while you sleep and while you’re on
• Insulate and improve your home’s energy efficiency.
• Turn off lights when you leave the room. Replace bulbs with compact
fluorescents or LED lighting.
• Unplug all those electronic gadgets and chargers when not in use. Many
continue to use electricity even when they aren’t being used. For convenience,
plug devices in to a power strip or place them on switched outlets.
• Car pool, use public transportation and walk more.
• When it’s time, replace appliances with high efficiency models. Only use
washers, dryers and dishwashers when they are full. On your dishwasher, use
the air-dry cycle and avoid special cycles that increase energy usage.
• Rearrange a room so you can read with natural light, rather than using a lamp.
• Use windows to the greatest advantage. Utilize natural breezes and air-flow to
regulate temperatures. Use shades and curtains to diminish solar gain during
summer and maximize solar gain in winter.
• Install a rain barrel or a cistern system that collects rainwater, decreasing runoff.
• Develop a rain garden to decrease runoff and promote water infiltration.
• Consider using porous pavement (gravel is a good example) instead of asphalt
for driveways and walkways; the rain will soak into the soil instead of running off
and contributing to erosion.
• Reduce turf -- eliminating highly maintained turfgrass reduces water and energy
consumption while diminishing the need for pesticides and fertilizers. Set your
lawn mower one notch higher to make your lawn more drought-tolerant.
• Mulch plantings and planting beds to reduce irrigation demands.
• Never water pavement or the street; adjust sprinklers to water only where
needed. Using drip irrigation places water around the roots, diminishing water
loss from evaporation and wind.
• Water your lawn only when it needs it. An easy way to tell if your lawn needs
water is to simply walk across the grass. If you leave footprints, it’s time to water.
In addition, implement deep-soaking watering to encourage deeper root growth
and stronger turf.
• Make the most of your watering by watering in early morning. As much as 30
percent of water can be lost to evaporation by watering during midday.
• Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your sidewalk, driveway, or patio.
• Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is
being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.
• Run dishwashers and clothes washers only when they are full. If you have a
water-saver cycle, use it.
• Water your houseplants with water from a dehumidifier.
• Install water conserving fixtures and faucets; regularly check your toilet, faucets,
and pipes for leaks.
Plants and Planting
• Plant the right plant in the right place. Planting appropriately for your climate and
conditions can save you labor, water and fertilization. You can accomplish this
by using hardy low maintenance plants, especially natives, with low
susceptibility to insects and disease, strong growth patterns and tolerant of
varied environmental conditions.
• Reduce your dependence on high-maintenance plants like annuals; they require
more water, more maintenance and more fertilizer.
• Reduce the lawn -- resulting in less mowing, less fertilization and less watering.
• Use organic mulches. They enrich the soil as they decompose, retain moisture,
stabilize soil temperatures, diminish weed problems.
• Use home-made composts in place of artificial fertilizers, peat and other organic
• Use physical and biological pest controls instead of chemicals.
• Plantings composed of trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses and groundcovers,
provide habitat for wildlife, bringing birds, mammals and insects to the garden.
This has the potential to strengthen the ecosystem by enhancing bio-diversity
Re-use and Recycling
• Recycle everything: paper, cardboard, phone books, glass, aluminum, tin cans,
#1 plastic, #2 plastic…
• Purchase environmental friendly products. Buy and use recycled products,
focusing on those with the highest recycled content (copy paper, paper towels).
• Shop at thrift stores and always donate reusable household items and clothing.
• Use reusable shopping bags
• Use your library card rather than buying another book -- save some money and a
• Compost household and landscape waste; it can be used in the garden.
• In the garden, reuse plastic pots and flats and consider using reusable terracotta
• Use renewable materials in construction projects; even better, utilize salvaged
materials like wood, concrete or brick.
• Always copy on both sides of paper. If your printer/copier doesn’t make two-sided
copies, take used paper and copy on the back.
Food and Diet
• Eat locally. In your own garden, you can grow many fruits, vegetables and herbs;
or shop at the farmers' market.
• Eat less red meat; it takes more water to produce one pound of beef than the
average American uses in showers for the entire year.
• See if your local coffee shop will refill your own reusable cup.
• Bottled water is ridiculously wasteful; filter your own and reuse bottles.