Spring is now in full swing, and, for many of us, this means returning to the upkeep of a garden. But before you get back to the grind of roots, weeds, and soil, check out some of these tips to ensure your garden isn’t only beautiful but also sustainable.

Focus on Native Plants:

Nebraska is home to almost 1,500 different native plant species. Unfortunately, about 25% of these plants are at-risk. These species are essential in supporting wildlife and native pollinators, as well as keeping our ecosystem in balance. Not only do they help keep everything in balance, they’re also cost effective! Since they have already adapted to Nebraska’s environment, they don’t require as much fertilizer, pesticides, or water, meaning less money you have to spend. You can find lists of native plants on the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum website here.

Reduce Your Use of Harmful Chemicals:

We may associate pesticides with larger scale use in agriculture, but residential use can have a major impact on us and pollinators when not used properly. Overuse can run off into our water supply and contaminate drinking water. Pesticides also harm butterflies and bees – many pesticides poison pollinators when they visit sprayed plants. When using pesticides, use spot treatments where pests tend to congregate and make sure not to spray on windy days, as wind can spread the pesticide to unwanted areas. Want to stop using pesticides all together? Try some of these alternatives here.

Improve Your Soil with Composting:

Composting not only helps to reduce food waste but also provides a more natural, cost-effective way to give plants the nutrients they need. Composting can reduce the need for conventional fertilizers and improve soil’s ability to retain water, once again allowing you to save money. Not only that, composting also can help recover soil that was contaminated by chemicals. Check out EPA’s page on composting to get started in your home!