by Guest Ranter Joe Lamp’l

They say that ignorance is bliss.  I say that ignorance is killing our

I seem to be a lot more sensitive these days to wasted opportunities to be eco-friendlier. As a lifelong passionate gardener and one who has always appreciated and respected nature, I thought I was doing a pretty good job
protecting and preserving it too. That is until I started becoming more aware of all the things I could be doing better to lighten my footprint in my own little corner of the world.

I wrote The Green Gardener’s Guide primarily for two reasons. First, I wanted to raise the environmental awareness of the many well-intentioned yet uninformed gardeners and weekend warriors out there. Second, I wanted to offer real solutions. Although the title is rather succinct, it’s the subtitle that strikes at the core of my purpose behind this book: Simple significant actions to protect and preserve the planet. As a group, we’re a pretty large force at 90 million strong. Yet while we’re creating so much beauty, we do a lot of not-so-pretty things.

Here are but a few examples:

Watering! We do it in the middle of the day or every day or off target. So is it any surprise that about half of all outdoor water use is wasted? We’re facing a global water crisis yet simple steps could save billions of gallons. In addition, those bad practices contribute to unhealthy plants, which the uninformed usually treat with chemicals that do nothing to help and in many cases create even more problems.

Runoff! On a related note, water that isn’t absorbed into the ground runs off into watersheds and storm management systems, taking with it harmful contaminants, either from our own yard or our neighbors. The impact to habitats and ecosystems is staggering…and avoidable when we learn how easy it is to keep much of that water from leaving our property.


Contrary to popular belief by the uninformed, more is not better! Ranters know is but many others still pursue the greenest, weed and pest-free lawn and gardens in America using a 100% chemical diet. I stand in those aisles at the big box stores agape when I hear what some of these consumers plan to do with that stuff in the bag or bottle. All they want is something that works and works fast. I have a hard time keeping quiet.

Lifeless soil!
Feed the soil and let the soil feed the plant. The environmental and horticultural benefits are far-reaching, from controlling erosion and runoff to the billions of microorganisms that nurture plants. Sadly many people don’t have a clue about this concept.

Wrong place!
Putting a perfectly healthy plant in the wrong place is asking for trouble. For the unsuspecting gardener, it invites a multitude of unsuccessful attempts at throwing random chemical fixes at the problem. We know the only real solution is to plant it where it belongs in the first place.

Mow & Blow!
One gas-powered mower pollutes as much as 40 cars on the road for the same amount of time… just one!  And blowers and trimmers are even worse. During the growing season, about 50 million lawns are cut each week in America.  You don’t need to do the math to know that’s a lot of harmful emissions. Rechargeable, electric, or good old-fashioned people power makes for a much greener solution.

Horticultural Waste!

Over 60% of what ends up in a landfill, doesn’t have to be there because it can be recycled or composted. Seeing plastic garbage bags of grass clippings and other yard debris on the curb makes me cringe. And can we please settle on a uniform way to recycle plastic pots or at least make it easier to find them a second home?

A favorite quote by Thomas Fuller in 1732 sums it up for me; “We never know the worth of water till the well is dry”. Today, we are consuming resources at unprecedented and unsustainable rates. I’m not trying to change the world, but with the help of many of you, I would like to enlighten the roughly 90 million of our gardening peers that collectively have the power to make a significant difference.

Lamp’l is the host of GardenSMART on PBS, Fresh from the Garden on the DIY Network and is a sought-after speaker around the country. He is a Master Gardener, Certified Landscape Professional and the founder of
The joe gardener Company.  He blogs at Compost Confidential.