Spring Cleaning: Get A Green Thumb

Reap a greener garden.

This challenge is in partnership with Levi's ®

It's the perfect time of the year to get into gardening. While you're at it, make your garden greener by taking steps to conserve water and make your own soil.

Water Wisely: According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, some experts estimate that more than 50 percent of landscape water is wasted due to evaporation, wind, or overwatering. To maximize water efficiency and benefit to your plants, water your outdoor crops early in the morning. Avoid over-watering; more is not necessarily better. Even better, use a rain barrel. It helps prevent some stormwater runoff, and it’s good for plants because you’re using air-temperature water.

Plant a Pollinator: You can help everyone’s garden grow better by choosing plants that attract bees, bats, and butterflies. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers suggestions for what to choose and how to organize your plants.

Make Dirt: Almost anyone can compost, though it helps if you have some outside space. Composting helps you cut down on garbage waste, and is a great way to make rich soil for your garden. The E.P.A. has an informative guide for beginners. To get started, mix an equal amount of browns (dead leaves and twigs), greens (grass, veggie waste, fruit remains, coffee grounds), and a little blue (water).

There are different methods of composting, but here’s one step-by-step version. First, find a dry, shady area in your backyard within reach of your hose. Second, keeping your items small, add a 6-inch layer of browns and a 3-inch layer of greens with a little soil on top. Mix the layers together. Third, apply another 3-inch layer of browns and moisten the pile with water. Fourth, use a gardening tool to turn your pile every couple of weeks, moving dry materials to the middle of the pile. Finally, when the bottom of your pile is darkly-colored (one to four months later), let it sit for a couple of weeks, then spread your soil all over your garden or lawn.

For an indoor compost pile, you can buy a starter kit or create your own. Make sure you follow the rules for what you can and cannot compost.

Grow Something Small: No outdoor space to your name? You can still do some small-scale gardening by getting some herbs for your kitchen window. Or adopt a plant in your office space. The Heartleaf Philodendron, the heart-shaped Pothos plant, and English Ivy are all plants that will brighten your cubicle, purify the air, and need little care.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user mazaletel.

We're giving away $500 to put this challenge into action! Participate in the 'Clean Up Your Act' challenge on GOOD Maker here.

To learn more about how you can save water every day, click here and take the Water<Less Challenge.

via Douglas Muth / Flickr

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