It finally feels like springtime at my house and, if you’re looking for ways to be more eco-friendly in the garden like I am, keep reading. As much as I love adding new flowers, trees, herbs, and decorations to my garden, it can get out of hand if I’m not careful. This year, I am stepping back and looking at the plants and garden decor I’m adding to my gardens before I buy anything else. Here are a few simple things that you should keep in mind.

Consider your water usage. Depending on your climate, the plants you want to add to your property may require more water than you want to use in your garden. In Vermont, we tend to have a fair amount of rain each year and I have a high water table. That means that plants that like water tend to do well. However, if you live in a very hot or dry climate, you might not want to have to water your garden every single day.

When choosing mulch, be certain that you choose natural colored mulch instead of one with dye. The dye from a colored mulch (like red and black) will be washed into your groundwater. That’s not necessarily good for the environment or the insects and animals that live in your yard. The dye serves no purpose except to change the color of the mulch.

If you feel the need to add a new gazing ball, a pot or planter, walkways or a birdbath, consider looking for a second-hand option first. You may be able to find gardening accessories at thrift stores, tag sales, on your local for sale pages or on Freecycle. Choosing a pre-owned garden item will save it from ending up in the landfill and will keep your consumption of new items to a minimum.

I love manicured lawns and artfully designed landscaping as much as the next gardener, but consider leaving a few of the pretty weeds where they are. Rather than using toxic weed killers that end up in our water supply, just leave the weeds where they are. Dandelions, chicory, clover, and daisies are actually rather pretty.

If you’re hoping to make a few more eco-friendly decisions in your life, your garden or front lawn are great places to start. Just pick one or two of these suggestions and see how easy it is to make a difference. And, be sure to share your garden excess with friends and family too!