Just 10 miles away from our Nation’s Capital, this Alexandria, Virginia suburb boasts several homes which are committed to conservation and sustainable gardening. More than adding a rain barrel, you will be amazed at the beautiful and creative features we found in these backyards. What ideas do you have to create for your own garden?
This sleepy little neighborhood borders Mt. Vernon and the Potomac River. You would have no clue it’s minutes away from Washington, DC.
These three homes were featured in a sustainable garden tour sponsored by the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District and the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia. I had no idea how many resources these two organizations have! No matter where you live, I hope this gives you some inspiration to check out the local resources in your area to help you create a more sustainable garden in your home!
We went on a hot Sunday afternoon, It was over 90 degrees outside, and I went along with my Mother-in-Law, and one of my friends and even though we all melted, it was an extremely educational and informative tour. I walked away with so many ideas… I can’t wait to begin to do some more work on our homestead.
Oh and PS – yes… I saved the GORGEOUS water features until the end so you have to scroll through the entire article!!!
One of the biggest challenges any homeowner faces is water preservation and run-off. While stones, rain chains and rain barrels aren’t unique, they are easily replicated. Once feature we implemented in our own home this year was to add more stones to where the water from our garden runs off down the driveway and into the street.
There is nothing sexy about composting. It’s daunting to get started, it’s stinky, a little time intensive, and draws bugs. BUT… it works. We started mini-composting this year – coffee grounds and egg shells. In just a few months time, I am amazed at the difference in the dirt and the crops in our garden. I was so inspired that we jumped off the deep end and took our composting to the next level. Below are a few pictures of how these homes compost. The last picture shows the enormous container of compost and if you look closely you will see the temperature. It’s 175 degrees. No joke.
The next set of pictures show various ways of habitat preservation. All of these homes were “weed free” in that they let all of the weeds and wildflowers grow wild. Definitely prettier than I expected.
This home features an outdoor bread oven. Are you coveting as much as I am? And we would be baking gluten free bread of course!
When we walked into this yard, we were like… what the heck is going on here?!?!? I’ll read the sign to you in case it’s not clear on the picture. While it may seem a little extreme, I love how this family is committed to preserving the environment.
“Plastic Bag Farm. The neighbor’s bags of leaves and grass clippings are collected and used to cover and compost noxious garden weeds. Bags are then turned inside out and hung up so that wind and rain will clean them for use.”
This family built this mud wall with a rooftop garden as a home for the pollinating bees. My MIL stayed far away, but I got up real close to take some pictures. The bees didn’t even know I was there. They were too busy doing their thing. Can you spot the bee in the second picture?
This inspired us to make our own Bee Skep.
What garden wouldn’t be complete without something to eat? Hello, edibles! Grapes and a huge vegetable garden. Be still my beating heart!
Finally, I love this little DIY. It’s so simple. Maybe it’s because they used PBR and Miller Light cans LOL! Oh and a PS here… their fig trees were the size of the Empire State Building. Ok… maybe not that big, but they were HUGE! I have some serious fig envy going on.
And of course, saving the best for last – the water features! I could have sat by this first water feature all day. They had multiple levels of running water, lily pads, and lots of frogs. I saw two frogs total when I was there, but when I went to edit the pictures, I ended up spotting four!
And last but not least… overlooking Little Hunting Creek, which flows into the Potomac River. The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay. Which is why we need to cut down on the number of pesticides and chemicals we use in our own homes and gardens and practice more sustainable gardening. Because it will all come back to us on our dinner plate someday!
We’ve been working on our Homestead from the second we moved in. But I now have so many more ideas to improve upon our garden and can’t wait to implement them over the next year or so.
Fortunately, the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District and the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia have many (free!) resources that I want to tap into. Who knows… by next year this time, our home may be a Wildlife Sanctuary or Audubon Ambassador Home.
I’m also picking up a copy of Garden Revolution which was highly recommended by the experts we spoke with on our tour, AND is an award-winning book from the American Horticulture Society.
Are you Inspired?
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Love, hugs, and preserving our environment.HERE.