Wherever you are in the continental 48, evidence of spring is starting to pop up! As the weather warms up and the days get longer many of us feel inspired to do some kind of home improvement. In this post we’ll take a look at several kinds of projects that are perfect for this time of year – from large to small!

BIG PROJECT: DECKING 

Trex Decking: Start spring off with a Trex Deck! Beautiful, durable, and sustainable, a Trex deck will give you years of enjoyment with minimal maintenance! Easy to install, with lots of options for railings, colors, patterns and even lighting! Using a unique combination of recycled plastic and reclaimed wood, Trex products provide the best qualities of both materials. 

 

 

 

MEDIUM PROJECT: GARDENING
Start on your yard now so it is in great shape for summer! There are lots of green choices you can make for your yard and garden beds. Here are some of our picks:

Heirloom Seeds: Three wonderful Heirloom Seed Collections: Herbs, Flowers, and Vegetables from the oldest seed house in America.  Rain Barrel: Collect and store rain-water in this collapsible barrel for use around your garden when rain is scarce. Easily folds away for storage Compost Tumbler: The Tumbleweed
Compost Maker rotates on a solid steel axis to turn kitchen and garden scraps into compost.

 

SMALL PROJECT: SPRING CLEANING (On Sale through April 20)
It feels so good on a bright spring day to open the windows, let in some fresh air, and start clearing out the cobwebs that may have collected un-noticed over the winter. If you are planning to do just that in the next few weeks, be sure that your cleaning products are themselves as clean as they can be! We’ve got a full range of spring cleaning supplies from non-toxic cleansers to scrubbers and cleaning cloths from sustainable materials.

   
Green Depot Tub and Tile Cleaner: Formulated with low pH organic salt, this highly-concentrated, non-corrosive tub & tile cleaner emits no irritating fumes. Full Circle Cleaning Mitt:
Tough, natural loofah on one side, soft absorbent bamboo fiber on the other. Shaped to reach into tight corners.
Sebo X4 Automatic Upright Vacuum: Protect your carpets and your health with the high-tech, beautifully engineered SEBO X4 vacuum.
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Eco-Friendly Fall Yard Care

October 14th, 2011 | Posted by sschultz in Environment | Gardening - (0 Comments)

Fall is here, the leaves are changing color, and for many of us that means that our yards will soon be covered in Autumn foliage. Fall leaves can be undeniably gorgeous, but if left to build up on lawns for too long they can affect the health of your grass. Treat your yard right over the next several weeks and you will be rewarded with lush, springtime grass. Fall Yard Care can be an inexpensive, quiet, and low-toxic activity that gets you outside and gets you moving.

The first step is to make sure that your lawn is the proper length going in to winter. Most websites recommend that your final clipping of the year leave your lawn about 2 inches high. Next, you’ll want to clear the leaves off of your lawn periodically to avoid smothering your grass over the winter. Retire your leaf blower and make sure you have good rake. Raking instead of using a leaf blower gets your body moving better, and is much easier on your neighbors too.  Make sure your rake has a good handle, and remember to switch the position of your hands from time to time to reduce strain. A good technique for avoiding leaf-raking-related injury is  to walk backwards with your rake, pulling the leaves straight back with you.   Some leaves can be left under your shrubs and trees to decompose over the winter and fertilize the plants. This can also cut down any mulching you might need to do in those areas to improve the tree’s health and increase its growth rate.

Once your leaves are raked together, do not send them to a landfill! Those leaves store nutrients from your yard and you should make sure you get them back so you make use of those nutrients again for next year’s flowers, leaves or grass. If you have space in your yard, we recommend that you dedicate a small area to composting.  You can create small piles, or you can use a garden composter for easier aeration and turning. Be sure to follow proper composting techniques for maximum decompostition. When your leaves have decomposed, you will be left with a rich soil to distribute around your yard in the spring. If you don’t have space to compost in your own yard, collect the leaves in biodegradable bags for collection. Most cities collect yard waste, and will compost or mulch it all on a large scale!

GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS
We offer a full range of solutions for eco-friendly fall yard care.

Let it Rot The Gardener’s guide to Compost

 Let It Rot! is a classic guide to turning household waste into gardener’s gold. 






  

Brill Razorcut Push Mower

Five flame-hardened, welded steel blades are designed to minimize friction, and allow you to cut your grass quietly, efficiently and easily.





True American Leaf Rake

The True American leaf rake features an innovative head and large basket design to help gather more leaves in less time.



The Reynolds Geobin Composter

The Reynold’s GeoBin, made from a lightweight but rugged plastic, creates an instant compost system.





Click here to see our entire Fall Yard Care collection.

References for this post include: www.homeownernet.com and www.pallensmith.com.

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an intensive green roof in manhattan. image licensed under creative commons.

In terms of sustainability and reducing one’s impact on the environment, living in a city can have – perhaps surprisingly – distinct advantages over living in the suburbs or countryside.  New York City, in particular, is consistently ranked as one of the most energy-efficient places to live in America, thanks to our proliferative public transportation system, reliance on natural gas as our primary energy source, walkability, and mixed-use zoning laws.  Indeed, an average New Yorker’s carbon footprint is about one-third that of an average American.

I don’t meant to offer unqualified praise of New York City and its efficiency, because there are significant environmental drawbacks to living in a large city, as well.  The issues we face in New York are substantial: lack of access to green space; the relatively long distance food must travel to feed our massive population; elevated asthma rates, especially in children; the urban heat island effect; and severe water pollution from heavy rains, thanks to our combined sewage-storm water pipes.

But fortunately, different governmental, nonprofit, and civic organizations are working to address these issues, and Sustainable South Bronx is one of them.

In particular, Sustainable South Bronx (SSBX) is working on the expansion of green roofs – the environmentally- and socially-beneficial effects of which are substantial and numerous.

Green roofs, in their most basic form, are living vegetation systems, or gardens, on the roofs of buildings.  They come in numerous forms, shapes, and sizes, but this is one of their great strengths – they can be adapted to function in nearly any scenario, providing substantial benefits to the buildings and communities where they are located.

Typically a green roof consists of an impermeable membrane across the surface of the roof.  On top of this is placed a drainage layer, a filter fabric, a lightweight growing medium, and finally vegetation.  Roofs which are capable of bearing very heavy loads can support even trees and large shrubbery; roofs which are a little weaker typically support lighter-weight flora like grasses and wildflowers.

The benefits are indeed surprising, and actually mitigate many of the urban environmental issues I listed above – even childhood asthma rates.  Green roofs provide insulation from the sun, and lower the temperature of the building, reducing cooling costs in the summer, and reducing heat loss in the winter.  They also perform important functions for the urban water cycle: green roofs absorb rainwater, preventing excess water from running directly into the sewage system which exhausts into local waterways (including the East and Hudson rivers in NYC).  Green roofs also reduce the urban heat island effect through natural shading, insulating, evaporative and evapotranspirative properties.  They also provide more green space to area residents, and reduce air pollution by trapping particulate matter, and reduce greenhouse gases by absorbing more carbon dioxide.  To read more about the numerous benefits of green roofs, feel free to read this report by Sustainable South Bronx on the urban heat island effect. [PDF].

SSBX was founded in 2001 by environmental justice activist Majora Carter.  SSBx actually built the first green and cool demonstration roof in NYC above their offices in the Bronx; in 2007 they expanded their mission to a for-profit green roof installation company, Smart Roofs LLC.  But what is perhaps most innovative about SSBx’s approach to sustainable community development is its keen awareness of the intersection of social issues and environmental issues, the hallmark of an environmental justice approach.  To that end, SSBx has built green roofs with the community in mind, for the purpose of increasing green space in one of the most dense city neighborhoods, with the least access to green space.

A rendering of the Bronx Greenway. Image: NYCEDC.

And not only does SSBx support the expansion of green spaces throughout the Bronx, they do so through community green job training programs, boosting employment and worker activity, while at the same time improving the health of people and the environment in one of the most underprivileged and polluted parts of New York City.  The Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training Academy (BEST) is one of the city’s most successful green collar training programs.  The program has trained numerous people who continue the upkeep of other SSBx projects – like the Bronx Greenway, where they have planted and continue to maintain over 400 trees.

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many other green products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit http://www.greendepot.com.

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credit: flickr user kristine paulus

People always seem to come together through agriculture.  This makes a lot of sense – the advent of agriculture many thousands of years ago gave rise to sedentary communities that were once nomadic and centered around hunting and gathering.  People congregate where there is a project – like farming – to be undertaken together, as a group.

Growing up on a farm, our small town was a tiny slice of rural culture where folks would assemble at the weekend farmers’ market, at the feed store or the agricultural co-op, or at the annual county agricultural fair.

That little slice of agricultural community is something that I’ve sorely missed in New York.  But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t congregating, on a smaller scale, all around the city!

A few months ago, I came across a charming, and moving, story in the New York Times: Chicken Vanishes, Heartbreak Ensues.”  You might have already read it, but it’s a really lovely story of how a community can form around agricultural practice – even if the people in that community didn’t know how much they were coming together while they were doing so!

In the neighborhood of Bed-Stuy, a family was keeping a family of chickens in the front yard of their home, facing the sidewalk.  Having chickens in the front yard caught the attention of the community’s residents, and the author talks to the ability of the chickens to bring folks together: “The admirers came in droves… In a neighborhood fraught with the tensions of gentrification, making people talk to one another, and talk about something other than themselves, is not an insignificant accomplishment. What I’m saying is that these chickens are important in ways that chickens aren’t usually important.  They are Bed-Stuy’s very own peace doves.”

The story goes on to talk about how their prize hen, Getrude, was stolen one night and the tremendous uproar this caused in the community – folks talked about where the chicken might have gone, offered help in finding the thief to the owners, left signs and banners of support on the fence of their property.  Eventually the chicken was returned by a very guilty young man who admitted to stealing the chicken in a drunken dare.  And, wonderfully, the return of the chicken caused a great positive reaction throughout the neighborhood.

Chickens, bringing people together like that, and in a place like New York City – who would have thought?

Chicken keeping in the city is a growing hobby.  The Huffington Post noted a growing trend of chicken keeping in NYC as far back as 2009.  Indeed, for the aspiring chicken-keeper, Just Food, our own local urban agriculture advocacy organization, runs the City Chicken Project.

courtesy justfood.org and the city chicken project

Funded entirely by member donations, the City Chicken Project offers several resources for city gardeners and farmers who raise chickens.  They publish the City Chicken Guide, run chicken workshops, and have a Just Food City Chicken Meetup in NYC which brings together chicken hobbyists from disparate backgrounds.

And what’s again remarkable about urban chickens are the organizations it brought together – Just Food, the Cornell Cooperative Extension, Added Value, and Heifer International.

Urban chickens get people excited!  It’s a strange animal to cause such allure, but it certainly adds a lot of vibrancy to city life.  And, considering the impacts that the industrial chicken and egg industries have on the environment, urban chickens certainly help improve our sustainability here in the city, as well.

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many other green products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit http://www.greendepot.com.

 

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Springtime has arrived here in New York City!  The last few days have been remarkably warm, and the streets are filled with daffodils, tulips, and flowering trees (much to the chagrin of those of us with seasonal allergies).

It’s a wonderful thing to be able to get to the park or the countryside and partake in the outdoors this time of year.  But lots of us are only able to do so in the evenings after work, or on the weekends.  For those of us at the office or at a desk for most of the day, the lack of nature can be trying.  So maybe the solution is to bring nature indoors!

GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS

Through May 1, all of our gardening supplies are 20% off – including Woolly pockets planters!

Woolly Pockets planters come in two different styles: Freestanding Islands, and Living Wall Systems.  They are both constructed from thick felt that allows excess moisture to evaporate, and a moisture-barrier reservoir that holds water for plants to draw from.  The wall system is totally modular – allowing stacking to create an entire indoor or outdoor living wall.

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many other green products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit http://www.greendepot.com.

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flickr user maggie hoffman

Two years ago, I was living in a loft conversion in the New York City neighborhood of Bushwick.  One of the big perks of living here was our roof access – which we turned into a rather extensive rooftop garden.  We had heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, chard, and any number of other vegetables (and perhaps a few fruits).

But one of the major issues we faced was watering our garden, especially on hot, dry days.  Up on a tar-covered urban roof, raised planters (especially wood planters) dried out quickly.  At the time, our only recourse to prevent our plants from dying was to carry gallon jugs of water up four flights of stairs several times a week.

It occurred to us a few weeks later that we should have collected dew and rainwater in barrels and use those for irrigation!

Even though our plans for rooftop rain barrels never panned out, capturing and reusing rainwater for a garden – or a lawn – is a really great idea.  It cuts down on municipal or well water consumption, reducing your impact on the environment, and on your wallet.  And if you’re watering a rooftop garden, it saves you the torture of carrying dozens of gallons of water up the stairs!

GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS

RAIN BARRELS ARE ON SALE THROUGH MAY 1! Here are three options for storing rainwater around the home:

The Bosmere Pop-up Rain Barrel holds 50 gallons of rainwater from the rain or a downspout.  A screen keeps out leaves and other debris.  This collapsible rain barrel can be stored flat in a work shed or garage and pulled out when you need it.  A handy on/off spigot at the bottom can be attached to a hose or the collected water can be accessed through the wide-mouth top which opens with a zipper for easy pail-filling.

The Garden Watersaver rainwater diverter makes it easy to redirect the rainwater flowing down your downspout to a rain barrel. It Installs right onto your downspout in minutes and is easy to activate and de-activate as needed by removing the hose & adding the plug in winter.

The Slim-Line Water barrel holds 26 gallons of water and is made from molded UV-stable plastic. It comes with its own stand so that you can fill your watering can easily from the tap provided. The barrel has snap on-off lid for easy filling and keeping insects & debris out. This tool is designed to be unobtrusive and compact for small gardens, patios and decks.

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many other green products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit http://www.greendepot.com.

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