What are some easy things I can do outside?


1. Plant native, bee-friendly flowers.

Did you know that bees are a critical pollinator species and that their populations are in decline? Did you also know that bees are attracted to blue, yellow and purple flowers? If you feel like planting something bigger, consider a tree. Bees like flowering trees, too. See below for more information about planting bee-friendly flowers.

More information: NC Botanical Garden, NC Cooperative Extension

2. Plant a native tree

Chapel Hill's hardiness is zone 7b. This describes the temperature at which a plant can growly healthily. Planting trees that fit our zone will help them grow longer, healthier and preserve diversity while balancing nature. A couple examples include Dogwoods and Eastern Redbuds. Lastly, be conscious of the location, depth of the whole and distance from other trees.

More information: Planting Techniques

3. Switch to electric yard equipment.

Electric mowers and blowers produce zero "yard" emissions and don't require oil or gas. Other benefits: emissions associated with the production of electricity at the power plant are regulated and you don't have to breathe them in when you're doing yard work.

4. Move the mower blades up when warm weather arrives.

Did you know that taller blades of grass shade the roots and require less watering? Moving the mower blades up is not only good for the grass, it also reduces the need to water.

5. Water in the early morning.

When the weather is warm and dry, irrigate your yard in the early morning before the heat of the day sets in. This way you don't lose water through evaporation and use more than you need to.

6. Start a compost pile.

This creates reusable materials that creates rich soil for your yard. The US EPA says 70% of the municipal solid waste stream is from organic material. This means composting can reduce the amount of waste that ends up in a landfill. You can compost too with an Orange County compost bins for $50.

More information: Orange County Solid Waste

7. Hang a bird feeder, a hummingbird feeder, or both.

Help protect and nourish our local bird population. See if you can learn all of their names!

8. Create a Monarch waystation.

Monarch butterflies are a species that is vulnerable to habitat loss. Waystations are plantings, like milkweed, that provide a place for these butterflies to lay their eggs. Seed kits are available for purchase.

9. Disconnect your Downspout

Downspouts are commonly connected to drains that feed into the sewer system. Sewer systems can become overwellemed during heavy or prolonged rain. Disconnecting your downspout and letting it drain into your yard or a rain barrel prevents stormwater drainage issues. Furthermore, the water actually becomes cleaner because it goes through the natural filtering system of soil and roots. Plus, if you catch it in a rain barrel you can use it for watering plants.

10. Adopt a storm drain.

Do you have a storm drain near your home that always seems to be clogged with debris? Cleaning the top of the storm grate helps stormwater flow properly and prevents unwanted trash or other debris from getting into our local waterbodies.

11. Pick up after your dog.

This helps keep our local waterways cleaner and protects them from bacteria. Does your neighborhood have pet waste stations?