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Gardening is one of the most enjoyable and relaxing activities around. However, even a relatively small backyard garden can require a considerable amount of water in the dry summer months, can contribute to poor water quality and can be a vector for introducing invasive species into your neighborhood and watershed.
Eco-gardens, or ecological gardens, are ways to save natural resources and still enjoy our gardens and landscapes. Many methods of eco-gardening are available, and preferences and names may differ from place to place. For Western Oregon, eco-gardening approaches include Oregon WaterWise Gardening, which uses plant choices to reduce water use, leaving more available for other uses such as agriculture, drinking water, and wildlife. If you live by a stream or river, consider Streamside Gardening techniques, using native plants to augment natural stream biology and function. In urban areas Rain Gardens can be an attractive way to absorb rainwater runoff from roofs, driveways, walkways and compacted lawn areas, they are designed to filter out pollutants that might otherwise end up in our streams and rivers.
In eco-gardening plant choice is vital, not just for water conservation and water quality. By choosing to use Native Plant Gardening techniques you will reduce chemical and water use and stimulates use of your garden by wildlife. Unfortunately, some of our garden plants have become invasive pests in wild habitats. In Oregon, these invasives include some favorites such as English ivy and butterfly bush. To learn more about invasive plants and possible substitutes in Oregon, look at GardenSmart Oregon.