You Can Make a Difference in Your Backyard and Community!
Ten simple steps to improve the health of people and the planet
Learn more about gleaning.
Being a force for good is at the core of our business. This new year, we invite you to join us in our mission to improve the world through gardening. It doesn't have to be complicated — just doing one thing on this checklist will get you well on your way to making a huge difference in the health of people and planet. If you can do all 10 — you're a superstar!
Volunteer Your Time
Use — or sharpen — your gardening skills by volunteering on gardening projects in your community. Social service organizations, nursing homes, and schools are among the many groups that would welcome your enthusiasm and expertise. Learn how Ian McKenna, shown below, grows food for those in need in his community as part of a nationwide network of youth gardeners called Katie's Krops.
Compost Your Food Scraps
The less that goes to the landfill the better. Whether you have a backyard composter or a community composting program, it's a fantastic and cost-effective way to reduce waste. Learn all about composting.
Build Healthy Soil
Add compost — it's nature's fertilizer! Spread it in your garden beds and add it to planters. If you want to know more about the soil in your backyard, have it tested to determine texture, content, and pH levels. Building Healthy Soil is pretty straightforward once you know how.
Share the Harvest
Donate produce from your garden to your local food pantry, or share it with a neighbor. Create flower bouquets for social service organizations or simply to brighten someone's day. Find a place to donate.
Add a bee house or plant bee- and butterfly-friendly gardens. We've created three free pollinator garden plans for attracting butterflies, attracting bees, and attracting hummingbirds to make it easy!
Encouraging a variety of plant and animal species ensures the sustainability of healthy ecosystems. Integrate a new native plant into your landscape, but be sure to avoid anything on your state's invasive species list (Google it!). Learn more about Gardening with Wildflowers and Native plants.
Grow Your Own Food
Start with an herb garden or choose a few easy-to-grow vegetables that you love to eat. Homegrown tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes are easy with a simple grow bag — and delicious too! If you have the space, try incorporating some edible plants into your decorative landscape. These tips and tricks for Vegetable Gardening for Beginners will get you going.
Install a rain barrel, switch to drip irrigation, or just water more wisely. If you give your garden a good soaking in the morning rather than at noon, you'll lose less water to evaporation. Eight Steps to a Water-Wise Garden offers simple ways to use less water and help plants thrive.
Share Your Passion
Teach the next generation of our earth's stewards the joys and rewards of gardening. Partner with local schools, or use some of the free resources for educators at KidsGardening.org.
Switch to Earth-Friendly Pest Control Methods
Protect your garden without poison by adding a barrier or introducing beneficial insects to your yard. There are lots of effective, natural alternatives to toxic chemicals to choose from. Some pests, such as the Colorado potato beetle larvae shown below, can be excluded with row covers or kept in check with daily hand picking. Our Pest and Disease Directory offers loads of tips.
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