I am sure some of you will view this as a little nuts, but here is my current goal. I am going to go “off the grid.” Okay, not full-on-survivalist-whacko-in-Montana off, but less dependent on the local energy company for my needs.

How can I do that? Well, to that end, I have already started by making my backyard into a “wildscape.” My backyard, which I have nicknamed Turtle World, qualifies under national and state programs that encourage people to build mini wilderness areas in suburban backyards. It has running water, a bog, a lawn that is largely left to itself (ie native grasses are allowed to grow all season without mowing,) cover for small animals and birds, composting area, and food sources available for a variety of furry and feathered friends.

Creating a “backyard habitat” by replacing part of your lawn with native plants not only benefits wildlife, but it’s less expensive and easier to maintain. Less lawn means less mowing. And many native plants are hardy and drought-resistant, so they need little or no water or care. Since these plants are more tolerant of native insects and diseases, they require no chemical treatments and thus are better for the environment.

The backyard project has been going for about a year and a half now and I must say that it is sweet. I haven’t mowed the back in all that time (although I do create walking paths through the grasses with a weedeater) and I can sit out there year-round and watch the butterflies, lizards, toads, dragonflies, moths, spiders, native flowers, and a virtual aviary full of numerous types of birds.

So what is the next step in lowering my dependence on the power company and fossil fuels? Probably solar. I will either convert my water heater over to solar and/or install some solar panels to start capturing some of the sun’s energy. Some have already heard of my plans to convert one of my pickup trucks to electric. The conversion combined with solar chargers can greatly reduce my use of fossil fuels.

All of this will take a lot of money up front, so it is not going to happen real fast, but hopefully, I will continue to make progress. I am also looking for ideas and tips. Do you know of something that can be done economically to reduce either electricity and/or gasoline usage?

Good Reasons to Reduce Your Lawn

  • Save time and money that you would normally spend on mowing and fertilizing.
  • Attract and provide for wildlife.
  • Conserve water.
  • Reduce mower pollution.
  • Decrease run-off of fertilizers and pesticides.