Archive for May, 2010

May: Improving Your Personal Environment

Posted on 05 May 2010 | Category: Tips

We’ve talked in previous issues about energy-saving improvements that can cut your costs and lessen your home’s impact on the environment. In this issue, in honor of Green Lawn Care Awareness Month, we’ll look at ways to make your home’s outside environment greener and healthier. Thanks to Beth Drucker and Go Green Wilmette for many of these tips.

tips1May To-Dos:

Plant Native Species
Not only are plant species native to our area attractive and hardier than many non-native options, they require less water and fertilization because they’re adapted to Midwestern summers.

Install a Compost Bin
Composting isn’t just a great, green way to reduce organic waste, it makes a big difference in the quality of your soil, lessening the need for fertilizer and other chemicals. Read about the compost bin Get Dwell built and donated to a local middle school.

tips2Install a Rain Collection System
Rain water is great for gardens and lessens usage of tap water, which requires considerably energy to treat and deliver to our homes. A rain barrel can also help alleviate basement leaking by keeping roof runoff out of the yard or the sewer system. Find out more about the benefits and uses of a home rain-collection system.

Collect and Mulch Your Leaves
According to Go Green Wilmette, the village budgets more than $200,000 annually to collect, transport, and dispose of leaves, when they can instead be used to recycle nutrients back into your yard. You can cut down on leaf volume by using a mulching mower.

tips5Ask Your Lawn Care Provider About Going Green
Many yard maintenance professionals offer a natural yard program that avoids or limits the use of chemicals on lawns and gardens, bans the use of leaf blowers in favor of rakes and brooms, uses electric or alternative fuel mowers and other equipment, and reduces water use. Ask your provider about their green practices.

For more information on making and keeping your property green and sustainable, visit Go Green Wilmette. If your interested in building a compost bin or installing a rain water collection system, give us a call at Get Dwell.

tips6

Greening the Education Experience

Posted on 05 May 2010 | Category: Featured Projects

A community volunteer and co-founder of Go Green Wilmette, Beth Drucker isn’t just an advocate for environmental sustainability, she practices what she preaches. So during a conversation with Get Dwell’s Darryl Rose, Drucker shared plans for a three-bin compost unit she had installed in her own yard, one she described as the “Cadillac” of composting systems.

Unbeknownst to Drucker, Rose and his team, thinking the plans looked like an interesting carpentry challenge, subsequently built the system in their workshop on spec. Rose said he had no plans for the finished product, although he considered donating it to an interested community organization.

compost1Around the same time, Drucker found herself wishing for a composting bin for the teaching garden she helps maintain at Highcrest Middle School in Wilmette. She felt composting at the school would not only provide valuable nutrients for the teaching garden, it would offer a real-world lesson in environmental sustainability for the school’s students.

It was then, when she mentioned her desire to Rose, she discovered the system she had hoped for was ready and waiting for her at Get Dwell.

compost2“Get Dwell not only had it built and ready at the shop, they donated it to us and delivered it to the school,” Drucker says. “It was a huge job because the system weighs over 100 pounds. It was a very generous donation.”

Although nine feet long when in one piece, the bin design Get Dwell used was modular, which allowed them to disassemble the unit to get it through school doors.

The three-bin system that ultimately arrived at the school is considered an ideal composting solution because it allows material at different stages of decomposition to be separated.

compost3“You have fresh compost, compost that’s been decomposing for a while and compost that’s just about ready to use,” Drucker says. “It’s the only way to ensure that what goes in the garden is fully broken down and best for the soil.”

Highcrests’s students took to composting immediately. Drucker says she never lacks for volunteers when the time comes to turn and aerate the compost.

“They’re surprised to learn it doesn’t smell,” she says. “And recently, we inserted a thermometer into the compost and found the internal temperature was 120 degrees. The kids were amazed, but I told them that’s compost doing what it’s supposed to do.”

compost4The compost system got a big infusion recently when, in honor of Earth Week, the school cafeteria donated all its fruit and vegetable scraps.

“The kids were very generous with their contributions,” Drucker observes. “Maybe overly generous. There was a lot of uneaten apples and carrots.”

Now, it’s busy breaking down for use in the teaching garden, where it will nourish a mix of native woodland and suburban plants, as well as species that will themselves bear fruits and vegetables.

compost5“The system is such a great addition to the garden, and we’re very grateful to Get Dwell,” Drucker says. “It’s a great teaching tool and it will help keep the garden healthy for years to come.”

Making Rain a Reusable Resource

Posted on 05 May 2010 | Category: General

rainLiving near Lake Michigan, one of the world’s largest fresh-water sources, Chicagoland residents might be forgiven for thinking water isn’t a resource we have to worry about.

But consider this: the drinkable water that comes from our taps requires considerable energy and expense to treat and deliver to our homes and businesses. And a full 40 percent of it is used in the hot summer months to keep lawns and gardens green and growing.

At the same time, water those plants actually prefer – rainwater – is being flushed through downspouts into the sewer system by the billions of gallons. According to the city of Chicago Web site, 310 gallons of water run off a 1,000 square foot roof in a single half-inch rain storm.

tips3That’s why so many gardeners and conservation-minded individuals are installing rain barrels to collect and store rainwater runoff. That runoff isn’t fit to drink, but it’s perfect for uses like summertime watering, washing bikes and cars, hosing down decks and patios, and lots more. Plus, rain barrels can help prevent basement flooding and reduce the strain on sewers during storms.

Installing a rain barrel is usually as easy as finding a pervious location (one that will absorb any overflow from the barrel so it doesn’t pool), disconnecting a nearby downspout and diverting it to the barrel. If overflow is a concern, you can divert any runoff that exceeds the barrel’s capacity into the sewer system using a downspout diverter.

rain3Rain barrels are inexpensive and some municipalities – the city of Chicago , for example – offer rain barrel rebates. There are also products like Rainwater HOG, which offer even more advanced rainwater collection and storage options than the traditional barrels.

At Get Dwell, we can help you find and select a rainwater storage unit, identify an appropriate site for it on your property and handle installation so it works as effectively as possible. If you’d like to know more, contact us today.