By: Carin Tunney
We believe real change happens when we commit to improve our planet together. And doing your part is easy! Here are some Earth Month ideas to add beauty to your yard, attract wildlife, save money and be a force of change for Michigan.
Start a rain garden – You’ve probably noticed erosion after heavy rains. But runoff also causes problems for the environment. When rainwater collects, it pours into storm drains and sewers, which adds chemicals, pet waste and other contaminants to lakes and streams. Rain gardens slow runoff because water drains slowly into the ground. To begin, direct your downspouts to a low spot. Then, plant water-friendly plants, ornamental grasses and bushes. (Be sure to call MISS DIG 8-1-1 before you dig). Stones, rocks and dry riverbeds can turn your rain garden into a rainy day work of art!
Be a friend of birds – Birdhouses and feeders are an easy way to attract winged wildlife. There are hundreds of wooden designs on the internet. But, if a wooden birdhouse seems challenging, you can reuse items around the home. An old teapot or milk carton works fine, too. Check out this birdfeeder created by Reygan Reynolds, the daughter of one of our own Consumers Energy Green Team members.
Save on energy and your budget – Give back to the Earth all year long by participating in a Clean Energy program. You can get a free home energy analysis to make your home more energy-efficient and cut costs on your energy bill. Or check out our rebates for energy efficient products like thermostats and light bulbs. We’ll even pick up your old appliances as part of our appliance recycling program. Check out MICleanEnergy.com for more money-saving ideas that also make a difference for the planet!
Prepare an Earth-friendly feast – Earth Month is a great time to explore new foods. Visit your local farmers market for farm-to-table produce, herbs, eggs, honey and other organic items. Organic foods are farmed without pesticides and other chemicals. Then visit the grocery store to pick up plant-based proteins like “burgers,” “brats” and “sausage.” It’s an Earth-friendly twist to your backyard barbeque.
Prep for summer pollinators – Add more blossoms to your backyard and lure in butterflies this summer. Find a sunny spot, and research colorful plants. April weather can kill fragile plants, but spring is a great time to prep your garden and buy seeds. Our experts at Native Connections suggest Purple Cornflower, New England Aster and Black-eyed Susans to get you started. Then customize your garden with other plants that provide nectar and encourage butterflies to lay eggs. Avoid pesticides and chemicals that kill insects. We are building pollinator habitats across Michigan. We’ve planted 451 acres so far!
Get a jump on gardening – Unpredictable temperatures make spring planting risky business. But not if you begin indoors. Pick up seed packets for peppers, tomatoes, beans and flowers at your local nursery. Follow the instructions on the packet or use the Old Farmer’s Almanac to know when to plant and how much light you’ll need. You can also teach kids about germination. Try a lightbulb versus a windowsill to see which way works best.
Plant a tree – The most obvious idea for Earth Month is planting a tree. Trees are a lasting symbol of your commitment to our planet. Plus, they provide wildlife habitats, produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide and other toxins. Over time, they’ll also increase your home’s value and help you save energy by providing summer shade and keep your home warmer when the winter winds start blowing. Want to have a larger impact? Our Foundation provides grants to non-profits for planting trees and other habitat restoration efforts. Here are our tips for planting trees.