Nature has the frustrating habit of always wanting to spread on our land. It is invasive. Until recently, we fought it with lawnmowers, cutters and pesticides. But times have changed. More and more owners are letting nature spread. We are in the era of eco-friendly housing.
All owners can contribute to the fight for survival of the planet, not only by carefully choosing the materials for their home, but by taking their fight outdoors: greenery, garden, back yard, driveway and relaxation and reception area.
If you build a deck, a patio or other outdoor structure, whenever possible choose a material that doesn’t need any toxic agents for finishing or preservation purposes: solvent, stain, sealing product, etc. If not, make sure there’s very little.
Wood, stone, brick and even concrete are materials that co-exist very well with eco-friendly housing. Composite wood made of recycled plastic and wood fibres are not bad either. Because they are smaller structures, you have the ideal opportunity to opt for recycled materials.
Grass is nice, but its glory days are behind it. You don’t have to get rid of it completely, but it should be contained as much as possible. Grass requires too much water and chemical products. Grass is not natural. It’s an artificial human creation. Try stone, a rock bed, flower beds and plants here and there and any other natural groundcover. In fact, you should choose indigenous plants, because they require less water and chemical fertilizer.
Avoid using poured concrete and asphalt for the driveway and the primary and secondary lanes. The material isn’t bad in itself, but their smooth surface channels excess rainwater to the municipal sewer system, overloading it while draining pollutants. The natural path for rainwater is the ground. You should therefore opt for pavement that isn’t smooth, like brick, concrete slabs or an aggregate of rocks. Rainwater will drain through the slots.
Speaking of rainwater, why not reuse it? It’s become a common practice. Why not you? The containers available on the market blend in well with the outdoors. If not, the government subsidizes the installation of an underground tank through the RénoVert tax credit.
This tax credit also covers the installation of a wind turbine in your back yard and solar photovoltaic panels. Speaking of these panels, if you like to do it yourself, you can make your own. They will be basic, of course, like the outdoor solar shower during the summer, the solar water pump to water the garden as needed, fruits or vegetables or any kind of water feature: jet, fountain, cascade. Just refer to the reference below.
Once your green paradise is up and running, get out the hammock and relax. It’s a great way to relieve stress and avoid the pollutants in the house if you don’t open your windows very often.
- Le solaire chez soi, des solutions simples et économiques pour les bricoleurs, Vincent Albouy et Jean-Paul Blugeon, dessins Jef Vivant, Édisud, 2009, 191 pages