Green Your Backyard with Sara Bendrick

There are few things more satisfying, fun or rewarding than a great outdoor space for our homes. But how do we do it in a way that is unique to our family, serves our community and is considerate of the environment?

I collaborated with STIHL and our friends at the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) to collect the best tips for designing a fun and eco-friendly backyard. Consider these tips for your next outdoor project.


1. Create a Climate-Friendly Garden

Homeowners will see the immediate benefits of choosing plants that are native to their region and welcoming to pollinators. It can also create a great educational opportunity for the entire family.
  • Putting in plants for native landscape designs can help conserve water, reduce invasive species and in the long run, require less maintenance. Your local nursery can help you identify the best plants to meet these needs.
  • Plant for pollinators like bees and butterflies which are critical for pollinating our food supply. You can also choose plants that flower in different seasons to provide nectar and pollen year round. Attracting and engaging pollinators can have an impact on the community at large.

2. Reuse Natural Resources for Garden Maintenance

Create a Rain Barrel

Harvesting rainwater is an easy and proactive way homeowners can become more eco-friendly while maintaining a beautiful lawn, and landscape, especially in drought-prone regions. Benefits include cost savings on water bills, improved health for plants and reduced likelihood of flooding or erosion. NALP has terrific advice on rain catchment systems to help you save water and money.

Note: Be sure to check the rainwater collection restrictions in your area.

Start a Compost System

Your children will enjoy gathering clippings from tree and hedge trimmings, grass cuttings, leaves and withered flowers from your yard work for composting. It’s a great way to put garden refuse to use. Here are some tips on how to build a worm composting bin to recycle your garden waste into homemade fertilizer.


Use Yard Trimmings as Fertilizer

Using a mulching mower like the RMA 460 by STIHL helps reduce waste and return nutrients to the soil leading to a lush, green lawn.

3. Use Battery-Powered Equipment 

Battery-powered equipment is the most significant trend in the outdoor power equipment industry. With a full line of STIHL Battery Products with a range of power, customers can easily find the right tool that meets their needs. The advantages of switching to battery include:

  • Lightweight and easy to use. With no need to mix gas and oil and just a quick push of the trigger to start, homeowners can tackle yard work with ease.
  • No need to mix gas and oil.
  • No exhaust emissions. Operating battery-powered equipment is better for the environment, a benefit that is becoming increasingly important in parts of the country with emission restrictions.
  • Quiet operation. Battery products are quiet, which helps homeowners or property owners work in noise-sensitive areas.
  • Low maintenance and operating costs.

4. Install Environmentally Friendly Lighting

The installation of LED or solar lighting can also lessen your impact on the environment.
  • Today LED lighting is a standard because it reduces demand on power plants and lessens greenhouse gas emissions. NALP has some great on-trend ideas for lighting.
  • There are also some simple and creative ways you can add solar-powered lights to your outdoor space including my solar lighting project using a wood log.

5. Plant a Tree (or two, or three…)

Plant a tree to make a positive impact on your backyard and the environment. Trees provide shade, which can reduce temperatures and reduce noise pollution while offering a habitat for wildlife.
  • Investing in trees for a property is a smart, sustainable landscape solution that can also serve as a great way for your family to mark a milestone or special occasion and will certainly become a source of enjoyment for years to come.
  • If you have old logs in the yard you’d like to make use of, consider converting them into natural planters, bringing vibrancy and vitality to your outdoor area.

Developing an enjoyable and sustainable backyard is a process, but you shouldn’t be intimidated. Calling a professional landscape designer or contractor at the outset of any project can help homeowners save time, money and often strife in the long run. Consulting with your local nursery can be helpful, too. After all, these professionals can identify ways to help make your outdoor space an extension of your home and make individual landscapes “greener,” as well as provide specific recommendations. An authorized STIHL Dealer can also help you choose the right equipment for the job.

About Sara Bendrick

Licensed landscape contractor, author and TV personality Sara Bendrick has more than 10 years of experience specializing in residential design. She has been featured on several DIY Network programs, including “Lawn and Order” and “Build it like Bendrick,” but is best known for her work as the host of “I Hate My Yard,” tackling tough yards and showing homeowners the possibilities for their exterior spaces. Bendrick is the author of “Big Impact Landscaping: 28 DIY Projects You Can Do on a Budget to Beautify and Add Value to Your Home,” published in 2017.