Easy, green products for the yard - East Valley Tribune: Living Green

Yardsmart Easy, green products for the yard

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Posted: Tuesday, June 8, 2010 6:30 am | Updated: 9:45 am, Mon Aug 13, 2012.

Every spring, without fail, ads come on TV about the latest new product that makes gardening a cinch. I watch countless demonstrations with fake, powdery soil that bears no resemblance to the clay of my garden. The weeds magically let go of the earth, literally leaping out of the ground at the slightest touch of the new miracle device. Every seasoned gardener knows it is rare to find new products that really make a difference. It's even more rare to find those that exhibit truly green innovations that are also easy to buy online.

When associates of mine heralded the benefits of the EarthBox, I belittled it as just another useless plastic pot. However, I did want to find a solution for my friend Paul, who can no longer bend owing to a new artificial hip. I decided to make him my guinea pig by giving him an EarthBox kit to test.

I discovered this device isn't just another pot; it's a quasi-hydroponic system. The soil sits on a perforated plastic layer above a deep reservoir that rests at the bottom. Plants are anchored in the soil but send their roots down through the holes to drink directly from the reservoir just like hydroponic plants do. A standpipe allows a person to simply pour water in the top to fill the fully enclosed reservoir. When the temperatures soar and traditional container plants lack sufficient root zone to access enough water, EarthBox plants can guzzle all they want.

Paul sent me a cell-phone picture of monster plants rising out of the box. It sits on his patio table where he can fill and pick without bending over at all. I was stunned at how quickly they've matured, making me a firm believer that EarthBox has indeed designed a better planter. This problem-solver is great for apartment balconies, fire escapes, porches, courtyards and patios where in-ground gardening can be problematic. Check it out at www.earthbox.com.

Everyone has a garden hose, but no one wants to look at this purely utilitarian object. This is particularly true if it's next to the front door or outdoor living spaces. Across America, millions of hoses are products of the petrochemical industry. As such, they are highly vulnerable to breakdown due to UV exposure. Discarded, sun-damaged, leaking hoses are also a big problem in landfills. Add the fact that they are downright expensive to replace, and there's both a financial and environmental benefit to protecting your hose.

Dirt Couture has just released a solution to all these problems in one affordable product. Hose Clothes is an attractive, affordable cover for an ordinary garden hose that can either disguise it or turn it into a beautiful accent. Specially manufactured with UV-resistant material, it holds its color and cuts sunlight exposure to extend the life of the garden hose. Hose Clothes not only protects a new hose; it is perfect for slowing the breakdown of an older one while making it look new in seconds (www.dirtcouture.com).

Easy to remove and machine wash, these covers retain their beauty over many seasons. Best of all, you can change clothes whenever you change the color scheme of your outdoor living spaces.

It's rare that I run into truly innovative new ideas in the garden world. When I find them, it's exciting to share with gardeners around the world. For gardening, above all, is the best way to join the green revolution and save money. So whether you dream of fresh tomatoes in your apartment balcony or long to disguise that ugly old hose, consider these new inventions the best of the lot.

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