Many chemical fertilizers are made from natural gas and other nonsustain-able resources. They also often have a high salt index, which means that they salt the soil, making conditions tough for the many beneficial microorganisms on which your plants depend for true well-being. Also, many chemical fertilizers act very quickly, which means that they can burn plants by overloading them with excessive nutrients — and then go away, leaving the plants stranded. Using chemical fertilizers on plants is like expecting your body to live on coffee and chocolate bars. It's tempting but not so healthy.
Sustainable gardeners depend on organic fertilizers that provide nourishment for the entire soil food web, not just the plants (see Chapter 16 for details). Organic fertilizers are made from renewable natural sources rather than petroleum. They're much less likely to cause pollution from runoff and to leach into groundwater. And they don't burn plants. They apply nutrients gradually — as plants prefer — and stick around for the long haul.
The truly sustainable landscape doesn't depend on fertilizers, because nutrients never leave the site. Everything that's pruned from a plant is returned to the soil in the form of compost or sheet mulch (find out more in Chapter 20). It's fine to use fertilizers for the occasional special treat or when nutrient levels need to be high for spring growth or other situations, but your plants should be able to coast along on their own waste most of the time.
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How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.