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How can you incorporate solar power into your landscape design?

You've designed your lawn and garden, put in time, effort (and money) to create a thing of beauty. You've planted natives that are perfectly adapted to the conditions in your region and won't need watering. You've started your own compost pile to provide your plants with homemade fertilizer. You've planned shaded and sheltered areas around your house to minimize heating and cooling bills. You've contoured the landscape to reduce runoff and utilize rainwater. It's the perfect, ecologically friendly garden, but wouldn't it be great if you could use it after dark, too?

Outdoor lighting in your yard can be a safety feature, for when you have to take the trash out at night, but it can also add to your enjoyment of your garden. Outdoor parties, or just the chance to relax or play in the yard after the sun goes down, are made easier when there's lighting in place. If the thought of having to dig trenches for electrical wires or hiring professional help to place extra plugs is keeping you from this sensible addition to your yard, it's time to think seriously about solar power. A large variety of shapes and sizes of solar lights is available at outdoor or gardening stores. You can choose floodlights, tiered lampposts, or simple lights on a post that can just be pushed into the ground. They come with built-in solar collection panels, so they don't require connection to your electrical power source, making them a whole lot to easier to install than electric lights. Bear in mind that you'll be doing the environment another favor if you buy lights (as well as any other garden supplies) that are locally produced -- the more they have to travel, the greater their carbon footprint.

Now you have a yard that is an asset day and night, and in addition, you're going to be saving money on electricity. How's that for a truly green garden?