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D-Magazine Article Green Tips from the Dirt Doctor

Dallas Goes Green
Issue Date Special Report:  D Magazine Posted On 12/14/2007
by Dawn McMullan

  Tips from the Dirt Doctor
Image of howard garrett
photography by Hal Samples

Howard Garrett, aka The Dirt Doctor, is Dallas’ original green guy. He’s certainly its most well known, although he started on the fringe, like most good ideas. A landscape architect by training, Garrett has taken organic mainstream. He has a national radio show, a monthly magazine, a weekly column in the Dallas Morning News, and he’s written numerous books on the subject. He also had a hand greening Frito-Lay’s national headquarters in Plano. Here are his two cents on how you can change the world, starting with your yard:
Plant a Tree
An average tree can absorb up to 48 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. Some of the best to plant for this area are the bald cypress, bigtooth maple, Mexican plum, red oak, and scarlet buckeye. For a complete list of recommended trees, visit

Plant Buffalo Grass
It requires less water and fertilizer for growing than any other grass. No-brainer.
Plant a Garden With Your Kids
What better way to connect kids to the earth than by teaching them about pollination, beneficial insects, and creating a habitat in which something can grow? Makes dinnertime more fun, too.
Go Organic Outside
Stop using all synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals that harm living organisms. Organic solutions are often more long-term and less expensive. And do you really want your kids or dogs playing in the pesticides?

Go Native
Native plants are accustomed to the Texas heat or they wouldn’t be native, now would they? Why spend the earth’s resources continually watering a begonia when you could have lovely lantana?
Take Care of the Trees You Have
Garrett recommends Moore Tree Care (, a division of Lambert’s, if you’re looking for a professional landscape service. Moore can diagnose your tree’s ailments, talk to you about beneficial insects, and put your trees on a year-round nutrition check.
Keep and Use Your Grass Clippings
Mulch your clippings into the lawn, returning all those good nutrients and organic matter to the soil. You can also add these clippings to the compost pile sometimes, too, but never leave them just lying around.

Read More: D Magazine 65 Things You Can Do Right Now

D Magazine contributing editor Dawn McMullan refuses to eat fast-food beef in an effort to save the rainforest

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