Sunday is Earth Day – here are some new books at the library that will help you practice earth-saving techniques, have some fun and beautify your space.

Beautiful No Mow Yards : More than 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives by Evelyn Hadden provides plenty of design ideas for meadows and prairies, patios and play areas, ponds, xeric and rain gardens, and edible gardens, to name a few options including specific plant recommendations as well as guidance for converting lawn to garden

Creating Rain Gardens : Capturing Rain for Your Own Water Efficient Garden by Cleo Woelfe-Erskine – Homeowners spend hundreds of dollars watering their yard, but there is an easy way to save money and resources. Rain gardening is as simple as collecting rain to reuse in your yard. This is a comprehensive book for the DIY-er, covering everything from rain barrels to simple living roofs, permeable patios, and other low-tech affordable ways to save water in the garden.

Handmade Garden Projects : Step-by-Step Instructions for Creative Garden Features, Containers, Lighting and More by Lorene Forkner – Part eco-friendly non-traditional, part crafty creative, this book will show you how you can transform your garden into a handmade, personality-infused oasis.

Small Space Container Gardens : Transform your Balcony, Porch or Patio with Fruits, Flowers, Foliage and Herbs by Fern Richardson – This colorful volume on gardening in small spaces provides practical information on creating vibrant plantings in containers and getting the most out of small patios, balconies, and limited space yards.

Feeling a bit of cabin fever, but still a little too chilly and damp for an outdoor excursion? Distract yourself from that restless feeling with an afternoon of crafting. With the help of Decorating with Papercraft, you’ll not only have fun, you’ll end up with something beautiful – and it’s ecologically friendly to boot!

This slim craft book contains a treasure-trove of ideas, from papier mache bowls to lamp shades to boxes and journals. You can indulge in some lovely new papers from the craft store (maybe to make the charming cartons shown on the cover of the book) or use materials at hand – yesterday’s newspaper into paper flowers perhaps? The crafts are fun and cheerful – a mobile of airplanes made out of maps, giant, 3-dimensional snowflakes for the mantel – and are useful or decorative (or both). Most of the projects are reasonably doable, with clear instructions and easy-to-find supplies and only require an hour or two to complete. Keeping cabin fever at bay has never been so fun.

greenchristmasYou can enjoy a colorful, festive holiday and still be eco-friendly. Check out I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas by Anna Getty for lots of simple and creative ideas.

Getty touches on nearly every aspect of Christmas preparations – recipes, decorations, gifts – and also includes lots of general tips. There are the usual “green” recommendations with a focus on Christmas. For instance, buy local (purchase your tree from a local tree farm, and food and decorating materials from the Farmer’s Market), use what you have (create decorations from natural materials in your yard or common objects in your house) and recycle (make pillows out of worn out sweaters or ornaments out of tea bags) A lot of the suggestions have an old-fashioned charm – stringing popcorn for tree garlands, making wrapping paper out of newspaper – that have the added bonus of fun projects to share with children. Scattered throughout the book are lots of eco-tips which are useful at any time of the year. For instance, Getty has several recommendations for “green” shipping, claiming that UPS has the most environmentally friendly shipping policies and the largest alternative-fuel vehicle fleet.

Enjoy a greener and healthier holiday!

dreaming-greenInterested in making your home more “green” and eco-friendly? Afraid that that means that you’ll have to live in a cave or a tiny, windowless shack far from civilization? Then you need to turn to Dreaming Green by Lisa Sharkey and Paul Gleicher – you’ll be amazed at just how beautiful, modern and stylish being ecologically responsible can be!

The 15 featured houses range in location from urban to suburban to rural,  and are scattered throughout the country. While the house styles are mostly modern, they also include a cozy farmhouse, a traditional southern manor and a classic saltbox with a twist. While all of the houses are gorgeous, they are not merely for show – these are family homes that are loved and lived in.

While many of these homes are new-built, many are also renovations showing that being eco-friendly doesn’t require starting from scratch. Beautifully photographed, each house includes a list of “green features” that will inspire you on just how much can be done and there is an extensive list of resources at the back of the book to help you with your own quest for green. There is an emphasis on details – small changes can make a big difference – and going local both with labor and materials. All of the homes take advantage of location and make strong connections to the outside environment. All of it is beautifully done, with style and sophistication.