Plant Wisely

The saying “right plant, right place” is the key to healthy yards. Plants, shrubs and trees grow well when they like the local climate, soil and wildlife. If you have chosen a plant or shrub that requires fertilizers, pesticides, or extra watering, it might not the best plant or shrub for your location.

Plant Wisely means nothing more than using plantings tailored to your yard’s conditions.

The saying “right plant, right place” is the key to healthy yards. This explains why native plants are so important. Native plants are naturally adapted to sustain local weather and soil conditions.


Native Plants also perform the vital function of providing a food source or breeding habitat for important native pollinators, some of whom, like the Monarch butterfly, are very plant specific. Regretfully, there are some issues that can stand in the way of practicing the simple “right plant, right place” concept:

The Deer

Deer browsing in our area has become a serious threat to our environment in general and to our yards more specifically.

There are only two practical solutions to the deer problem for someone who owns a yard:

  • Creating a physical border at least eight feet high
  • Use deer resistant planting.


Many plant species that have been brought in from other parts of the world now take over much of our native environment, and Westchester has a fair share of them. The best way to deal with invasives is to remove them and replace them with vigorous and dense sustainable planting.

The landscaping tradition

Unfortunately most landscapers are not familiar with the concept “right plant, right place”. The landscaping business today is an industry that has little connection with our environment. We as homeowners have a responsibility to be the stewards of our own land, and that may mean directing your landscaper to adopt sustainable, healthy, landscaping practices.

More Tips About Planting Wisely:

Coming soon


Click here for more tips on having a Healthy Yard and follow our Healthy Yards Facebook Page.

Use Better Equipment – Go Electric

There are many serious environmental and health consequences related to gas-fueled  landscaping equipment. Lawn care alone accounts for 10 percent of the air pollution in our country and is expected by 2020, to create more ozone pollution than all the passenger cars in this country. There’s a reason for that: Regulations on car exhaust have gotten tighter and tighter over the years, substantially reducing their ozone-damaging emissions. At the same time, while there have been some controls on the smaller gas engines, there haven’t been enough. Most damaging and polluting among the landscaping tools is the gas-fuelled leaf blower.

  • In one hour a GLB emits more pollution  than 40 cars idling  
  • The noise and moving air from GLB’s disturbs nesting and breeding birds and other wildlife
  • GLBs have a serious impact on neighborhood peace and quiet
  • GLBs disturb and kill beneficial micro organisms in the soil
  • GLBs pollution and noise impacts worker’s lungs and general health
  • GLBs stir up pollutants such as salt, lead, arsenic, mercury, heavy metals, pesticides, fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, rodenticides, dirt, ash, mold spores and fecal matter. Approximately five pounds of particulate matter per leaf blower per hour are blown into the air and can take hours and even days to settle in hot, humid weather. These particulates in the air can aggravate allergies and asthma and exacerbate pulmonary issues, such as bronchitis.

It’s is necessary to look for healthier ways to maintain our landscapes.

First of all, for our lawns, we recommend switching from blowing to mulching. There is no need to blow the leaves from garden beds either, so please limit the use of the leafblower to your hardscapes; driveways and patio’s.

Secondly, we have to switch from gas to electric powered machines. Electric lawn equipment has greatly improved and causes substantially less pollution and noise. So if you are considering buying engine-equipment for your yard look for an electric alternative.

Click here to see our Leaf Blower Informational Brochure 

Spanish version coming soon.

More About Electric Yard Equipment and the Hazards of Gas Leaf Blowers:

Quiet Communities dedicated to protecting our health, environment, and quality of life from the excessive use of industrial outdoor maintenance equipment
American Green Zone Alliance – working to help communities to adopt zero-emission landscape maintenance strategies.

Click here for more tips on having a Healthy Yard and follow our Healthy Yards Facebook Page.

Love Leaves

Who doesn’t love leaves?

We all appreciate the beautiful colors in the fall, and the environment welcomes leaves as a protective and nutrient layer for its plants and wildlife. Fallen leaves shelter plant roots from excessive heat and cold, and once they decompose, they keep the soil healthy.


So why do we spend millions of hours and millions of gallons of diesel and gasoline to get rid of those leaves, while there is plenty of evidence that leaf blowers are:

  • extremely polluting and account for a significant percentage of the total air pollution.
  • disturb nesting and breeding of birds, microorganisms and other wildlife.
  • disturb neighborhood peace and quiet.
  • stir up pollutants such as salt, lead, arsenic, mercury, heavy metals, pesticides, fertilizers, dirt, ash, fungus and mold spores and fecal matter.
  • blow particulates in the air that aggravate allergies and asthma and exacerbate pulmonary issues, such as bronchitis.

It’s true that the turf grasses used for lawns might be smothered by excess leaves, but it’s much better to mow right over them to create mulch than to blow them away. The resulting shredded leaves will settle into the grass providing nutrients and reducing the need for fertilizers, weed killers and insecticides.

So, please, stop using leaf blowers in your yard, and ask your landscaper to do so as well. Inquire if they are familiar with the leaf mulching practice, and if not, please direct them to: the Leave Leaves Alone Website.

If you prefer to use a leaf blower for your driveway, terrace or other hardscapes elements, please consider using an electric model. Electric leaf blowers are cleaner and quieter. Better still, clear up your paved areas with a broom.

More About Leaves and Leaf Mulching:

Leave Leaves Alone

Details on the Hazards of Gas Leaf Blowers

EPA Website on Particle Pollution

Click here for more tips on having a Healthy Yard and follow our Healthy Yards Facebook Page.

Avoid Pesticides

If we buy toxins to control “pests” in our gardens, is it any wonder that they do their job and kill plants and beneficial insects?

Pesticides and herbicides, both conventional AND organic, work so well that in the last 20 years the worldwide bee population has declined by over 40% and the butterfly population by 60%. Bird populations that rely on these pollinators to feed their young, and humans who depend on the same pollinators to grow our food, are impacted as well.

Pesticides are linked to these devastating declines, as well as to human cancers, hormone imbalances and neurological impairments. Yet, American homeowners purchase more than  one billion pounds of pesticides every year. This, combined with the overuse of herbicides (including the very toxic glyphosate – marketed as RoundUp) have caused our lawns to become the biggest, most toxic, ‘crop’ in the USA.

Most homeowners are not aware that more than 90% of a pesticide application does not reach its actual target, but ends up in our waterways, killing other organisms and harming ourselves.

Pesticide warning sign on a park lawn.

Pesticides create a deadly cycle by doing exactly the opposite of what they were intended to do: promote the growth of pests by eliminating their natural predators.

There is plentiful evidence of the negative impacts to humans and their pets of pesticides and herbicides. While many countries have drastically limited or banned the use of these harmful pesticides, the US government is loosening its safety requirements, and postponing consideration of the possible dangers of these chemicals.

If we want to keep these poisons out of plants, our air, soil and water — and ourselves —  the restraint must begin at home.

A healthy yard is a yard without pesticides. There are many beautiful yards in our area that prove that pesticide-free yards are perfectly possible, and are not difficult to achieve.

More About Pesticides and Alternatives:

Beneficial Insects from Cornell Entomology Dept.

Weed without chemicals, use steam!

10 Reasons to Ditch your Lawn and Garden Chemicals, by NOFA

Beyond Pesticides has a great website on the topic!


Click here for more tips on having a Healthy Yard and follow our Healthy Yards Facebook Page.

Invite Pollinators

The way we treat our yards can be detrimental to the environment and the well-being of wildlife, as well as our families and pets. The decline of species, and especially the drastic decrease of insects and pollinators, should be a concern for everyone.

The good news is that our yards can also lead the way to the restoration of our environment. All we have to do is……less.


  • Bumble bees climb over bee balm flowers at the Project Native seed bank field, Tuesday, August 2, 2016. Ben Garver — The Berkshire Eagle |

    Don’t mow too often

  • Don’t use leaf blowers
  • Consider your lawn as an area rug, rather than a wall-to-wall carpet, with enough vegetative growth around it for animals and pollinators to shelter and nest.
  • Don’t clean all the dead branches and leaves. These provide valuable habitat for pollinators.
  • And, most important: don’t use toxins. Whatever sales literature tells you, there is NO “safe” pesticide that targets a single species.

Pollinators are insects, bees and butterflies that bring pollen from one plant to another, enabling the growth of fruit and further propagating the plant. Without pollinators we would have very little fruit and vegetables to harvest. Without pollinators we lose songbirds and other wildlife that depend on pollinators as their food source. A healthy yard needs pollinators.

Inviting pollinators in your yard is easy. We have a list with beautiful, easy and deer resistant plants that attract bees and butterflies. If you plant them, the pollinators will come.

Pollinators and other beneficial insects keep pests in check. If you use insecticides you will harm pollinators and beneficial insects, which will then cause pests to grow and spread. Insecticides often create a cycle  in which the toxins, by eliminating natural predators, do exactly the opposite of what they were meant to do: promote pests. In addition, pesticides can be harmful to your family and pets.

More Ways to Invite Pollinators to Your Yard:

Selecting Plants for Pollinators

Great plant for pollinators in the Northeast


Click here for more tips on having a Healthy Yard and follow our Healthy Yards Facebook Page.

Energized Homeowners Spread the Word

Calling all Energized Homeowners!

Become Energize Bedford ambassadors by agreeing to any and all of the easy outreach methods below:

  • Yes! I will send out an email to 2-4 of my friends about my Energize Bedford (We’ll give you a sample email.)


  • Yes! I will post a blurb on my social media about my Energize Bedford (We’ll give you a sample social media post and a graphic to share.)


  • Yes! I will put up an Energize Bedford Lawn Sign that says “Ask me about my Warm Home & Hot Savings” and be willing to explain my energy efficiency assessment and upgrades when people ask me. (We’ll give you the lawn sign and a fact sheet.)


  • Yes, I will attend your “Warm Homes/Hot Savings” Launch Event at the Bedford Hills Train station on Thursday, October 5 at 7pm. (We’re having craft beer, snacks, entertainment, and info about Energize Bedford. Having Energized homeowners like you there will let other homeowners ask you questions in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. (We will make it fun!)


  • And yes! I’ll invite a few of my friends who have not yet Energized to come to the October 5th event!




  • Yes! I will send you a photo of my Energized home! (And we would love to have you and your family in the photo!)


Energized Homeowner Form

If you checked any of the above, thank you! We will follow up with materials for you.

Energize Bedford is a non-profit partner of Bedford 2020 and Town of Bedford.

A Letter to Our Neighbors

Ellen Rouse Conrad
Sarah Douglis
Olivia H. Farr
Mary Beth Kass
Peter Kuniholm
Stuart Marwell
Vickie Morris
Rabbi Jason Nevarez
Caroline Niemczyk
Richard Ottinger
Veronique Pittman
Lee V. Roberts
Karen Sabath
Karen Simons
Mark Thielking
Jim Wood
Lauren Brois
Kirtley Cameron
Jayni Chase
Jim Diamond
Janet Harckham
Mimi Adams Lines
Drew Patrick

Email; 914-620-2411
PO Box 812, Bedford Hills 10507


Fall 2017

Dear Neighbor:

Seven years ago, our community created Bedford 2020 to achieve big climate action goals. And together we have! We have moved thousands to reduce waste, increase efficiency, take on big green solutions, and address climate change. Click here to see our 2017 Progress Report.

But we need to do more. Communities, like ours, that enact measures, change systems, and transform behavior will ultimately shape the way our world will face or deny climate change.

Bedford 2020 has ambitious goals for the year ahead. Engaging the entire community in action and climate solutions, we will:

  • Further reduce greenhouse gas emissions through home energy efficiency, our Town’s 100% renewable energy program, electric vehicle solutions, and solar energy opportunities. 
  • Launch a Planet and Plate campaign to reduce carbon emissions by encouraging plant-based and local eating.
  • Drive our community towards zero waste by increasing Community Compost, Single Stream Recycling, and use of our Take It or Leave It Shed.
  • Engage the next generation of environmental leaders and educate hundreds of students through our Greenlight Award Competition.
  • Host a major Summit February 3rd to engage community members, leaders and innovators in today’s most impactful climate solutions.

We can’t do this alone. We are asking for your generous support to redouble our efforts for a super-charged year ahead. Please consider making a donation to our Annual Appeal by mail or at online today.

We thank you for your support at any level as we lead our community, and beyond, in working to leave our children, grandchildren, and generations to come with a clean, healthy planet.


Ellen Rouse Conrad, Olivia Farr, and Mary Beth Kass, Co-Founders

Go Green with Bedford 2020!

Join us for an open forum to learn more about our town’s environmental movement!

WHEN: September 27, 2017, from 6 to 7pm

WHERE: Bedford Hills Community House, 74 Main St., Bedford Hills

KIDS: Babysitters will do a craft with kids while parents participate in the workshop.

RSVP: Contact us via email or call Ellen Calves at 914-620-2411.

Let’s Compost, Bedford!

Sign up for Community Compost and buy your bins at the Bedford 2020 office in Katonah. Click here for more information and to sign up after you watch our “how to” video!

Community Compost – Town of Bedford from Bedford 2020 on Vimeo.

Seeking Volunteers for Go Meatless! Effort

The Bedford 2020 Food and Agriculture Task Force will launch a campaign to encourage people to eat less meat to reduce their carbon footprint between Feb. 5 and May 21, 2018.

Volunteers will help get the entire community involved.

We are looking for volunteers for the following:

  • Committee Members who will help with online email newsletters and social media posts, curate recipes, plan events, do outreach to community partners, and collect and manage data.
  • Participants who will elect to give up eating meat one day a week between Feb. 5 and May 21, 2018, and report on their participation.

If you are interested in being on the committee or being part of the group, please fill out the form below and we will be in touch. Thank you.

Meatless Monday
If you click yes, we will contact you when the pilot is ready to launch to confirm that you want to participate.
If you check yes, we will contact you about coming to a committee meeting.