Best for the Garden: SunLawn, Vermont Woods, High Country Gardens

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Hot house flowers: Pre-Planned Strip Garden

Want a low-water strip garden that can take the heat? High Country Gardens’ Inferno Strip Pre-Planned Garden is a collection of tough, low-growing perennials that need minimal water and thrive in sun-scorched areas. The garden’s variety of species, such as agastache, penstemon, dianthus and artemesia, blossom in shades of purple, pink and red.

"High Country Gardens is committed to the principles of xeriscaping," spokesperson Randy Schultz says. And the company practices what it preaches. "At its Santa Fe headquarters, High Country boasts a state-of-the-art rainwater-harvesting system that provides irrigation water for the plants the company raises and sells," Schultz says.

Inferno Strip Garden: $145. (800) 925-9387

Make a reel difference: Reel Mower

If you prefer the scent of fresh-cut grass to mower exhaust, make the switch to a reel mower by Sunlawn. The pollution- and carbon-emissions reduction will be enormous.

"When you replace your gas mower with a push model, it’s like permanently taking 73 cars off the road," says Sunlawn’s Gretchen Heine. "Reel mowers are kid-, pet-, earth- and neighbor-friendly because they’re clean and quiet."

For each Sunlawn mower purchased at participating retailers, the company dedicates a percentage of proceeds to a tree-planting carbon-offset program. The company also makes
rechargeable, battery-powered lawn trimmers.

Sunlawn MM-2 push mower (25 pounds, 16-inch cutting swath) for all thick, turf grass: $200. (970) 493-5284 

Raise your garden right: Raised-Bed Kit

If you dig the idea of raised beds for your veggies or flowers but don’t know what to frame them with, consider recycled milk jugs. Durable Plastic Design uses high-density polyethylene (HDPE)—mostly from recycled milk bottles—to make Orcaboard plastic lumber. "It’s nontoxic, maintenance-free and totally inert, and it doesn’t offgas," says co-owner Marc Lagen. "It also reduces waste going into landfills." Orcaboard isn’t treated with chemicals, and the plastic "timbers" come with a 50-year warranty.

Orcaboard raised-bed kits come in several colors and sizes. Most popular is the 4-by-8-foot double-high (11 inches deep): $197. (425) 883-2570

Every drop counts: Water Meter

If you’ve ever wondered how much water you use on your garden, it’s time to take the meter into your own hands. The WaterWatch Garden and Outdoor Meter screws directly onto the end of your hose to help you monitor usage by the gallon. You also can attach the sprinkler to it.

"Awareness is the first step toward permanent change in behavior," WaterWatch owner Steven J. Miller says. "Our products provide real-time, instantaneous, visual feedback regarding water amounts." The device also lets you measure the amount of water you put into buckets or RV and boat tanks.

WaterWatch Garden and Outdoor Meter: $10. (866) 426-9282

Wooden you like to relax? Adirondack Chair

Vermont Woods’ rustic Adirondack chair is made from sustainably harvested wood from Bolivia. "The dense, tropical wood for this furniture comes from a well-managed forest that’s certified by the independent, international nonprofit Forest Stewardship Council," Vermont Woods co-founder Peggy Farabaugh says. "Indigenous artisans are employed to make the furniture, and local communities participate in forest sustainability training and education initiatives. It’s an opportunity for Bolivians to make a living from their forests without destroying them."

The company also sells a wide variety of furnishings handcrafted from reclaimed wood. Adirondack Chair: $350; footrest: $150; table: $95. (888) 390-5571