Sandy Naples of Pine Hill Village Gardens in Traverse City and Pine Hill Nursery in Kewadin, has been talking sustainable landscaping since she went into the business 31 years ago with her husband, Ralph, and sister-in-law Jeanine Rubert. Here’s her current take on how to be a truly green thumb.

How did you get interested in sustainable landscaping?It’s common sense. If the package says “Keep out of reach of children” or “Keep out of reach of pets”–these aren’t the kind of things you want around your home, or around our lakes. That’s why we moved up here–for our pristine lakes.

Do you sell only green products?We have always carried both kinds. But we really try to ask people, “Where are you going to use this?” If they want to use a high-nitrogen fertilizer on a lawn overlooking a lake that’s where [into the lake] it’s going to go. We would suggest a zero phosphorous fertilizer.

Do you have a favorite green lawn product? I’d say horticultural vinegar. It’s a high-concentrate vinegar that is a natural way to get rid of weeds. It’s so much safer than Roundup.

Do you have a nontoxic way of keeping dandelions out of the yard? When the snow melts, broadcast corn gluten over your yard–it’s a natural pre-emergent herbicide for seeds. If dandelions do come up, squirt them with horticultural vinegar.

What’s the greenest landscaping thing I can do right now? Plant a tree. Trees do a great job filtering runoff, they are natural air conditioners and they give oxygen. We need to plant more trees.

I want to plant a native tree, what do you recommend? The serviceberry is a wonderful native tree. It flowers in the spring, has beautiful fall color and has berries for the birds.

Contact Sandy at Pine Hill Village Gardens, Traverse City 231-599-2824,