We will be posting a series of blogs on sustainable gardening. In this blog let’s talk about how to design, use and work in our gardens in a sustainable way.
Generally, if we design our garden with sustainability in mind we can be as eco-friendly as possible. Points to consider include what plants you want to grow, and where they need to be planted, according to their needs; what materials to use in various areas of the garden, including compost, pest control, seating etc.
Recycled food and natural waste are great to compost and use for fertilising your garden. Don’t get rid of dead leaves, flower heads or grass clippings – compost them instead and create your own organic fertiliser.
If you have a large garden, you could perhaps work with local schools, parks or shops to collect their compostable waste as well.
All the plants, flowers & vegetables will produce seeds. By collecting these seeds and storing them you can then use them to re-plant your favourites the next year. Easy options are tomatoes, peas & beans. This of course will save you money and is eco-friendly as there will be no additional delivery or packaging.
We touched on this in our previous blog – Sustainable Gardening – Conserve Water – but there are multiple reasons to cultivate native plants. Because they are already adapted to the climate they are native to it makes them easier to grow and sustain. They will need less time and attention and will help preserve native birds and insects which are reliant on them.
If you want a sustainable and eco-friendly garden, stay away from anything that is not natural when considering pest and weed control. The greenest way to control weeds is to pull them out! It is also a great alternative workout to visiting the gym!
Rather than using sprays on pests, consider using natural insects and birds. Ladybirds are a great friend to the gardener in the control of aphids – aphids are one of their favourite meals! Hang a bird feeder close to your roses to attract the birds – they will also eat the greenfly. If you are not sure what insects can help your particular problem, ask an expert or research online.
Using natural mulch, such as old hay, pine straw or hardwood bark mulch brings many benefits to the garden. Not only can it reduce maintenance by keeping the weeds down, it also helps to prevent soil drying out, adds nutrients & can improve the look of the garden.
What type of mulch is best is dependent on what you are growing, and the type of soil you have, but any mulch used twice a year will bring some great benefits.
If you have a small lawn the obvious “green” mower choice would be a manual option. However with a larger green patch you can consider an electric version – especially if you are generating your own sustainable power with solar panels or wind turbines.
Petrol mowers are perhaps a necessity in much larger gardens, but the Environmental Protection Agency states that mowing the lawn with a gas-powered mower causes air pollution equivalent to driving a car for 45 miles, and that gas-powered mowers send over 1,800 times the hydrocarbons into the atmosphere, compared to battery-powered mowers.
Using an automatic irrigation system for the lawn ensures that there is the correct amount of water with no wastage or excess use. Lawns are a perfect example of where you can save on watering if you so wish. Whilst a “dead looking” lawn is not as attractive as lush green grass, lawns are remarkably resilient and will usually recover well. And if you choose to water the lawn less, you will reduce the need for mowing at the same time.
We are all aware of the necessity of trees to our atmosphere, but there are other benefits that trees can bring to your garden. They can bring natural shade to your garden and are so very beautiful. Planting trees in your garden needs careful thought, however. Consider the location in relation to your property and other buildings as well as your planting.
General Sustainable Actions
Move away from plastic wherever possible – using wooden plant tags, discarded branches as plant supports, wooden fences and biodegradable seed pots. Repurpose plastic containers from the house if you can’t recycle them.
Use materials that are long lasting wherever possible. Composite deck boards made from 100% recycled wood and plastic are a great example for not only decking, but also for planters.
Relax and Enjoy!
Now that you have your beautiful, eco-friendly, sustainable garden you need to be able to relax in it and enjoy the fruits of all your hard work.
Choose environmentally friendly garden furniture. There are many options which use either highly sustainable materials or recycled materials. A great example for your patio is all-weather Rattan furniture which is made using recycled polyethylene and is hard-wearing, UV and water resistant and comfortable to boot!
Finally, we can’t talk about sustainability and environmentally friendly options for the garden without mentioning garden watering and irrigation systems. These systems provide a sustainable way of ensuring your garden benefits from the correct watering for all areas of your garden.