The Best Eco-friendly Plants to Grow in Your Garden

When it comes to helping the environment, taking an environmentally friendly approach to what you plant can have a massive impact.

As we discussed in our previous post, creating and maintaining a sustainable garden is a great way to make a difference environmentally. But a sustainable garden (complete with sustainable garden building) should be complemented with sustainable planting – and that’s what we’re here to talk to you about today!

We’ll be running through some of the most eco-friendly things you can (and should) be planting in your garden. These species won’t just help the planet as a whole, they’ll allow your garden and the local wildlife to thrive too. You’ll be amazed at just how much of a difference you can make with what you plant!

So keep scrolling for the best tips on eco-friendly planting and growing!

Sprigs of purple lavendar in a field
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Climbers For Climate

If you’re looking for a plant that will be great for the environment and for your home, then climbers are the way to go!

“Climbers” are simply any plant that loves to climb up a support beam or surface. Walls, posts, trees – you name it, they’ll climb up it. Climbers usually grow fast, and some varieties stay green and leafy all year round. And because they grow up, rather than out, they won’t take up that much space in your garden – while still making it look great!

More importantly, they’re fantastic for the environment. Especially when grown up the sides of your house.

What makes climbers so great?

On their own, climbers provide a great service to the environment. All varieties of climbers grow quickly and produce a lot of leaves, which are great at sucking up pollution and carbon dioxide and turning it into oxygen.

Their flowers also attract lots of wildlife: their flowers help bees and butterflies (more on them later), their fruit helps birds, and their leaves help insects and small critters. When grown fully, they make their own ecosystems.

But when they’re grown up the side of a house or building, they perform another magical function: they insulate it!

Arms of ivy with bright green leaves climbing up a red wall
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That’s right, climbers provide fantastic insulating properties when grown up the side of your home. When it is hot outside, the leaves of the climber will absorb the light and heat and prevent it from transferring it outside. Equally, when it it cold, the leaves provide a physical layer of protection that keeps the heat inside the building

If your house is too cold in winter and too warm in summer, then why not consider growing a climber up one or two walls (or even more if you’re really into it!). As for which ones you should grow, we’ve got you covered.

  • Ivy is a classic but fantastic choice. It grows naturally in the UK, meaning it can withstand the weather year-round, and provides everything you and local wildlife needs when it comes to leaves, fruit, and so on. It flowers in late summer/early autumn with fantastic white flowers.
  • Wisteria has beauty on its side. Who doesn’t love the sight of a wisteria plant drooping down a wall or hanging from a support? Their lilac flowers look amazing, and they’re loved by insects too. 
  • Feeling exotic? Then why not grow a Virginia Creeper? These leafy vines grow quickly up walls and produce berries during the autumn. They don’t flower, but when autumn comes around their leaves turn a beautiful bold crimson.

There are other climbers you can look into, such as Clematis or Honeysuckle. Regardless of which one you choose to grow, you’ll see the benefits of climbers in no time at all – and the environment will too!

Viriginia Creeper Leaves turning red on a dull brick wall
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Companion Planting

The method of companion planting is a technique of organic planting that reduces pests and weeds while helping your species grow and keeping the soil healthy.

Companion plants are specific species that, when planted in conjunction with other species or just in your garden in general, have great benefits for your planting beds and for the environment. Let’s have a look at some effective companion plants and combinations!

Bright green mint plant growing in a muddy bed
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Mint, fruit, and veg

Don’t worry, this isn’t a recipe! We don’t recommend putting these three things together on a plate, but we do recommend planting them together.

Planting Mint with certain vegetables, such as Carrots, Onions, Garlic, or Cabbages, and fruits such as Tomatoes, is a great way to reduce the pests that prey on these varieties. 

This is because the scent of the mint overpowers the smell of fruit and veg, confusing and deterring Flea Beetles from your plants. This is a great way to deter pests without using harmful insecticides that do lasting harm to the environment. Just be careful of how fast mint grows!

Fennel

Planting and leaving fennel to flower is one of the easier ways to reduce the number of dangerous aphids in your garden. The colourful yellow flowers that Fennel produces attract hoverflies, a natural predator of aphids. Simply let them flowers and the hoverflies will swarm in and take care of those aphids without you needing to use any chemicals.

However, Fennel can swamp the growth of other plants, so if you do plant it keep it in a separate plot!

Pale pink rose in a sunny forest
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Garlic and roses

An age-old combination, roses and garlic are perfect partners in the garden.

Garlic or garlic chives repel both aphids and fungal diseases from Roses, but they also enhance the general health of your roses too. On top of this, it is said that roses smell more powerful when planted near garlic! The flowers of garlic chives look great next to roses too, so there’s really no reason not to combine the two!

Radishes and spinach

Plant radishes and spinach together to stop your spinach leaves from being eaten by someone other than you!

The leaves of Radishes will attract leafminers, drawing them away from the leafy Spinach around them. The radishes don’t mind, though. They can grow happily underground even while their leaves are being eaten!

Bright plant beds of varied wildflowers and plants
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Extra tips

There are loads more combinations and companion pairings out there, but we’ve got some general companion tips that should help you reduce the number of harmful pests in your garden.

  • Avoid creating “monocultures”. A monoculture is where the same plant is grown in big beds together by themselves. Planting like this makes it very easy for pests to find and feast upon their preferred plant. Mix it up instead!
  • Create shaded areas within your planting beds by adding tall plants such as peas or sweetcorn. These tall varieties provide shade for crops that can “bolt”

With a little bit of companion planting, you can protect your plants from loads of threats without harming the environment. And, in some cases, you’ll get better fruit and flowers than you otherwise would!

Beautiful butterfly resting on a pink flower
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Pollinate the Planet

If you’re looking to grow something that will give long-lasting benefits to local wildlife and the environment as a whole, then plant some pollenisers!

Pollinators, insects that collect and spread pollen such as bees and butterflies, are in decline across the world. A dramatic decline in the population of pollinators could have dramatic and disastrous effects that include threatening global ecosystems and our food supply and production.

One way we can start fixing this decline is to plant pollen-producing plants: pollenisers! The good news is that there are loads of varieties of them to choose from that will make your garden look great while helping those valuable bees!

Pollen-planting

If you’re looking for good pollenisors for the UK climate, you won’t have to look far. In fact, there are a range of plants for all times of the flowering year! To provide a reliable and consistent habitat for bees and butterflies alike, try to have at least one plant for each part of the season.

  • For spring and early-summer pollenisors, English Bluebells are a popular and attractive choice. But you can also opt for Primroses, Sweet Violets, or even Wood Anemones!
  • For the middle of summer, Lavender is a natural choice. If you want to mix things up, look into Verbena, Heather, or Buddleia.
  • Even at the end of summer pollinators will be in search of flowers to pollinate. Ivy is one we’ve already mentioned in this post, but you could go for French Marigolds, Sunflowers, or Red Valerian.

Planting these pollen-producing plants in your garden is an easy and simple way to create a habitat for pollinators. In a world where many of them now struggle to find places to pollinate, you’ll be giving them the best helping hand possible!

Tall golden sunflowers in front of a row of houses
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Planting for The Future

Many of these plant species are easy to grow and easily accessible in the UK. This is great simply because it means you can plant up your gardens with them without having to endure trouble getting ahold of them. Planting sustainably is straightforward and simple!

If you enjoyed this and want to read more of our sustainability-focused content, follow this link. 

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