A humble home garden may not seem like much in the big scheme of all things environmental, but making just a few small changes to your private green space can have an impact far wider than you’d imagine. From providing precious wildlife habitats to improving air quality, here are 10 ways to be more eco-friendly when you’re gardening.
Plant Some Trees
It’s a myth that you need lots of space in your garden to plant trees. These days, dwarf varieties of just about everything is easily available, meaning that even the smallest garden can enjoy the many benefits that trees bring. These benefits aren’t to be ignored – trees attract wildlife, improve air quality, store carbon, conserve soil and water, and provide protection from the wind and bad weather.
Favour Native Plants
While exotic shrubs and flowers do hold a fascinating appeal, try to fill your garden with as many native plants as possible. Not only are they much easier to look after, but these are the plants that provide vital food and shelter for all of the wildlife around you. If you really want to make a difference, look into native heritage plant varieties that are dying out. You can then try to revive the species in your own garden, bringing a little piece of natural history back to life.
Grow Some Food
No matter its size, your garden has the potential to feed you for a large portion of the year, so make the most of that. Each time you harvest a crop from your garden, you’ll be reducing your overall carbon footprint – it doesn’t get much better than zero food miles! Plus, food that you grow yourself always tastes better and contains more nutrients too. You can even stick with the native theme when planting your edible crops – think potatoes, cabbages, beans, peas, apples, and more!
Install a Green Roof on Your Garden Sheds
Whether you have a small garden shed for storing your tools, an elegant summer house shed, or a large children’s playhouse, consider installing a green roof. Thanks to the way in which they insulate, reduce water run-off, increase biodiversity, and improve air quality, they’re becoming increasingly popular. So long as your garden shed is strong enough to hold the extra weight, a green roof is easy to fit, and will make your shed look all-the-more attractive!
Learn How to Compost
If you’re guilty of throwing organic waste in the bin, and then purchasing plastic bags of compost, learning a little about composting is a great way to get more eco-friendly in your garden, while also saving money. In a way, composting is an art. You can create usable compost from organic waste in just a few months if you spend some time understanding how the process works. On the other hand, you could also just dump kitchen scraps, plant cuttings, and cardboard/paper into a big heap. Turn this once in a while and your compost should be good to go in a year or so.
Yes, those slugs and aphids can be a nuisance, but there are now proven organic methods for dealing with just about every garden pest you could encounter. Swapping the chemicals for natural alternatives will not only benefit the wildlife, but it’ll also be better for your own health, especially if you’re growing food crops. Over time, you’ll notice that your all-natural garden will thrive in a way that your chemical-laden plants never used to, and there’ll also be less maintenance needed as well.
Use Homemade Fertilisers
There are plenty of organic fertilizers out there, but homemade alternatives can be just as effective. Fermenting nettles or comfrey in a container of water for a few days creates a highly potent (albeit smelly) plant food. Many gardeners grow comfrey solely for this reason, although the flowers are great for attracting beneficial insects too.
Create Some Wildlife Shelters
While trees and native plants are great for sheltering wildlife, you can take this a step further by creating a few man-made hideouts. Bug hotels for trees, bird boxes that attach to garden sheds, and winter hedgehog houses are so easy to make, and it won’t be long before the local wildlife starts moving in. Place these shelters strategically around your garden so that the wildlife you’re attracting is able to feast on any pests that are feeding on your plants.
Leave a Part of Your Lawn Uncut
Pollinators love long grass. Many beneficial insects also live in it, meaning that each time you mow your lawn, you’re not only removing their habitat, but you’re also likely taking some lives. It’s fair enough to want your lawn to look tidy, but how about dedicating an uncut portion of it to the pollinators around you? Whether you mow around a particular patch or you leave the majority of your lawn uncut but with a mowed path meandering through it, you’ll soon notice your garden buzzing with more life than ever.
Even if you do make copious amounts of your own compost, you may still need to buy some in from time to time. When you do, always go for peat-free mixes. Peat is extremely unsustainable. Yes, it regenerates, but a damaged peat bog can take more than 100 years to grow. Peat is currently being used faster than it can be made because the appeal of a sterile, sponge-like growing material is simply too much for many to resist. Although the peat-free products from just a few years ago really aren’t up to much, things have evolved since then. Wood fiber, coco coir, and bark are all great substitutes, while also being more eco-friendly.
If you’ve been trying to reduce the negative impact that you’ve been having on the environment, then your garden is a great place to start. Implementing just a few small changes is enough to make a big difference, not only when it comes to local wildlife, but also to the environment around you.