In recent years people have become more and more concerned with the environment, both locally and globally, and this concern is something that is inevitably going to increase as time goes on.
There are of many ways for you to live in a way that is as environmentally friendly as possible in all aspects of life, for example taking the bus instead of driving, walking instead of taking the bus and recycling household waste wherever possible. Of course some things are much easier to do than others and sometimes it just isn't possible to do the most environmentally friendly option; however one way in which all of us can help out our planet a little bit is to create an eco friendly garden.
Whether you have a large garden out in the countryside or just a small space in the middle of a city there is always something that you can do, no matter how big or small that thing may be it will contribute towards helping the environment.
So if you want to completely turn your garden into an eco friendly haven or even if you just want a few tips on how to garden in an eco friendly way then hopefully this guide will help you!
The first thing to keep in mind is natural; avoiding synthetic and chemical products is one of the best things you can do for your garden and the flora and fauna in it:
- It is no secret that chemical fertilizers are not particularly favoured by lovers of nature; plants managed to grow before it was invented so surely they don’t need it now?! That’s not to say you can’t use fertilizers to help give your plants a boost, but use natural alternatives. There are many natural products which you can add to your garden to boost plant growth such as bone meal, cottonseed meal, fish emulsions and composted manure; most of which can be bought from your local garden centre or gardening shop.
- We all know that weeds are a nuisance and can make your garden space look unsightly, so it is no wonder that we all want to get rid of them. Just like with fertilizers, the majority of products that you can buy are synthetic and the chemicals in them are not only unhealthy but they can harm plants that you do not want to kill and reduce the nutrients in the soil. There are several natural products that can act as herbicides including boiling water, rock salt and vinegar, all of which will kill the unwanted weeds in a matter of days. Another option is smothering, it’s simple; if you cover the weeds and prevent them from getting any sunlight then they can’t grow!
- Creating your own compost heap is a fantastic way of tackling two problems, you are able to recycle waste as well as add nutrients to your soil. Recycling is an obvious way of being environmentally friendly and by creating a compost heap with your food and other organic waste you can recycle these products into your own garden, to benefit you. Compost is (organic) waste that has decomposed, when this is mixed into soil it adds nutrients which encourages and improves plant growth. Similar to this is mulch, mulch is materials such as decaying leaves, peat and compost that is used to cover the ground around plants to enrich the soil and insulate it.
It is important to think about wildlife in your garden, both the wildlife that you do want in it and the wildlife that you don’t; firstly let’s think about those creatures that aren't welcome in our gardens.
- Pests are called pests for a reason, some can seem impossible to get rid of and some can keep returning so it is no wonder that the majority of us resort to using pesticides. If you do opt for these then there is one thing that you must take into consideration, many pesticides don’t just kill the pests that you are trying to kill so make sure that you are using a pesticide that specifically targets the pest you want to kill and no others.
- There are natural alternatives that can be used for some pests which are more environmentally friendly. For example you can set up sticky yellow sheets to catch flying insects or you can lay beer or fruit traps for slugs.
- Birds can be a fantastic way of catching pests as they eat many of them such as slugs and caterpillars. Adding a bird feeder or a bird box to your garden will welcome birds, therefore encouraging them to spend more time in your garden and as a result eat more pests!
Although we work hard to prevent and get rid of a lot of unwanted weeds and wildlife, in order to create an eco friendly garden, flora and fauna are absolutely vital.
- Foreign plants and flowers may be beautiful but they aren't necessarily best for the ecosystem. Not only can they introduce pests and diseases but they aren't naturally suited to the environment and therefore are likely to need more water, more fertilizer and all in all more care. By planting native plants and flowers that are perfectly suited to the natural environment they will require less care and more importantly will improve the local ecosystem as they will create habitats for wildlife.
- Planting trees is extremely eco friendly and beneficial for the local environment for two reasons; they improve air quality and they provide a natural habitat for local wildlife.
- Depending on the size of your garden, having a vegetable patch can be beneficial for your garden and for you. Growing your own vegetables can save you money, make you more self sufficient and maybe encourage you to eat more greens! Even better certain plants grow well together as they help each other in different ways, for example parsley repels asparagus beetles so is perfect for planting next to asparagus.
Water plays a critical role in any garden so if you want to be as eco friendly as possible then you should be as careful as you can be with it.
- Conserving water is easy and practically free, simply set up a water butt that will collect rain water; you can then use this water for watering your garden instead of using water from a hose. This will save you money as it means that you are using less water from your house and therefore paying for less!
- Installing drainpipes that transport water from your home’s downspouts down to your garden is another excellent way of reusing rainwater and reducing the need for using water from your home.
- There are also several types of watering solutions that are more efficient than a regular hose for example a drip line or a soaker hose, these target the roots of plants and therefore there is less wastage. Again this means that less water is needed and you will therefore save money.
To keep your garden neat and tidy you will need different tools and equipment, most of these will just be hand tools that don’t require power, however some gardening equipment such as lawn mowers and hedge trimmers will need a power supply; if you can’t avoid using powered tools then it is important that you stay away from gas powered tools and only use electric.
Of course gardens don’t just have plants in them, we all like to decorate our gardens and make them suitable for us to spend time in. One thing that many of us like to add to our gardens is lighting, this makes the garden look more attractive in the evenings and allows us to spend more time outside during the warm summer nights. If you want to add lighting to your garden but want to keep with the eco friendly theme then solar powered garden lights are the way to do it, these are extremely energy efficient as they require no power source other than sunlight, so they are not harmful to the environment and they save you money.
In conclusion, there are many things you can do to ensure that your garden is eco friendly as well as a place that you can enjoy. Whether you are starting from scratch or just want to make a few changes, we hope that this guide will help you to create an eco friendly haven that will benefit both you and the environment!