Being environmentally aware is something that can take a lot of time and energy. This is in part because you need to adopt such practices in every part of your life if they are to make a difference. It’s no use being eco-friendly in the workplace, and not in the home. One area where it is particularly easy - and rewarding - to focus on being green is in the garden. There are great joys to keeping a garden, whether you are doing so just for the fun of it, or to grow a supply of fruit and veg for personal use. It can be even more enjoyable if you are approaching your garden in a green manner, which is what we are going to look at here. This blog post will provide you with an introduction to eco-friendly gardening: something which you should find is both straightforward and enormously pleasurable.
Your Plant Choice
One of the first things you will need to think about is what plants you are going to grow. That will depend on a lot of factors. You will, for instance, be keen to grow plants which are either useful in some way, or which you happen to find pretty. Then there are the plants which you just have a good feeling about, and you don’t know why. If you want to be eco-friendly in the garden, your choices of plant will be significantly restricted. That being said, you should still be able to grow plenty, but you will have to be careful about what plants you do go for. So what does it mean to choose eco-friendly plants?
Arguably, the most important thing is that you don’t buy seeds or plants which have travelled too far to get to you. It might be enjoyable to have an exotic plant in your garden, but it is hardly the greenest approach to developing a garden. Instead, focus on attaining plants which are native to your local area. As well as being better for the planet (as it has not had to travel a long way), this will also mean that you have a garden of plants which are bound to do enormously well where you are. They will have the perfect climate, suitable soil, and will undergo less stress. As a result, you’ll have healthier, happier plants - and a healthier planet. You have other benefits to enjoy here. When you fill out your garden with native plants, you will be encouraging the local wildlife much more profusely. Before you know it, you will have a space full of buzzing insects. Not only is this an excellent support for the local ecosystem, it’s also hugely rewarding, and can make your garden feel that little bit more special to spend time in.
The Bees & The Birds
While we’re on the subject of creepy-crawlies, this is another excellent approach you can take towards creating a garden in a green way. You should aim to introduce and encourage as much life as you can in your garden. All good gardeners know that it is desirable to have plenty of insects visiting your garden, and hopefully setting up their home there. For one, you will find your garden has more pollinators, which enables the future fertilization of the plants, and leads to the production of seeds. Producing your own seeds is enormously satisfying, and it’s another hugely influential way to help protect the planet, as it is much less wasteful than having to buy seeds regularly.
As we have seen already, having plenty of native plants will ensure that your garden receives an influx of pollinators. These come in many shapes and sizes, but the most important for eco purposes are the bees. These fuzzy little creatures are central to a healthy ecosystem, and they need encouraging in this time of natural upheaval. The more bees you can bring into your garden, the more you are doing for the planet.
For the gardener who is keen to be kind to nature, there is another critical reason to encourage insects in the garden. You want to protect your plants from the kinds of insect that will eat them - especially any vegetable crops you might have - and it goes without saying that you should aim to avoid using any killing agent to get rid of them. Introducing a wide variety of insects into the garden ensures that those nuisance ones get eaten - in the natural way - and so leave your plants alone. Certain insects are particularly useful: ladybirds, for instance, eat aphids - which would otherwise destroy most of your plants over a summer period. So introducing insects is also a great, natural way to keep your garden pest-free - and remember, all you are doing here is encouraging a natural food chain process.
Birds are a useful friend to have, too. They will eat slugs, snails, caterpillars, and many other pests besides. Having bird feeders and water tables, along with the introduction of native plants, will ensure that your garden soon has some birds coming to visit.
The Most Precious Resource
Whatever the size of your garden, there is one substance you will find yourself using plenty as you tend to it: water. All of your plants will need water, albeit to varying degrees, and if you are hoping to be truly eco-friendly, you will probably be keen to find a way to conserve as much water as you can. So how can you expect to marry this noble green goal with the desire to keep healthy plants? A lot of this will depend on where you live in the world, and specifically what your local climate is like. Even the type of soil you have will determine how much water specific plants are going to need. Obviously, if you live somewhere where it rains a lot, then you are not going to have to worry too much - and chances are, those native plants you have introduced into your garden tend to do well in lots of rain. But if you are in a dry or just a moderate area, you will have to think very early on about water: how to store it, how to use it sparingly, and how to make sure your plants have enough of it.
Regardless of where you are, the most important thing you can do is to find some way to catch rainwater. Not only will this be especially eco-friendly, but it will also be particularly good water for your plants, especially the native ones. There are thousands of ways to catch rainwater, but the simplest is to go out and buy a water butt or some small water tanks and set them up in your garden. It makes sense if you place them under guttering, or create a system whereby the rainwater will travel from the roof to the butt. You can also make a surprising difference by ensuring you always leave your watering can out overnight. Over time, it will collect rain, and even though it will only be a small amount, it is bound to make a difference. Even just saving a small amount of water is worth your while.
Pay attention to what the individual needs of your plants are: some will require more water than others, so you can make sure that you are not over-watering something which is relatively drought-resistant. Finally, bear in mind that, for most plants, a thorough watering twice a week is better than a light sprinkling every day. The root complexes of most plants will develop more strongly this way. But more to the point, if you water your garden to this kind of schedule, you can keep an eye on exactly how much water you are using.
Water is genuinely precious for this planet, so conserve is however you can. As you can see, it is entirely possible to do so and still have a healthy, thriving garden.
The Miracle Of Compost
Some people are faintly disgusted by the idea of compost - or, in some cases, not so faintly. But any good gardener knows its value, and once you get a compost going, it is actually something of a joy. The benefits of having compost in the garden are clear. You don’t have to buy it, you are keeping it local (and therefore more eco-friendly), and you are making use of waste in a natural, efficient way.
What gets in the way of most attempts at compost working is a lack of understanding about what should and should not go in the compost bin. Place in there any food scraps you create while preparing a meal, such as fruit and veg and so on, but avoid cooked foods or any meats. Also aim to include plenty of ‘browns’ - cardboard, egg boxes - and any trimmings from the garden too, especially leaf mulch. Over a period of about nine months, micro-organisms in the bin will break it all down to sweet-smelling compost. This is one of the best green things you can do in your garden, and it’s a joy to behold.
Gardening with a green attitude can really make a difference: to yourself, to your garden, but mostly to the planet. It’s easy, straightforward, and you can start at any time - so what’s your excuse?