When working in your garden, the end goal is to produce a beautiful, lively space that can be admired and enjoyed as much as possible. However, at the same time, it's important to be aware of the environmental impact you may be having and how to reduce this to become an eco-friendly gardener. By gardening with a few eco-friendly practices in mind, you will be positively impacting the environment, local wildlife and your garden.
Regardless of whether gardening is a new hobby for you or you're a seasoned gardener, you have acres of land or a small outdoor space, here are a few eco-friendly gardening practices you can apply next time you’re gardening.
Avoid harmful chemicals
When pests are apparent in your garden, it can be easy to turn to sprays or products that promise to deter them. However, full of chemicals, these sprays can be harmful to any food you are growing as well as wildlife it's not intended for.
There are plenty of natural and organic ways to deter pests, which result in better health for your soil and wildlife, including:
- Encouraging natural predators to the area.
- Creating barriers using eggs shells, copper piping or fine sand for slugs and snails.
- Spraying a diluted soap with no detergent or additives on to plants.
- Placing garlic, cinnamon and coffee grounds around your plants to deter insects.
Make your own compost or fertiliser
Composting is the easiest way to feed your soil with the nutrients that it needs, whilst also having little impact on the environment.
Collect fallen leaves, hedge clippings and weeds and add them to the compost heap to create your own organic, healthy soil to use in your garden. The decaying organic substance mixed together creates compost that is full of nutrients. It encourages future plant growth, prevents disease from spreading and retains moisture in the soil, ensuring your garden will thrive.
This will help you to reduce waste, whilst also having a fresh compost supply at all times. Most importantly, it will also limit the use of chemicals in your garden.
For the full list of the items you can compost, please visit RecycleNow.
Whilst compost feeds the soil, the ingredients in fertilisers are intended to meet the needs of your plants, enabling them to grow much faster and enriching the plants that are lacking certain nutrients.
Aside from being a cost-effective option, making your own fertiliser is very environmentally friendly. Materials that were once considered to be waste, such as fruit and vegetable scraps, manure and other animal and plant matter will have a use once again. It will also mean you will be using a fertiliser that is 100% organic and natural for your plants to boost their health. The fertiliser provides slow-release nutrition, improves the soil texture, contains important secondary nutrients and is safe for the wildlife and environment.
Check out this video on how to turn common kitchen scraps into fertiliser for your garden
Although lighting is essential in your garden to illuminate your pathways, you don’t have to depend on electricity. Brighten your garden with solar lighting and reduce your dependency on electricity and costs involved.
Simply place the solar lights around your garden, let the sun charge them up during the day and allow them to illuminate your garden during the night. With no wiring, no paying for the electricity and a range of options for every budget, they are an eco-friendly alternative to electricity.
Solar fountains are also a great alternative to your ordinary water fountains that are controlled by solar power. The SolarAir Float is another addition you can add to your pond, which is a simple and quick solution for supplying your pond with additional air to support pond life. They’re both easy to use, low maintenance and require no mains wiring, therefore very eco-friendly with no running costs.
You can also use a Solar Irrigation System to water your plants. Using the water from your water butts, the irrigation system and solar powered pumps make watering your plants easy. There’s no need for electricity or a tap, meaning that there are no running costs.
The weather responsive drip irrigation is an eco-friendly way of watering your plants directly to the root. It detects the weather and alters itself accordingly to ensure that your plants and garden are effectively taken care of.
Save water by collecting rainfall in water butts, rather than getting your supply from the tap.
Water butts are easy to use and inexpensive. Having one in your garden, collecting rainfall and using it to water your plants will not only save you money, but also reduce the overall national water use rate. The rainwater can be collected from the roofs of homes, garages, greenhouses or other garden structures, as long as they have gutters and a drainpipe.
Due to the natural recycling, it's a cost-effective option and helps to decrease your environmental impact.
It’s also the recommended option to water your plants with. Rainwater is free of salts, minerals and chemicals and is the correct pH for the majority of plants. Tap water contains all of these things and they can be harmful to your plants in heavy concentrations.
Although you want to create a garden that’s pleasing to the eye, you also want to be mindful of the wildlife and their environment. It's important to create a garden where your wildlife can thrive and in doing so, you will be creating a sustainable and environmentally friendly garden.
There are plenty of ways to attract wildlife to your garden all year round, including:
- Providing shelters.
- Installing a water feature or pond.
- Choosing plants that provide pollen and nectar for as long a season as possible.
- Adding a bird feeder, bird bath or nest box.
- Leaving a section of long grass or have a woodpile to encourage insects.
Grow your own fruit and vegetables
Dedicate a section of your garden to grow your own food. By growing fruit and vegetables in your garden, you can sustain yourself with your own organic produce and enjoy a fresh supply at hand.
Growing your own fruit and vegetables has a range of benefits including reducing environmental impact, as you no longer are relying on store-bought produce, it will be cheaper and you can also enjoy the finished product more knowing that you've grown it yourself!
One of the ways that you can go green is by purchasing FSC-certified furniture for your home and garden. The FSC is a non-profit organisation that ensures that the forestry practised is environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable, and doesn’t compromise those of future generations.
When purchasing furniture with the FSC logo, you acknowledge where it comes from and support the sustainable forest management, which aims to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and protect wildlife habitat.
Aside from the wooden furniture being made from a natural and renewable material, it’s also high quality and long-lasting, with many of the woods suited to the British climate and offering an excellent combination of durability and value.
When gardening, it’s also important to be mindful of the tools that you are using. You can reduce your environmental impact with the following:
- Ecobarrow Recycled Wheelbarrow – this wheelbarrow is 100% recyclable and it has a low environmental impact when being manufactured.
- Grandpa’s Weeder – rather than using chemicals opt for this weeder that effortlessly helps you with your weeding.
- Push reel mower – if you’re looking to mow your lawn without leaving a carbon footprint, then this is for you as you don’t have to rely on gas or electricity.
Choose the right plants
Pick the plants that will thrive in the British climate. They’ll support the health of your garden; attract pollinators as well as a range of bugs to ensure your garden is naturally flourishing.
It is also recommended to avoid imported plants and varieties that may look interesting and aesthetically pleasing, but add little value to the eco-system, such as bamboo, as these can cause issues in your garden.
Furthermore, if you are growing fruit and vegetables, ensure you plant tried and tested varieties that can thrive in the British climate, to ensure you don’t have to use pesticides to help them grow.
You should also consider companion planting – growing a range of different plants next to one another that share mutual benefits. The natural and easy process can boost the plant's health, ensuring it stays healthy and strong.
A few plants that work well together include:
- Rose and garlic – garlic works as a repellent against pests.
- Cabbage and dill – the dill attracts wasps that help to control cabbageworms and other pests.
- Carrots and spring onions – deter pests due to the smell.
- Lavender and leeks – the strong lavender scent attracts pollinators and deter aphids.
Other benefits include deterring unwanted insects, improving pollination and crop yields and improving the flavour of certain vegetables.
Weeds draw out vital moisture nutrients from the soil and if left unchecked, can become so invasive that they take time, effort and toxic chemicals to remove. With a bit of clever planting, you can cover the ground with vegetation you do want, keeping unwanted weeds at bay. Grow herbs such as Mint or Thyme or if you prefer a flowery carpet, summer annuals such as petunias and busy lizzies are equally as effective. Planting Basil around your tomato plants acts as a weed suppressant and improves the flavour of your tomatoes at the same time! If you want to cover larger areas, cotoneaster, ground cover roses and periwinkles are especially effective.