In this blog post we discuss eco-friendly gardens. Read on for our tips and advice.
Our tips and advice on an eco-friendly garden
Many homeowners now think of their garden as being an extra room, and so, as a result, the environmental concerns that affect us inside the house are, inevitably, going to follow us outside. Fear not, however, as there are many actions that you can take to ensure that your garden is green in both senses of the word.
Reducing our water usage is perhaps one of the biggest concerns for gardeners today. There are two ways in which you can do this - firstly you can simply use less. Many experts believe that if you water less often you encourage both your plants and your lawn to take deeper roots, therefore making them sturdier and more drought resistant. When you do water them, ensure that it is in the evening - this way the water will take longer to evaporate, resulting in less water being required over the long run.
Pots and hanging baskets are renowned for being extremely thirsty, but you can slow down evaporation by lining them with plastic bags. Meanwhile, spread mulch over your borders to conserve water.
It's also time to ditch the sprinkler. Sprinklers waste a phenomenal amount of water, especially when they throw the water high, as so much is lost through evaporation. Hosepipes themselves use up to 1,000 litres of water an hour - meaning that it can be expensive as well as wasteful.
Secondly, you can recycle water. Grey water is the term used for water generated from household activities such as washing-up and bathing, and such water is perfectly suitable for watering your garden. Rainwater is perhaps even better for your plants, however, as there are no chlorine additives, so invest in a water butt to collect rain from your gutters.
Outdoor lights don't take energy-saving light bulbs, and so it might be time to think about how you illuminate your garden. Modern solar lights which are specifically designed for outdoor use are available in abundance, and they tend to throw off more light than their former models.
Gardening itself is a healthy activity, and so get rid of all the mod cons that are designed to save you work. Tools such as electric leaf blowers probably don't even save you that much time in the long run - so get the rake back out! Similarly, if you only have a small lawn, consider reverting to a manual lawnmower - the effect is just as good.
Whatever we can do to reduce our contribution to the nation's landfill sites has to be a good thing, so make your own compost. The finished product is equal in quality to what you would purchase from the garden centre, but without the carbon footprint that got it there in the first place. All grass cuttings and uncooked kitchen waste can go into your compost bin - and you'll have a great soil conditioner at the end of the process.
Have a go at growing your own herbs and vegetables. Anything that you can harvest from your own garden gives you major environmental brownie points and the results can be very rewarding - you may even find that your culinary skills improve to boot!
Shopping organically has to be one of the easiest green transitions that you can make. Simply replace your existing chemical-based pesticides with organic shop-bought substitutes, and synthetic plant foods with nettle and comfrey.
It is important to remember that, ultimately, gardens are a natural habitat. However, attracting the correct wildlife while putting off pests is an age-old gardener's problem. Encourage helpful insects such as ladybirds into your garden with specialist food and, in return, the ladybirds will devour your plant-eating insects. Also consider introducing a wormery, as these wriggly creatures will demolish organic waste, leaving you with a great soil conditioner with which to mulch your beds and borders.
Get a bird feeder, or even install a pond, and you may be lucky enough to find that the birds and frogs get rid of unwanted slugs and snails. Having a pesticide-free garden may also attract species such as hedgehogs, which are currently under threat in their natural habitat.
If you are planning a garden from scratch, ensure that you only plant native species. Not only will this reduce your carbon footprint in terms of air miles, it will ensure that you have the most suitable plants for your area. This means that your flora will be more likely to survive the weather without a helping hand -saving both water and time.
Also put plants in their ideal surroundings. If you have a shrub that can survive drought, then place it in the driest part of your garden. Likewise, if a plant craves sunlight then place it in a south-facing position. It may sound simple, but such measures may save you having to keep them alive by artificial methods.
Where you can, take cuttings from friends and neighbours. Anything that reduces your visits to the garden centre ultimately reduces carbon emissions in terms of packaging and distribution.
Dressing your garden
All garden designers will tell you to make a feature out of your garden, however, this doesn't mean that is has to be an expensive feature - or even a new one. If you take an old ceramic pot that is broken, lay it on its side and plant it accordingly it will make a great focal point. Old watering cans and teapots look just as good when brimming with greenery.
If you are buying decking or wooden patio furniture, ensure that it isn't made of tropical hardwood, such as mahogany, unless it's boasting a Forest Stewardship Council label. Where possible, try to buy native products, again for the air miles consideration.
With thanks to BuyAssociation.