How green is your garden?
No, I’m not talking about the shade of your foliage, I’m talking about your garden’s impact on the environment. Living eco-friendly means making gardening choices that are safer and kinder to the environment. Most gardeners are drawn to the hobby because we love the outdoors, and we also love connecting with growing things.
However, shortcuts in gardening popularized by bulk stores and discounted materials can actually take a toll on the environment that we love so much. Fortunately, new gardening trends are leaning more and more towards sustainable growing.
In fact, if you take a look at some of the hottest trends of 2017 here, you’ll see eco-friendly changes, like tech that streamlines your water usage, or lawn alternatives that don’t take as much maintenance.
“Living eco-friendly means
making gardening choices that
are safer and kinder to
So, if you want your produce to be as healthy as it tastes, here are some tips to make your garden
a little greener:
#1: Natural Compost
Often, the cheapest compost at the store is made with quite a lot of chemicals. It’s also usually made of foreign materials that may not be as good for your garden in the long-term. You can buy all-natural organic compost, but often, the highest-quality items at the store are also the most expensive.
However, there’s another way to get the highest-quality compost for your garden! Just make your own for free. You can make compost in your back yard either by creating a pile, or putting compostable items into a container. The purpose of the container is just to keep the materials together and provide oxygen as it’s needed.
Remember to include an even amount of green compost materials (fruit and vegetable kitchen scraps, eggshells, and grass clippings) and brown compost materials (like dry leaves, sawdust, and woodchips). Keep the area just a little bit moist and rotate the materials regularly to provide oxygen and mix the materials well. Soon, you’ll have rich brown loam that your plants will love!
#2: Catch the Rain
Almost half of the residential water that we use is to irrigate and maintain our yards (including trees, lawns, and gardens). I believe that irrigating a garden is a smart investment of water, but it can still be a drain on our resources. Modern gardeners need to know how to water smart, not more.
*Know the needs of each of your plants in each phase of their growth. Water during the proper time of day so that you’re not losing half of your water to evaporation. Place the plants that can be scorched and need more moist soil in shady areas, perhaps in shade provided by other garden plants.
*Adjust your watering schedule to the weather. If there’s natural rain, your garden will need less watering that day.
*Catch the water as it comes. You can channel rainwater away from the areas that don’t need it, and save the water for your garden later. Consider setting up rain barrels under your house’s gutter spouts.
#3: Go Plastic-Free
How many garden materials do you buy that are plastic? We all know that since plastic doesn’t break down, it can be a major pollutant to our earth, impeding our ocean’s ecosystems and piling up in landfills.
So, whenever possible, try to go plastic-free, or recycle your plastic materials. When you’re buying pots, opt for sustainable materials like terra cotta or even metal. If you are using plastic, consider recycling! Use kitchen plastic (like old yogurt containers) for your garden work. For example, you can use them as tools, grow seedlings in them before transplanting plants in your garden, or even repaint the containers and use them for decoration.
#4: Install Lawn Alternatives
At some point, lush green lawns became the norm for suburban sprawl. However, new landscaping methods are rethinking this outdated model, especially in areas where it’s just impractical. Instead, it can be handy to look at ground cover plants like creeping vines, or even just natural, native grasses, which take up much less water, look just as beautiful, and give your yard a unique vibe.
You can also incorporate hardscaping elements that require virtually no maintenance at all, and yet will still look natural and charming in your garden. Consider patches of mulch, decorative stone, flower beds, or flagstone accent pieces.
Your garden itself is a useful tool in a lawn alternative. It may still require water, but at least you get a significant return on that water: fresh vegetables for your kitchen! Instead of isolating your garden in an out-of-the-way patch, consider incorporating it into your landscaping.
#5: Grow Native Plants
Growing native plants whenever possible is one of the smartest things you can do for a garden for many different reasons. First of all, native wildlife will love it. Birds and predatory insects that keep pests in your garden in check will be attracted to the area. Secondly, natural species will be easier to maintain. They’ll take up less water, be less susceptible to disease, and thrive despite fluctuations in the weather that could throw other species for a loop. Thirdly, your plants will produce more because they’re in their natural habitat.
About the Author
Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in all its forms. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from human psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon.
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