When you think about being more eco-friendly, your first thoughts will probably turn to recycling, making reusable swaps in your lifestyle, cutting out toxic cleaning products and so on but why stop at just inside the home? Have you ever thought about how ‘green’ your garden is or about how you could make it far more environmentally friendly? Here are my top tips on how to make your garden ‘greener’.
Choosing your garden furniture is a big deal. First of all, you want something that is going to last– there’s a lot of cheap plastic sets that may seem like the cheapest option to begin with but they aren’t always built to last and where will they end up? Landfill! Your best choice would be to shop as sustainably as you can. You can do this by either buying secondhand which keeps products in circulation that have already been produced or source new products that have been sustainably manufactured. When looking for new items you will want to check where they are made (if you can get items made in your own country this is far better for the climate), you want to look for wood with the FSC logo which proves that the wood you are choosing is apart of a sustainable system and you will also want to check that everything has been made ethically as well.
There are so many ways in which you can add something new to your garden just by repurposing what you already have. Wooden pallets can be broken up and turned into benches, outdoor sofas, a mud kitchen for the kids etc. Old sinks can become fun and interesting planters for flowers or herbs. The remaining parts of the wood from the decking or odd jobs could be joined together to form window boxes or perhaps a garden area for the children? By making your own, you will be saving a product from being mass-produced and creating a unique piece that only you will own.
Forget the Seasonals, Go Perrenial
As pretty as seasonal flowers can look when they are in bloom, it is very short-lived and come the end of the summer, your garden will be left bare. The following year, you will make the car journey back to the garden centre, who will take in the seasonal flowers via a lorry delivery… You can see where this is going. If you swapped your disposable plant habit for perennials (flowers/plants that return year after year) you will not only be saving yourself a lot of time and money, you will be reducing your carbon footprint, you will reduce the demand for seasonals which will reduce the amount being delivered and again, reducing their carbon footprint, PLUS you will be attracting bugs/bees/insects for more months of the year. Think about purchasing plants such as Lavender, Thyme, Heather, Hosta, Aster, Delphinium, Hydrangea and Phlox to create a beautiful garden you can enjoy all year round.
Create a Wildflower Meadow
Bees are an important part of our ecosystem and which is why it is vital that we plant flowers that will provide for their needs. By allowing your lawn to become a wildflower meadow you will be creating a haven for all insects which will provide food and shelter. If you don’t fancy this option, why not purchase some seedballs to scatter amongst your flower beds? These can contain up to 50 different seeds and will easily sow themselves. Just throw them onto the desired area and leave them to do their thing. Soon enough, you will have stunning wildflowers filling every space.
This ties in with the wildflower meadow I mentioned above. By mowing less, you will be allowing flowering weeds to flourish and provide nectar and pollen to those all-important insects. Dandelions may seem like a right pain in the grass but they are rich in nectar and a valuable source of food for bees. By leaving these to grow for a little longer, you will be helping this little ecosystem enormously.
Build a Bug House
Providing a place for bugs to live in your garden is such an easy way of helping our environment as well as the health of your outdoor space. Bugs are often seen as pests but they all play important roles and having them in our gardens is natural and needed. Your bug house doesn’t have to be perfect and it doesn’t have to be fancy, as long as you provide layers for them to hide between and some shelter, you will be helping. Take a look at how we made a bug house a few years ago here.
Feed The Birds
During the winter months, birds can find it difficult to find enough food. In Spring they are working twice as hard because they are feeding their young and in Autumn they use up more energy as they moult. By leaving out seed, scraps and making a variety bird feeders, you will be helping certain breeds to survive– thrushes, starlings and sparrows in particular which are all listed as birds of conversation concern. In the drier months don’t forget to leave out some water so they don’t dehydrate.
When you bring water into the garden you bring more insects, more birds and also a wider variety of both. Whether you choose a pond, a small bucket converted into a water paradise, a water feature or fountain each will help your garden to become far ‘greener’.
Reduce the Hard Landscaping
The removal of green spaces and the addition of hard landscaping has a direct impact on our environment in several ways. By taking away plants, grass, bushes, trees etc. you are removing food, shelter and homes to insects, bugs, birds and hedgehogs. The more we remove, the harder it is for them to survive and the further away they will all begin to move. Hard landscaping is also a contributing factor to flood issues. Trees, soil and plants are vital in the balance of nature and when these are taken away, water doesn’t have anywhere to go which means it sits on the top of concrete/paving/slabs instead of being absorbed. I’m not saying don’t have a patio, gardens need a variety of areas to make them interesting and to provide you with a suitable place for your family to sit/play. What I am saying is that we need to ensure that gardens still retain as much green space as possible.
Add a water butt to your garden so that you can collect rainwater and not use tap water on your plants. Not only will you be saving water, saving on your water bill not to mention the pain of the tangled hose but you will also be helping your plants. Rainwater is far richer in nutrients for them and you will quickly notice a difference in their health and growth.
Garden waste can be a tricky thing to dispose of. In our area, we have to pay for our council to take it away, otherwise our choice is a trip to the tip. If you love to garden and want to put your cuttings to good use, why not try a home compost system? Now, I am no expert in this area as we only started our compost journey last year and it takes a while for it all to breakdown and become that super-rich compost that we all want for our flower beds. However, I have done my research and I am giving it a good go. What is great about composting is that you can also reduce how much waste goes into your normal bin too. A compost bin can actually take a variety of items including egg shells. peelings, fruit, leftover/rotten uncooked veg, tea leaves, coffee granules, cardboard, sawdust, paper, dust from the vacuum (as long as you don’t have a carpet with microfibers), paper towels, straw… the list is pretty extensive once you start looking into it all. So not only will you be reducing the amount of waste you send out of your home and garden, you will also be saving yourself time in doing so as well as saving money on compost.
Use a Natural Weedkiller
Weedkillers can be highly toxic and most will come with a warning to keep them away from children and pets during use and for a certain period of time afterwards. If this can be damaging to your own child’s health, just imagine what it is doing to the soil and any creatures that may come into contact with it. I recently made my own natural homemade weedkiller and it worked a treat. You can make your own by following my steps in this blog post here.
An easy way to make your life greener is by reducing the energy your home produces. We are all very aware that we should be switching off lights inside the house but how do you power light to your garden in an eco-friendly way? By solar power. Not only are these lights easy to buy both online and on the highstreet, they are also available in a wide variety of styles and sizes and are the best option in providing greener light to your outdoor space.
Grow Your Own
Growing your own fruit and veg is a great way of living a greener life. Not only will you be able to enjoy being outside more, but you will also reduce your supermarket costs as well as the plastic waste that a lot of these items come needlessly wrapped in AND the carbon footprint created by the importation/shipping/delivery of the foods to the shops. It’s a win-win really.
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