Tips for Creating a Sustainable Garden
The idea behind sustainable gardening is to work with the local environment with little addition of fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, etc. It is a way to create a garden that uses environmentally-friendly practices and follows the basic motto of “right plant, right place”. A long-term goal may be to create a garden that is self-sustaining with little help from you, but in the short term, it’s all about what plants really work where you live and how to keep them and the soil healthy in a non-damaging way.
So, what are some things that you can do to make your garden sustainable? Here are a few ideas:
Use Native Plants – Native plants have evolved to live in the climate conditions where your garden is. They will need a lot less care as they are much more resistant to any harsh climate changes, like hot and/or dry summers. Also, their resistance to local pests and diseases is much higher, so less chemical fertilizers will be needed.
Collect Rain Water – By collecting rain water in drums or barrels, you will conserve water and also save money. You can use rain water however you like, reducing the need for water provided by the municipality where you live. Not only can you use rain water in the garden, you can get filtering systems so that you can use it in your home. You will waste less water, have water available for your garden during the garden season and also reduce your water bills. A winning situation all around.
Reduce the Size of Your Lawn – Most grass used in lawns is non-native and takes a lot of care and resources. By reducing the amount of grass you have, or converting it to local grasses, you will save time and money in its upkeep. Lawn can be replaced with paving and patios or larger garden areas.
Compost – Composting has two huge environmental benefits. It is a natural way to improve soil and it reduces the amount of waste you are producing and sending to landfills. Both kitchen and garden waste can be used to make your own compost and with a compost bin in your garden, some of the nutrients will go directly into the ground below it. Finally, you will save money as you won’t need to buy costly fertilizers.
Attract Wildlife to Your Garden – By using local species of plants, you will attract more local species of wildlife, including birds, bees, butterflies and bats. Increasing the amount of wildlife visiting your garden will make it a much healthier garden, as they all act as pollinators and transport pollen around the local ecosystem. Also, native wildlife can act as a natural pest remover by eating species of insects that may otherwise harm your plants. Adding features like bat boxes and bird houses and feeders will also help attract wanted wildlife.
Use Natural, Local Products to Build Garden Features – Whether building a patio, deck, fence, pathway, whatever, try to use local, non-exotic types of products. Also, consider using recycled materials like stone, brick and concrete salvaged from construction companies. Be careful to not use chemically treated products, such as railroad ties, so the toxic chemicals do not leach into the soil. By shopping locally, you will be reducing the amount of greenhouse gases produced compared to when materials are shipped in far away destinations.
Plant Trees – Planting deciduous trees, those that lose their leaves, not only provides shade in your garden, it will actually affect the energy efficiency of your home. By planting leafy trees near your home, you can reduce air conditioning bills, as they will block some of the sun and heat from reaching your windows. In the fall, when they lose their leaves, the reverse happens. More sun reaches your house, warming it up, so you spend less on heating bills. Finally, trees are important for reducing the amount of carbon gases in the atmosphere, so help to reduce global climate change.
All in all, no matter where you live, a sustainable garden is going to look great, save you money and time maintaining it and be environmentally friendly. Even if you are not a huge green follower, the benefits of sustainable gardening should make it attractive to everyone.