10 ways to make your garden environmentally friendly
Private gardens in the UK cover an area larger than 10 million acres – that is bigger than all the country’s nature reserves combined! The potential for gardens to act as safeguards for local and national ecosystems cannot be overstated. Beyond environmental benefits, eco-friendly gardening improves health and wellbeing and is often cheaper than non-ecological methods. Here are ten ways to make your garden greener.
1. Relax your lawncare regime
Studies show that the average petrol lawnmower emits the same amount of pollution in an hour as a car travelling 100 miles. Give your lawnmower a break this month and leave an area of your lawn to grow wild. Sow wildflower seeds to attract bees and butterflies.
2. Give up plastic
The tide is turning on plastic use generally and there are now a plethora of alternative products for the environmentally-conscious gardener. Try using biodegradable wood fibre pots when sowing seeds and potting on, or make your own using old newspaper.
3. Attract wildlife
Adding a water feature such as a bird bath or pond is a great way to encourage wildlife into your garden, helping to boost biodiversity. Attract an even greater variety of wildlife by providing shelters for small mammals and amphibians and putting out nest boxes and food for wild birds.
4. Go peat-free
Peatlands support a biodiverse community of over 3,000 species of insect, 800 flowering plants and hundreds of different kinds of mosses, liverworts, lichens and fungi, as well as containing one of the world’s most important carbon stores. UK gardeners use 66 per cent of all peat consumed in the country. Choose peat-free alternatives for your growing media and help protect this important habitat.
5. Avoid chemicals
Pesticides and weed killers can be damaging for all forms of life. Choose biological and organically approved pest controls instead; the results can be just as good and you avoid any unintended damage to the wider ecosystem.
6. Make your own compost
Making compost is an excellent way to feed the soil in your garden without resorting to inorganic chemical fertilisers that can cause soil and water pollution. Home composting also reduces food waste and could save you money in the long-term. New ‘hot composters’ such as the Green Johanna and Hotbin make the process even more efficient, giving you usable compost in as little as 90 days. Read our other blog post on how to make compost using tumblers and bins for more information.
7. Harvest rainwater
Providing safe water to our homes requires a significant amount of energy and treatment. Using rainwater instead of mains water in your garden can therefore help lower carbon emissions. Rainwater is also better for plants as it tends to have a lower pH value than mains water, the latter holding minerals that can raise pH and negatively affect nutrient availability. Rainwater is especially good for acid-loving plants such as magnolias, azaleas, and camellias.
8. Sow organic
Support sustainable practices at the production level by sowing chemical-free organic seeds. By using fewer pesticides and chemical fertilisers in their production, they help reduce the chemical load in our environment overall.
9. Choose solar-powered lighting
Solar powered garden lighting will help reduce your carbon footprint compared with electric alternatives. Not only is it cheaper and safer than electric; the low-intensity lighting and warmer hues (warm white, yellow, or amber) of solar lighting will minimise light pollution and its impact on garden wildlife.
10. Look for FSC-certified garden products
The FSC system allows you to purchase wood and other forest products made with materials from well-managed forests. When you see the FSC logo on a label, you can buy garden products with confidence that you are helping to ensure our forests are alive for generations to come.