Over the past few decades, we have completely changed the way we perceive and address the health and well-being of our world, and it has taken a turn for the worst. We have been pumping out harmful chemicals and greenhouse gasses and polluting the environment so much that now it has not only affected our quality of life but the balance between nature and human civilisation is tipping.
At this moment, we have to make drastic changes in our lifestyle not only for ourselves but also for our future generations. We have time and we can still restore the world to how it used to be but this is not one person’s job, rather, it is a collective effort so doing our part is crucial.
That being said, we are all well aware of how hard it is to completely modify our lifestyle, but making our gardens eco-friendly is something everyone can do. Having an eco-friendly garden means incorporating sustainable practices in your garden which require you not to use any chemicals or pesticides, respect nature, and give back to it as much you can. It is about maintaining a beautiful balance.
Here are some ways in which you can make your garden eco-friendly so that you can play your part in reducing any harmful impact on the environment.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
There are many things we buy without considering that they will likely end up in the landfill such a plastic packaging, cardboard boxes, old wood, old piping, etc. All these can be recycled or put to good use.
Whenever I order things online, I ask the service provider to avoid sending merchandise in plastic, and even if there are cardboard boxes, I save them so I can throw them in my compost later. All disposable materials and old wood and piping can be utilised around your garden and perhaps you can use them as stakes for your climbing plants. There are always interesting and creative ways you can reuse packaging materials around the house and in your garden.
Best Trees That Reduce CO2
The most effective way of removing carbon dioxide from the air is by planting trees. Co2 remains in the atmosphere for more than a hundred years and becomes a powerful influence on global warming. While almost all trees excel at filtering out carbon dioxide, some trees are even better at it than others.
The trees that are considered best in absorbing carbon are East Palatka holly, Slash Pine, Live Oak, bald cypress, and finally, Southern Magnolia. Palm trees are considered to be the least effective when it comes to absorbing carbon and an average-sized Palatka tree absorbs 769 pounds of Co2 per year.
Compost Your Green Waste
Composting doesn’t cost you anything and frankly speaking, it can be undertaken in both small scale and large scale gardening, even inside the house using indoor containers. Not only is it free, but it is also organic and greatly helps in reducing green waste which makes up about 50 per cent of what people usually throw away and which eventually ends up in the landfill.
However, once you decide to compost, you can drastically reduce the amount of waste you produce. To make compost, all you need is green waste, brown baste, water, and air. To start the process, you need to mix equal parts of all of these materials and let them rot over the next few months, making sure to turn the mix regularly to introduce air inside.
Your compost will be ready once it becomes brown and crumbly, giving out an earthy scent. The most common brown waste found include dried leaves, cardboard, and newspaper, while green waste can be extracted from fresh grass clippings and food waste.
Grow Your Own Fruits and Vegetables
Growing your own food is another way you can lessen your environmental impact and this can also help you save a lot of money. Before the produce reaches the shelves of your supermarket, it travels thousands of kilometers, producing environment-harming gases.
When you grow your own produce, it takes no time at all and you save yourself from buying plastic, which is an added bonus. You can grow the food you like and once your garden starts going, it will offer you additional benefits such as attracting pollinators and wildlife. Growing your own produce is super easy once you understand the needs of your plants.
Attract Wildlife and Plant for Pollinators
Most of us are unaware of how important bees and other pollinators are, and how many plants, trees, and food crops depend on them. Without these pollinators, our environment will experience irreversible consequences. This is why you can make your garden eco-friendly and plant flowers or fruits that are bee-friendly such as lavender, foxglove, honeysuckle, and alliums. You can even add wildflowers since most pollinators simply love those.
Just like bees, other wildlife will also try to find sanctuary within your garden and it will give them a safe space to live. This is also why you should avoid owning a fully manicured garden and leave small areas within your garden that welcome the wildlife.
You can put up bird boxes, homes for hedgehogs, and even plant hedges which give the animals a hiding place. Providing a space for pollinators and wildlife is a small way of giving back to the environment and to the animals who play such an important part in our ecosystem.
As a sustainable gardener, you must be vigilant about your use of water which you can do by either minimising the use of water around the house, in your garden, and using only what is necessary or you can save rainwater to use around your garden. The goal should be to utilise water sustainably and apply natural resources such as rainwater or river water as much as possible. While equipment such as sprinklers and hoses are fast and effective, they also waste a lot of water.
Use Organic Fences
Many fences are either made out of iron or wood and almost all wood that is used is processed, which means that it cannot be recycled as it may contain harmful chemicals. This is why I suggest that you use organic wood such as wooden branches, scrap wood, and even saplings to create sustainable and unique fences which also add to the overall attractiveness and aesthetic quality of your home.
Mulch is the practice of using organic materials to cover the top of the soil which prevents the soil from drying out, provides nutrients to the soil, moderates soil temperature, and suppresses weed production. Most sustainable and eco-friendly gardens are mulched and you can mulch as soon as you plant something. It covers the soil to protect it from elemental damage and is one of the keystones of sustainable gardening.
Avoid Using Pesticides and Other Chemicals
If you want a completely eco-friendly garden, then you should avoid the use of any pesticides and chemicals because they can harm the insects and pollinators that are essential to the health of the soil and your garden. Instead of using herbicides, pesticides, and even fungicides, when you are trying to be eco-friendly and sustainable, you should use natural and organic ways to maintain a healthy ecosystem.
You can do that by planting flowers that discourage harmful insects from infecting the plants and you can water the base of the plants rather than the leaves to prevent fungus from forming. Stop using chemical fertilizers and potting soil because they ultimately harm the ecosystem of the garden by causing nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. There are plenty of organic fertilizers and soil available on the market for you to use, too.
Plant Trees inside Your Garden
Gardens that have trees and look more natural are more likely to attract wildlife, so if you want to be more eco-friendly, plant trees that will not only attract wildlife but will also give them food and shelter. The trees also reduce carbon dioxide and provide shade, so it is going to be beneficial for you and the environment.
Use Locally-sourced Materials
When you use local materials such as brick or cinderblocks or even wood that hasn’t travelled hundreds and thousands of miles, you not only lessen your carbon footprint but also support the nearby local businesses. Your garden will look more organic when you use local materials and it will also be cheaper.
Another way you can attract pollinators is by planting grass that is native to your area. Because they are more suited for the weather in your location, they will be easier to grow and look after and will be more resistant to diseases and pests when compared to non-native varieties of plants. You should also avoid using lawnmowers because it produces harmful gases. In addition, try to leave your grass untrimmed and a little on the longer side so that you can attract wildlife.
Make a Green Roof
Green roofs are also becoming popular as an eco-friendly approach to gardening. They not only cool down the temperature of the house but also provide good insulation, control water run-off, and improve air quality. They are also visually stunning and you can transform your existing garage and shed roof with green roofing.
Decrease Peat Use
While peat is great at growing plants, it is dug from peat bogs and it causes irreversible damage to the overall natural habitat. You need to either reduce the use of peat inside your garden or stop using it completely, use homemade compost or mulch. You can use wood fibre, coconut husk, wood bark, and other green waste to replace peat.
Use Natural Materials
If you cannot find any wood or other elements to reuse inside your garden, then you can at least try to find natural materials to build structures inside your garden such as fences, raised beds, stakes, etc. Unlike non-organic materials, organic materials can be reused and composted so there will be no lasting environmental impact.
Frequently Asked Questions about Eco-friendly gardens in Cardiff
What is an eco-friendly garden?
An eco-garden uses sustainable and eco-friendly means to create a landscape that not only uses natural and organic materials but also avoids pesticides and chemicals so that your outdoors can become a sanctuary for wildlife and pollinators. You can drastically reduce your carbon footprint and aside from the initial investment, you will be saving a lot of money in the long run.
How do I start an eco-friendly garden?
If you are thinking about constructing an eco-garden from scratch, the first thing you need to do is figure out the landscaping and how you will set everything up so that you can maximise the space and get the most out of your garden. You can construct raised beds, keyhole gardens, and other garden designs that help you compost and reduce your waste and also provide a space for starting a garden from scratch.
If you are concerned that your garden soil might not be suitable for growing local plants or any crops at all, then there is no need to worry! You can always utilise raised beds which are ideal because they create a new surface for you to grow your plants on. Thus, you can create the best environment for your plants to grow and blossom.
At this point in time, we are responsible for our actions and we have to realise that our choices and actions have an incredible impact on the environment. We can make a conscious change and effort by adopting the eco-garden approach while engaging in more sustainable practices.
Changing your lifestyle is difficult and most people will shy away from growing their own crops because it takes a lot of time and effort, but it is truly worth it, especially when we want to create a safe place for our children to play and engage in different activities.