The average gardener likes to consider themselves a master of their own, little corner of the natural environment. However, the truth is that keeping a garden healthy can be a lot of work, and some of the methods we use to speed the process along can do a lot more harm than good. We could be hurting not only our own garden but the environment, as well. Here, we’re going to look at how to make sure your garden is not only thriving but eco-friendly, too.
Produce more than you consume
The idea of providing more than you use is not just one of the core tenets of homesteading or permaculture, but it is a good way to make sure that the overall environmental footprint of your garden is reduced as much as possible. Growing your own food, when possible, saves you a lot of money and can make your meals taste a lot better. By making your own food, you are also contributing much less to the harmful farming practices that use so much pesticide and herbicide that it is affecting the quality of our drinking water. Let’s not forget the sheer carbon footprint involved in getting a lot of the produce we eat from the farm to the store and to our plate. Don’t feel overly guilty if you cannot be entirely self-sustainable. Every little bit helps, so do what you can.
Show a little love for the natives
A lot of the best green gardening practices revolve around preserving the balance of the natural environment as much as possible. Our ecosystems are diverse, beautiful, and worth protecting. Invasive species are a major risk when it comes to these ecosystems. Not only does this apply to animals, but to plants as well. Planting a wildflower patch in your garden can help to sustain and protect your area’s native species. Besides giving them a home to thrive in, they also support the other parts of the ecosystem, such as pollinating animals like butterflies. Who doesn’t want to see butterflies in their garden?
Grow your own fertilizer
As mentioned, the chemicals we use to feed our soil and keep away the undesirables are having a net negative effect on the health of our ecosystems. Chemical fertilizer is no different. It breaks down into nitrates, which can cause groundwater contamination that can stay for decades. Not only does can these nitrates get into the water supply, causing severe health issues for young children and pregnant women, as well as any animals who use natural water sources. It can harm the quality of the soil, raising the acidity to the point that you’re able to grow less and less. Fertilizers can end up doing your lawn and your plants a lot more harm than good, so consider growing your own with a compost bin, instead.
Dealing with pests peacefully
Pests can make a huge mess of your garden, but that doesn’t mean you should go all-out when it comes to deterring or even killing them. There are plenty of artificial chemical-free, organic pesticides that can help you tackle individual species. You can also consider growing companion plants that can either deter pests with their very presence or can attract the predators that feed on your pests. For instance, if you have an aphid problem, then growing dill, fennel or cilantro can attract ladybugs that will feed off of them. Similarly, placing a bird feeder or birdbath in the garden can bring the feathered friends that will happily gobble up any slugs attacking your leafy greens.
Know your friends from your foes
Knowing the pests that you’re dealing with should play a role when it comes to how you tackle them, as well. For instance, knowing the difference between bees and wasps is crucial. Bees are not known to be very aggressive and have a rounder shape compared to wasps. There’s a growing threat of extinction towards bees, so if you see them in your garden, you should either attempt to remove them safely or to simply let them be. Pest control services can help not only get rid of your pest problem but to do it in a way that doesn’t cause undue harm to beneficial or endangered species like bees.
New is overrated
It’s not all about how you minimize your impact on the natural environment, either. Gardens are the perfect place for garden furniture, not just lawns, flowers, and birdbaths. Consider recycled furniture options when outfitting your garden or outdoor spaces instead of newly made ones. They look as a good as new, if they’re constructed from recycled materials and allow you to play a direct role in tackling the problem of plastic pollution that is growing across the globe. You can also recycle all kinds of household items to act as a planter or to otherwise protect vulnerable seedlings. For instance, used plastic bottles can be washed out and used as a mini-cloche to keep those seedlings safe from harsh winds, slugs, and snails. Any time you want to fit something new in the garden, consider if you can find a recycled alternative.
Water with care
Similarly, the more water you can recycle, the better. Greywater can be used, but there are some concerns that soapy residue might contain chemicals that can be harmful to lawns as well as beneficial insects and animals. You can find household cleaners which are safer to use in greywater systems but a much better alternative is to use rainwater. You can harvest the rainwater in the garden, storing as much of it as possible so you have to rely on the hose a lot less. Consider a water-saving hose that controls how much water you use at any one time, as well. Overwatering the garden can be very bad for it, above all else, so you have plenty of reason to water with care.
We all need to be invested in the health of our environment, including the native species that we might not necessarily want in the garden. And the good productive varieties that are often overlooked as weeds. Hopefully, the tips above can help you do just that.