A beginner’s guide to sustainable gardening.
If you’re anything like the team at Earth + Me, you’re already doing your bit to help the planet: recycling your waste, eating a sustainable diet, and cutting out those dreaded single-use plastics. But what about your outside space? Nicky Roeber, Online Horticultural Expert from Wyevale Garden Centres, shares some sustainable gardening tips that will make your outside space an eco-conscious haven.
Nicky Roeber - A beginner’s guide.
We’re currently in the midst of a revolution in gardening, and the future is green. Sustainability was a big theme at the Chelsea Flower Show this year, and a number of designers showcased gardens that promoted conservation and protecting the environment. It just goes to show that we can work with nature to create spaces that are every bit as environmentally friendly as they are beautiful.
Here, I’ll share my tips for creating a more sustainable garden, which is ecologically balanced, friendly to local wildlife, and perfectly beautiful to look at.
Making your own compost is the ultimate form of recycling: you’re essentially taking what you’ve grown or used in the kitchen and putting that goodness back into your garden. Plus, homemade compost is dense with nutrients and will greatly improve the structure and moisture retention of your garden soil, resulting in thriving, healthy plants and crops.
To start composting, you’ll need a compost bin or turner and a warm spot in your garden. Then, you can layer up organic garden and kitchen waste and leave it to work its magic. The key to successful organic composting is to turn it regularly to keep it aerated and mix everything together: at least once every 14 days should do the trick. To learn more about getting started with composting, check out this guide from The Ecologist.
Focus on local plants
A sustainable garden should feature lots of plants which are native to the ecosystem in the local area. By ‘native plants’, I mean selecting varieties which are naturally suited to the climate where you live and the conditions in your garden.
Using native plants helps to improve the soil, and, as wildlife and insects are more likely to be attracted to familiar plants, it’s good for pollinators like birds, bees, butterflies, and beetles. Native plants will also often have better immunity to the types of pests and diseases that are local to your garden, meaning your plants will be easier to care for and there’s no need to use pesticides.
Conserving water is a key element of any sustainable garden, so install water butts on your down pipes to save rainwater. If you have a large garden with plenty of space and lots of plants to water during the summer months, you could even consider splashing out on an underground rain tank.
There are other ways you can help your plants to survive a long hot summer without relying on the hosepipe. Mulching will help to keep your soil moist, so spread a layer of organic matter (like shredded bark) around plants. Larger containers and pots are also better for conserving water as they won’t dry out as quickly. I’d also recommend that you don’t cut your lawn too short in hot weather, as this will make it even thirstier and more likely to dry out.
Upcycle plant pots
Instead of buying plastic plant pots, get creative and recycle old rubbish by turning them into plant pots. Upcycling old objects and turning them into planters is a great way to reuse unwanted materials, and you can create some really unique, eye-catching displays this way. Whether it’s old sinks, drawers, tin baths, buckets, tyres, or watering cans, almost anything can creatively be upcycled into a planter! Just make sure you can drill a few holes into the bottom to improve the drainage of your container.
Control pests naturally
No one wants to see the crops or flowers they’ve laboured over ruined by hungry insects, but that doesn’t mean you need to resort to pesticides, which can wreak havoc on bees and wildlife. Instead, try using natural methods to keep pesky bugs in check. For instance, you can blast greenfly off your roses using a strong jet of water, while copper slug and snail tape will stop pests from munching on your greenery without killing them.
You can also try and encourage some natural predators into your garden. Ladybirds will eat aphids, mealybugs, and mites: you can help attract them to your garden by growing things like coriander, nasturtiums, and geraniums, or you can buy live ladybirds from a specialist provider and release them. Remember, many destructive insects are a vital food source for birds, so installing a few bird boxes, feeders and baths will help attract these feathered pest-eating friends to your garden.
Your garden can be a greener space, in every sense of the word. Just take my tips on board, and before long, you should have a flourishing garden that’s as sustainable as it is stunning to look at.
Green spaces are very important, especially if you live in a city. Here at Earth + Me we are working with BeeBombs, an easy way to boost the biodiversity in your garden.