While you think you might have green fingers, you can always make them a little greener by being more environmentally conscious in the garden. Changing just a few of your gardening habits, along with a few additions here and there, can make your little patch of land more eco-friendly.
To help you get started, here are nine simple ways to make your garden greener than ever.
1. Plant some trees
The ecological benefits associated with planting a tree are well known. Trees purify the air and create oxygen, while taking harmful carbon dioxide out of polluted urban environments. At a time when trees are under attack around the world, you can do your little bit to restore balance by planting a few trees of your own.
2. Use a rainwater barrel
Water is always a scarce resource — even in the UK. But the processing and transport of water also leaves behind a considerable carbon footprint. Save water by installing a water barrel in your garden to catch rainwater. While you won’t be able to drink it, the water you catch can be used to irrigate your entire garden.
3. Reduce the size of your lawn
The average lawn requires regular maintenance — which uses energy and a range of lawn management products. Every time you mow your lawn, you’re using energy. But by reducing grass coverage in your garden, you’ll use less energy and less water.
4. Use natural fertilisers and pesticides
Chemical based fertilisers and pesticides can kill wildlife and cause environmental damage if they find their way into watercourses. Always opt for natural and organic options if they’re available. For example, salt spray, eucalyptus oil and garlic can all be used as completely natural insect repellants. And there are several substitutes for chemical fertilisers, including coffee grounds, egg shells and wood ash.
5. Water manually
If you really want to be green, it’s time to get rid of your hoses and sprinklers. These garden tools are woefully wasteful with water. Sprinklers distribute water indiscriminately, while hoses dispense far more water than is really needed. Instead, you should be watering your lawn and plants manually with a watering can. If your lawn is particularly large, invest in a smart watering system that uses minimal amounts of water.
6. Create a compost heap
Using a compost heap provides you with a natural way to enrich your soil and keep all your plants, trees, and shrubs healthy. It also delivers the added benefit of reducing the amount of waste you send to landfill every week. Make sure all your waste food goes into the compost heap — your garden will be greener and more luscious as a result.
7. Use a reel mower
The only power you need to mow your lawn is your own. Electric and petrol mowers are notoriously expensive to run, and the fuel-powered versions also release CO2 into the environment. Yes, switching to a reel mower will require a little more elbow grease on your part, but it’s great exercise.
8. Grow your own food
The carbon footprint created by the production, processing and transport of our food is huge. However, you can help to reduce food-related CO2 emissions by growing your own food. Even if you dedicate a small area of your garden to growing potatoes and other root vegetables, you’ll save some money and do your little bit for the planet. One of the easiest fruits to grow is the cooking apple. Just one tree should give your several weeks of delicious pies and crumbles.
9. Attract bees
Bees are absolutely essential for a balanced and healthy ecosystem. The role these creatures play in the pollination of essential plant species simply can’t be underestimated, so anything you can do to make life easier for them should be embraced. Don’t use any chemical pesticides in your garden, and never disturb a beehive if you find one in your garden — call your local authority for advice. Give bees a happy home by filling your garden with flowers they love, which include wild lilac, lemon balm, the common yarrow, sunflowers and goldenrods.
If you’re a keen gardener, implementing these changes will help you to save money and do your little bit for the wider environment.