It’s important to do our part to conserve energy and keep our planet safe. While gardening, it’s easy to incorporate practices that aren’t inherently sustainable. You might be using an absurd amount of water, or waste good materials that could have been composted. Luckily, we’ve got some tips to help you create a sustainable garden.
But what exactly does sustainable gardening mean?
What Is Sustainable Gardening?
While people typically think of gardening as inherently sustainable, there’s always a way to make your gardening process more eco-friendly. For example, if you use chemical pesticides too much, you’re harming the environment around you as well as your own health.
Sustainable gardening is essentially the practice of conserving resources and arranging your garden in a mindful way to have the best impact on the environment possible.
Related: 7 Reasons To Grow Your Own Garden
To help you get started, here are some of our favorite eco-friendly gardening ideas.
1. Use Natural Roundup Alternatives
Pesticides that contain glyphosate have been linked to health issues in humans and animals alike. Additionally, they can contaminate vegetation and soil. While they will kill insects, they also might harm local birds, fish and other plants.
For this reason, if possible, it’s best to avoid pesticides and herbicides such as Roundup and Paraquat. Instead, there are natural weed killing methods you can employ to keep your garden healthy.
For example, you could opt to pull out weeds by hand instead of using pesticides. When you pull a weed out by its roots, you can prevent it from growing back and don’t have to harm any of the non-target plants nearby.
Another natural pesticide alternative is to use boiling water to kill target weeds. Just make sure to be careful not to burn yourself while you pour the boiling water on your unwanted plants.
Keep in mind, the water will not prevent the plant from growing back. It will only kill parts of the plant it physically touches, so if the roots stay intact, the weed will return.
2. Protect Crops With Nets
Using nets to protect your crops from insects is another way to keep your garden healthy without having to use artificial pesticides or herbicides. Simply make sure that when you apply the netting, there aren’t any gaps left open for pesky intruders to enter with.
Try to apply your insect nets early in the season so you don’t accidentally trap insects with your plants. It’s a good idea to cover your crops with nets immediately after they sprout or are transplanted.
Once your plants start to flower, you can remove the netting to allow for pollination.
Collect grass clippings, scraps of fruit, dried leaves and more to build a compost pile. You can then use your compost to nourish your soil for a healthy garden. Whereas fertilizers need to be applied carefully at the right moment, you can use compost on your soil at any time.
4. Be Mindful of the Weather
Be mindful about the plants you choose to grow and how they will gel with the weather local to your region. For example, if you live in a wet, cold area with lots of rain, it might not be the best decision to plant cacti in your yard.
Weather can be unpredictable at times and result in your crops dying if you don’t choose them properly. So keep your finger on the pulse as it relates to changing weather conditions and adapt accordingly.
5. Prioritize Native Plants
When you choose to nourish foreign plants in your garden, it could lead to them either not surviving or just not supporting the local wildlife in the same capacity that a native plant could. Choosing the right plants also means less maintenance. When a plant can naturally survive in an area, you don’t have to stress as much about keeping it alive.
Native plants are also more likely to support the wildlife around you. Typically, they also incorporate natural defenses to protect from disease and pests. This may help you cut down on your use of pesticidal strategies.
6. Plant a Dry Garden
Dry gardens are some of the most sustainable gardens around. They don’t rely much on water and generally require less weeding, mowing and pesticides.
To successfully plant a dry garden, however, you need to make sure your environment is appropriate. Research your local rainfall, the soil type found in your yard and how much sun your space receives.
If it turns out that a dry garden is appropriate for your space, it can be an aesthetic and sustainable addition to your yard.
7. Use Solar Energy
There’s no energy more abundant and sustainable than solar energy. Investing in solar panels for your yard can help you power your garden and your home while cutting back on electricity and utility costs.
8. Save Your Seeds
Don’t be afraid to save your plants’ seeds so you can plant them again next year. It isn’t always necessary to buy new seeds somewhere else when you can just save them from your backyard.
9. Nourish Local Birds
Support your local birds by hanging bird feeders and putting out food. You might even build bird feeders with upcycled materials to maximize sustainability.
Feeding birds can be particularly helpful in the winter when food is more scarce. Just remember not to feed bread to birds. Bread is almost useless in terms of keeping birds nourished, but keeps them full so they don’t know they need to forage more to survive.
Do your research on high quality bird seed and other foods to help your local birds survive and thrive.
10. Grow Your Own Food
Growing your own fruits and vegetables is a satisfying way to keep yourself nourished while helping the environment and keeping your garden looking beautiful.
When you buy produce at the store, it results in more waste. Instead, growing your own food allows you to conserve resources and feed yourself with fresh food likely involving less pesticides than the store bought alternative.
There’s also the added benefit of saving money when you grow your own food. Nothing tastes better than a meal you cultivated yourself.
11. Upcycle Everything
You don’t need to be a millionaire to fund an eco-friendly home and garden. In fact, you can often upcycle old items to help cultivate a beautiful home for plants.
For example, you may use tin-cans to house small plants, or use old lamp shades to make hanging planters.
Upcycling wherever possible helps you reduce waste and save money. Instead of hauling that old patio furniture to the dump, it can be repurposed to beautify your garden.
This has the added bonus of giving you a creative outlet. Once you start upcycling, you’ll find it can be fun to find new opportunities to transform your space.
The more you educate yourself on sustainability, the better impact you can have on the environment and the beings that live there. Follow our eco-friendly tips above to make a better impact on Mother Earth. For more pesticide alternatives and eco-friendly gardening ideas, check out the infographic below.