10 things gardeners can do to become more sustainable
Gardening is a great way to get exercise, enjoy the outdoors, and grow your own food. If you're looking to make your gardening more sustainable, here are 10 tips to get you started:
Native plants are adapted to our local climate and soil conditions, so they’re easy to establish and more likely to attract beneficial insects and birds to your garden, leading to increased biodiversity.
Composting is a great way to reduce your waste and improve the fertility of your soil. Diverse micro-biomes are the backbone of soil fertility, leading to healthier, disease resistant plants and more nutrient-dense foods. Make you own soil improver from kitchen scraps, lawn cuttings and autumn leaf fall. See our handy guide here for more information:
Rainwater is the preferred water type for many plants as the tap water in many areas contains high amounts of calcium. This is especially important for acid-soil loving plants, such as Azalea, Camellia, and Rhododendron.
With a little thought, your garden can also be structured to slow the movement of rainwater as it passes through it, which will help replenish the local water table and help keep your plants alive longer during hot weather. Find out more here:
Mulch is the gold in your garden. It's a layer of organic material that is applied thickly to open soil to provide protection, add nutrients, and encourage the beneficial soil life for you garden to bloom.
By applying straw, compost, composted bark, or leaf mould to bare soil, you'll also be protecting it from the damaging effects of heavy rain and the sun's ultra-violet light, especially on lighter, sandy soils.
Growing your own food is a great way to reduce your reliance on shops, reduce your food miles and eat healthier. It’s also an easy and rewarding way to get into gardening and doesn't have to take up a lot of room. Smaller spaces tend to be far more bountiful per square meter than larger ones, especially if you think about growing vertically. To help kick start your kitchen garden, check out our GYO guides:
Whilst homemade compost will be full of nutrients and minerals, it can be supplemented with homemade fertilisers made from plant or animal materials.
Good examples are making a concentrated liquid compost tea from Comfrey leaves which can be diluted and applied to more mature plants as a fantastic tonic or creating a worm farm which will turn kitchen waste into a nutrient rich concentrated liquid and compost.
There are many natural ways to control pests, such as growing plants attractive to beneficial insects or using row covers and netting to dissuade larger animals. If you think of your garden as an ecosystem, then increasing biodiversity will also help create balance between pests and predators. Whatever approach you take, using natural methods is much better for the environment and your plants, especially if growing your own food.
The saying “prevention is better than cure” applies here as regular cleaning of greenhouses and other growing structures will help prevent the build-up of pests and diseases. Cutting tools should also be cleaned regularly to help prevent the accidental spread of plant viruses.
Many plants grow well together, allowing you to take advantage of their beneficial relationships. Companion plants attract beneficial insects, improve pollination, deter pests, and increase disease resistance, leading to healthier plants and better harvests.
Pots and containers usually have many years of life in them and can easily be reused. Other objects can be upcycled into plant containers too, adding character to your garden. When reusing pots, always give them a good clean first.
By following these tips, you can make your gardening more sustainable and help protect the environment.