Sustainability is a hot topic that has encouraged many of us to overhaul our lifestyles to help protect the environment. This includes how we care for our gardens because, when done properly, this practice can help nourish soil, create safe havens for vulnerable wildlife, and give plants the best possible chance of thriving.
While there are some sustainable changes that have an immediate effect, others may require time and patience. However, this is a small price to pay when such changes will have significant long-term environmental benefits. Here we look at some ways you can create a sustainable garden by reducing your carbon footprint, saving water and reusing products.
Grow your own fruit and vegetables
Growing your own fruit and vegetables in your garden has a number of benefits, both for you and the environment. Firstly, you’ll be eating nutritious, chemical-free food that goes straight from garden to plate. In doing so, you’ll be eliminating the carbon emissions created as a result of the food’s transportation, and you’ll also negate the need for plastic packaging.
Cultivating your own produce is simple with the help of our growing kits and accessories that allow you to nurture tomatoes, salad leaves, sweetcorn and more. You can also use grow bags to grow your own strawberries and potatoes. With so many different options, your vegetable beds will be thriving.
Collect rainwater for reuse
We often take water for granted seeing as it’s so readily available in first world countries, and simple tasks like watering the garden can lead to overuse. Sprinklers, for example, can exhaust as much water in an hour as a family of four uses in a day.
To make better use of your water sources, rain barrels and collection systems can be used to collect rainwater. Rainwater can be diverted through a downpipe which connects to a water butt. These rainwater systems are easy-to-fit, effective and affordable. You can collect water from various places, including your roof, garage and greenhouse, as long as you have a diverter and filter. Store this in a water butt with a tap for easy access when you need to water your plants. However, avoid pouring rainwater around seedlings as the risk of fungal plant disease is higher and will affect how fast your seeds grow.
Eliminate chemical pesticides
Pesticides are great for protecting your plants but can also have negative consequences on the environment and our own health. The harmful chemicals are linked to a range of health issues, such as headaches, nausea and more serious problems like cancer and reproductive issues. Not only are they damaging to humans, but also to insect species, soil microorganisms and worms that naturally reduce pests and maintain soil health.
Switching to natural pesticides is the best solution as chemical-free soil is healthier, helps roots grow deeper and reduces fertiliser runoff (where chemicals escape from fertiliser, damage the soil and enter water systems). However, if you do need to use fertiliser, opt for a natural organic type which is often derived from plant or animal matter.
Composting involves collecting the organic matter from your home and garden, including food waste, leaves and twigs, and putting it all into a compost pile. Not only does this reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, but composting also creates a healthy, nutrient-dense fertiliser to enrich your soil. It works by improving soil structure, maintaining moisture levels and keeping its PH balance in check, providing a healthy foundation for growing plants, fruit and vegetables.
To get started, you need a recyclable compost bin, bag or tumbler to deposit waste in. Then, turn the contents weekly using either a shovel or a compost aeration tool. This introduces oxygen which enables the organic matter to break down.
Plant native plants
Select local, seasonal plants that are well-suited to the conditions of your garden. These will grow more healthily, unlike imported plants that have a higher chance of carrying exotic pests and diseases. For instance, considering the UK’s unpredictable weather, hardwearing plants such as hawthorn, foxglove and corn marigold are more likely to thrive. Those native to your area will have naturally adapted to your environment and require less maintenance. They also encourage native biodiversity, providing food and shelter for wildlife, as well as protecting water quality as native plants reduce soil erosion, remove excessive nutrients and limit runoff.
When buying plants, try purchasing from reputable UK suppliers in accordance with the plant health regulations. These regulations prohibit the importation of plants from outside the EU which may host or carry plant pests to prevent diseases from seriously damaging crops and plants. By choosing native plants, you’ll create a sustainable garden and provide nectar for your garden’s pollinators, like bees and butterflies.