When it comes to being eco-friendly, there’s nothing better than planting your own garden and watching it grow. However, you might be surprised to learn that some gardening practices can harm the environment.
If you’re looking to create the most eco-friendly garden you can, you’ll be happy to hear that there are many ways to create a self-sustaining environment that reduces waste and relies on renewable energy. You’ll grow as a gardener, help the earth, and the wildlife will thank you.
Gardeners play a special role in lowering the pressure within our ecosystem. Studies show that eco-friendly gardening has made a huge impact on slowing climate change, cutting energy, and reducing waste.
If you find your garden needs a pick-me-up, use these ideas to go green with gardening!
Before we talk about the ways to tailor your garden to benefit the environment, let’s take a brief look at how some gardening practices can hurt it first.
There are many well-established garden practices that aren’t great and can lead to harming plants instead of benefiting them.
For example, “volcano mulch,” where mulch is piled high around the base of a tree, can lead to insects, disease, and animal damage at the collar of the tree. Keep this area dry and mulch-free.
Using chemical fertilizers and insecticides also harms our health and the environment. Also, Colony Collapse Disorder has been linked to the use of some pesticides as well.
Now that we’ve talked a bit about what gardening practices can hurt the environment, let’s talk about some eco-friendly gardening ideas.
1. Plant Food
The first step you take towards creating an eco-friendly garden should be to grow your own fruits and veggies. You don’t need a large area in order to do this, in fact, they can be grown in small spaces like apartment balconies.
As long as plants get plenty of sunlight and enough water, they’ll grow well. And when you take on growing your own food, you’ll have a fresh supply of organic food at hand. You reduce your own carbon footprint when you limit your commercially-grown produce consumption.
2. Welcome the Friendly Bugs
Whether you love or hate insects, the fact is that there are a lot of different bugs that can be beneficial to your plants. These bugs are great for eliminating harmful bugs without needing dangerous pesticides.
Ladybugs eat aphids, whiteflies, and Colorado potato beetles. You can attract them to your garden by planting dill, dandelion, fern-leaf yellow, and a basket of gold around your garden for them to eat.
Ground beetles prey on slugs, caterpillars, Colorado potato beetles, and cutworms and they love evening primrose, amaranthus, and clover.
If you want something that kills spider mites, aphids, thrips, and caterpillars, you want to invite minute pirate bugs to your garden by planting caraway, fennel, alfalfa, and spearmint.
Lacewings like aphids, whiteflies, leafhoppers, and mealybugs and they are attracted by dill, angelica, golden marguerite, and coriander.
These beneficial insects are better than chemical pesticides. You can save money and the environment by just cultivating a garden that welcomes the good guys.
3. Don’t Forget the Birds
Snails, slugs, caterpillars, and grubs are just some of the larger pests that can destroy a garden. Birds are great natural predators against these invasions.
Install bird feeders and nesting boxes to encourage birds to visit and eat.
If you’re hoping to attract some birds to hang out in your garden for a while, you’ll want to give them the basics: food, shelter, and water.
Give birds a place that they can hide or take cover from bad weather. If you keep your garden well groomed, you might want to consider letting a patch grow more naturally to attract more birds as well.
Birds need water to drink and to bathe in and they love moving water. Think about adding a bubbler to your bird bath. This is a great way to add a functional feature to your garden.
Also, keep a feeder that has high-quality seed blend around in the summer months. You want something that is going to appeal to chickadees, grosbeaks, cardinals, and sparrows while discouraging cowbirds. Another thing to consider is non-melting suet cakes that will bring woodpeckers and titmice to your garden.
4. Companion Planting
Beautiful, healthy gardens have a mix of plants. There are some plant combos that compliment each other and boost growth and vitality.
For example, Marigolds are supposed to help get rid of unwanted pests from plants. Tall plants can provide shade or the shorter, sun-sensitive ones. It’s always a good idea to keep in mind that there are some plants that flourish together and some that would do best apart.
Chives and Tomatoes
When you plant chives with your tomatoes, you can give them a little added protection. The smell of chives deters aphids from attacking tomatoes, which leaves them to grow nicely. The smell also doesn’t seep into tomatoes, so you won’t have to worry about contaminating the flavor and you’ll have to fresh ingredients to use in the kitchen.
Rose and Garlic
Galic is a natural rose pest repellent because of its scent. Garlic is a great cooking ingredient, but garlic chives sprout small purple flowers during the springtime. This is a beautiful compliment to the color of roses and other foliage while also being a pest repellant.
Carrot and Spring Onions
Carrots and spring onions both benefit each other. The smell of onion will keep carrot root fly from getting too close to the carrots. The smell of carrots will stop onion flies from getting too close to the onions. In this situation, everyone wins!
Cucumber, Radish, and Dill
When you plant radish with cucumber, you can minimize the likelihood that cucumber beetles will attack them. If you wanted some more protection, you can also plant dill near cucumbers to attract the good predators as well.
5. Compost Bins
You can buy your own soil from gardening stores, but compost is the most important supplement you can give your garden. The process of composting is an easy way to give gardens the nutrients they need to grow and it protects the environment.
When you add compost to your garden, you introduce new microorganisms that will aerate the soil, break down material, and provide a natural fertilizer.
You can start by collecting compostable ingredients like table scraps, coffee grounds, shredded paper, and weeds. Don’t compost meat, fish, or bones because they will attract pests. Once you’ve gathered your compost, spread the mix over a warm, sunny spot in the garden and when the conditions are right, it will encourage compost-making bugs to get to work. In six to nine months, you’ll have compost ready to use.
There are a lot of different ways to reuse the waste you create, but a big part of reducing waste is to reuse what you already have. Keep using old fencing until you cant anymore, use your veggie peelings and plant clippings for compost, and consider collecting rainwater for your garden.
Packaging like plastic bottles and wooden containers can all be used around the garden as well. You can use plastic bottles to protect seedlings or create makeshift watering cans.
7. Save Water
Maintaining a lush, green garden requires a lot of water. But it’s a resource that shouldn’t be wasted. You can preserve water in a lot of ways, like planting native plants that don’t require as much water as others.
Avoid overwatering at all costs because it depletes water resources and damages plants. Water your plants at a time when the sun won’t evaporate it and save yourself some effort.
If you can, invest in an eco-friendly watering system that suits the needs of your plants and the size of your garden. Store rainwater using a rainwater butt and use it during the dry season.
Also, reuse greywater that you collect from showers and kitchen sinks. As long as it doesn’t have harmful chemical products, this water is perfectly safe.
8. Consider Hydroponics
Hydroponic gardening is a method of growing plants without soil, using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent. Hydroponic gardening is good for the environment because it uses less land, less water, doesn’t cause as much land erosion, and doesn’t require as many pesticides.
Hydroponics can also be used everywhere. You can grow any vegetable in any season around the world.
9. Eco-Friendly Furniture
When you’re looking for outdoor furniture for your garden area, think eco-friendly. Look for items made from FSC sustainable wood or other natural materials. Make sure that they’re treated with as few toxic chemicals as possible and that they will last a long time.
Second-hand furniture is also a great idea. You can find these at second-hand shops and garage sales. Even if it’s not a complete set, a mix and matched look can give your garden a little extra personality.
10. Reel Mowing
If you can switch to a non-gas-powered reel mower. This little guy will save you money and emit less toxic gas into the air. It’s great exercise and it’s much less expensive than a gas mower. Even if you only use the reel mower every other time you mow your lawn, you’ll make a positive impact on the environment.
We hope these 10 tips for keeping an eco-friendly garden will inspire you to go green. You don’t have to go all out all at once, either. If you can’t commit to an entirely organic garden right off the bat, consider something small like container gardening and go from there.
If you’re looking for more information about saving the environment and going green, visit us today!