Creating a garden is one of life’s great recreational pleasures. A good garden will complement nature and nourish our fragile environment. Sustainable living is an important practice that applies to the domestic garden more than anywhere else.
Grow your Own
Home grown organic fruit and vegetables produced without pesticides and chemical fertilizers taste immeasurably better and arrive direct to your table without using environmentally harmful air miles. Only plant what you intend to eat and avoid the overproduction practices adopted by industrial agriculture. Use natural organic nutrients to feed your growing plants and nurture them with your own homemade compost.
Prevent your kitchen waste being diverted to landfill with a home composting system. This can be as easy or as complicated as you wish, depending on the space and budget you have to play with. Food and kitchen waste left to rot in municipal landfill sites are unable to break down naturally due to light and air starvation and will consequently give off methane, a mixture of carbon and nitrogen. Compost made from kitchen and garden waste will break down naturally to create a rich organic compound for improving your soil while acting as a mulch barrier to suppress weeds naturally.
Trees play a crucial role in balancing the oxygen and carbon content of our atmosphere. Through aspiration, trees release oxygen from the air while absorbing and locking in carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. City planted trees will actively process polluted air, acting on harmful airborne particles and noxious chemicals. Any trees are suitable, from ornamental shrubs to ash, alder, beech and oak, they are all indigenous and will grow in most gardens, creating a show of colour for many years to come. Fruit trees are a pleasure to cultivate, responding to your care with an annual bounty of delicious produce.
Use your Hands
Cut back on the use of power tools and fossil fuels by using traditional gardening equipment wherever you can and reap the health benefits of gardening. You don’t need to use a leaf blower when a garden rake is more than capable, while taking hand shears to an unruly hedge is a great cardiovascular exercise that you may come to appreciate. Avoid digging and rotovating compacted plots by growing in raised beds. Raised beds improve access to your plants, great if you have limited or restricted mobility, and will help with soil drainage and pest control. Don’t feel you have to mow your lawn every week, let it grow once in a while to let bee friendly flowers and bird seeds develop.
Make the Most of Sustainable Materials
Avoid using plastic in your garden when there is a renewable alternative. It is often quick and easy to opt for a cheap plastic accessory for the garden but if you shop around and consider similar items made from wood, steel or stone you will find they will perform the task adequately and for a lot longer. Plastic products are generally cheaper to buy but they will deteriorate over time if left outdoors. Wood, steel and stone will age well, giving a much more naturalistic feel to your garden. Recycled and upcycled products are a staple of many carefully curated gardens.
Work with a Group
Gardeners are passionate about their hobby and will gladly share their knowledge with anyone who cares to ask. Seek out like minded gardeners who are interested in sustainable gardening, arrange to meet up regularly and compare notes. Making contact with a local support group will help share the effort and bring a valuable supply of advice, guidance and enthusiasm. Volunteer with youth groups to reinforce the need to practice sustainable gardening while sowing the seeds for future generations.
Make a Bee Sanctuary
Plant swaiths of colourful bulbs and flowers to attract solitary and swarming bees to your garden. Help to rebuild their colonies with nectar rich plants, while benefitting from their dutiful dedication to pollination. Leave dead timber and garden waste in piles for them to nest in.
Whether in the suburbs or the inner city, a domestic garden is a beautiful place that can be enjoyed by anyone. Help to build on that natural beauty by adopting sustainable practices that nourish nature and will not damage our fragile eco-system.