From window baskets to immaculately manicured formal flower beds, gardens can offer so much joy and reward to their owners. For those that love to grow, there’s something special about seeing your first seedlings pop up, picking the food you’ve created, or simply sitting back and enjoying the flowers.
But whilst Mother Nature is essential for a thriving garden, she does sometimes need some human help in residential spaces. Working with nature is key to a successful garden, which means thinking about being eco-friendly in the way that you protect and nurture your space. Here, we take a look at some of the things that you need to consider to help you enjoy your garden in a sustainable way.
DITCH THE PEAT
Peatlands are a vital part of our ecosystem. They can be seen across the world in the form of bogs and moors, and are created from plant material that is partially decomposed, mixed with an excess amount of rainwater. They are excellent at storing carbon – in fact, they’re the largest naturally occurring land-based carbon store – which is vital in tackling climate change.
Additionally, they help control flooding, as they can hold up to 20 times their own weight in water, and support many unique species. Unfortunately, this level of water retention is also a trait that’s attractive to amateur gardeners, as it means that their plants don’t dry out, and retain their nutrients. This has led to over-farming of peat and destruction of these valuable natural ecosystems.
As a result, the UK Government is banning peat compost from 2024, but you can do your bit by ensuring that you only buy peat-free at your local garden centre.
ORGANIC PEST CONTROL
It’s nature’s way that not all plants survive. They are valuable food for slugs and snails, which in turn feed birds and frogs, so everything is part of the wider circle of life. However, it can be quite disheartening for keen gardeners to come out one morning and find that all of their carefully curated crop has become a midnight snack.
Pest control solutions are a way of keeping certain less favourable elements of nature at bay for a short period of time. Of course, there are chemical solutions available on the market, but they can be harmful to the wider balance of your garden, and they’re not particularly respectful to nature. Whilst you might get pristine plants, your garden won’t necessarily be better for it.
Organic pesticides and pest control solutions, whether homemade or bought, are a good way of minimising pest damage within your garden without ruining the delicate balance of nature. They do take more work than simply sprinkling slug pellets, but your garden will be grateful for the extra effort.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PLANTS FOR YOUR GARDEN
Not all gardens are created equal. Whilst you might long for tropical plants or a long period of flowers, this might be a little tricky if you live in a cooler climate. Additionally, you might want to grow succulent plants that love a dry environment, but you live in a country where there’s several rainy months per year.
There’s nearly always an artificial solution to help you keep the plants you want alive, but doing so comes at a cost. Heaters, special winter wrap and water diversion systems all require energy and resources to create, and ultimately it will always be a battle for you to keep these plants happy. Instead, try leaning into the garden that you have, and learn about which plants suit your soil and environment. The plants will be healthier, and you’ll be rewarded with better results.
As well as being pretty to look at, the bees and butterflies in your garden have an important role as pollinators. They can also help you in your mission to reduce pesticides, as they often eat the small bugs that you’re trying to get rid of.
In order to keep your animal visitors happy, consider planting a section of flowers and grasses to support them. Garden centres tend to have a specific label or section which shows the seeds and bulbs that are pollinator-friendly, so grab some next time you’re there and know that you’re supporting the wildlife that helps your garden to thrive.
Guest Contributor: Bethany Tomlyn