As a gardener, you may feel you’re doing your bit for the environment by cultivating your own little patch of nature. But have you ever considered how eco-friendly your garden is? Whether it’s maintenance tasks such as watering and mowing the lawn, using harmful sprays and chemicals, or removing plants and trees, our basic gardening routines can have a harmful effect on the environment without us even realising.
The good news is that not only are there loads of changes you can make to reduce your carbon footprint - many of them relatively small, easy and satisfying, too.
If you’re new to eco-friendly gardening, it helps to know exactly what you’re trying to achieve, so you can start to apply it to habits you may not have thought twice about. To be greener, try to do one of two things: either reduce greenhouse gases that may be produced as a result of your gardening, or reduce the effects of global warming by encouraging carbon dioxide absorption (which is done by soils, trees and all those lovely plants you’ve been growing).
Take a look at our list below for inspiration - once you’ve got going, you may start to really enjoy thinking of other fixes and changes you could add. Happy eco-gardening!
Turn waste into free compost
If you’re not already making your own compost, this is not only a great way to be greener, but also a handy way of getting rid of ‘natural litter’ - fallen leaves, weeds, and peelings and vegetable scraps from the kitchen too. Keep it in a large bin with a lid throughout the year and, come springtime, you should have plenty of nutritious soil to use in your garden. There are a couple of things to learn about doing this right, so take a look online before starting to make sure you’re getting the best from your compost.
The birds and the bees
There are so many benefits to attracting wildlife to your garden, from pollinating wildflowers, to attracting helpful insects for our plants, to providing vital food and shelter for our bird and bee communities to survive, particularly in the winter. Make sure your garden is a friendly place for them by keeping places for them to hide, supplying food, and making sure any chemicals you’re using don’t kill off any insects that keep your garden thriving.
Get your watering right
In times of high demand, up to a whopping 70% of the UK’s water supply can be used on gardening. Fortunately, there’s a huge range of ways to use less water in the garden, including rainwater butts, reusing water from your house, or installing an eco-friendly watering system (clue: it’s not a hosepipe!). The easiest way? Simply make sure you’re watering the right amount. If you feel like you may be over-watering, do some research on what’s right for your particular set-up. Your lawn and plants will benefit too!
Reduce, reuse, recycle
If you’re environmentally conscious in other areas of your life, the same principles apply to the garden, and remembering these three words is a good way of thinking creatively about what you may do out of habit. Reducing electricity is a great place to start - this could be in making sure you’re using a modern, energy-efficient lawnmower, or switching your lights or water features to solar-powered ones.
Happily, planting beautiful trees is hands-down one of the best things you can do for the environment, as they drink in the carbon from greenhouse gases. If your garden’s big enough, consider planting a tree as your own personal monument to helping the planet; you’ll also get the satisfaction of watching it grow.