Sustainable gardening

Sustainable gardening is all about making the most of what you have, working with the natural environment and bringing a diversity of vegetables and flowers into your patch, writes Sarah Divall.

sustainable gardening

As I sit writing this piece on sustainable gardening, I’m sitting looking out on my own pint-sized urban garden which over the last year has been the workshop for my first steps into growing. 

According to the Horticultural Trade Association almost 3 million new gardeners have sprung up over lockdown, picking up their trowels to tend their gardens and balconies for the first time.

Whether you’re a veteran gardener or are nursing your first tomato plants, there’s lots that you can do in the garden to help attract wildlife and protect the natural environment and the planet. 

Keep it wild

Nature loves a bit of mess and wildlife will thrive in unmanaged spaces which are left to their own devices. Letting your lawn grow out, keeping a wild patch in your garden and keeping a pile of wood and leaves in a quiet corner will all provide much needed habitats and food for animals nestling in your garden. 

Choose the right plants for sustainable gardening

Choosing plants that are right for your space will not only mean less work for you, but will also protect the environment. Try and choose native species that grow well without the use of chemicals and won’t need heavy watering in the summer. As temperatures get hotter, particularly in the south of England, opting for drought resistant plants like lavender will save you money and reduce pressure on the water supply. If you do have a thirsty garden why not consider installing a water butt to make the most of rainwater?

Rain garden

Speaking of rainwater, if you have enough space, consider planting a rain garden. A rain garden makes use of the run-off from roofs, buildings and patios by placing thirsty plants directly underneath them. This means in heavy weather water goes back into the soil instead of being diverted into storm drains and having to be processed and returned to your tap which is a very energy-intensive process. 

natural compost - sustainable gardening
Kitchen scraps are perfect for natural compost

Get composting  

Composting is one of the best things you can do for the environment as you work towards sustainable gardening. As well as creating a natural fertiliser for your garden, you’ll be reducing the amount of food waste going to landfill and creating a home for countless insects and invertebrates. The best thing is you don’t need a huge amount of space to compost. If you have a balcony you could keep a worm bin which are pretty small and will still turn your kitchen scraps into compost. If you have a bigger space, use a compost bin or build your own out of old timber. 

Choose peat-free compost

Peat has been loved by gardeners for years as an effective and cheap method of enriching their soil. However peat bogs in the UK sink as much carbon as all of Europe’s forests and peat use emits 400,000 tonnes of carbon every year. To create peat for gardening, bogs are drained and the peat at the bottom is collected. By digging up peat bogs we not only release more carbon into the atmosphere but lose the unique biodiversity of rare birds, butterflies and plants which call it their home. It’s much harder to restore a peat bog than to replant a forest so when choosing soil, opt for peat-free options which are readily available in most stores. 

Get creative with pots and decorations 

Most gardeners I know never throw anything away.  To make your garden sustainable, try to reuse the things you already have and keep hold of those plastic pots for the spring.  When looking for furniture, planters or decorations see what you can build yourself, or buy second hand, instead of buying new.  

Sustainable gardening is all about making the most of what you have, working with the natural environment and bringing a diversity of vegetables and flowers into your patch. As well as making your garden or balcony beautiful, it should make it easier to maintain and save you some money! 

To get more sustainable tips on how you can get more wildlife into your garden and tips on greener living why not head to our page @HelloHubbub on instagram. 

For more content like this visit our Gardening channel.

Last modified: June 2, 2021

Written by 6:06 pm Gardening

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