An eco-friendly garden is just gardening with the environment in mind. This involves making decisions based on sustainability and positively impacting the environment.
This blog post offers a comprehensive guide to creating a sustainable, eco-friendly garden. Learn how to design a garden that is both beautiful and environmentally friendly, and discover tips and tricks for gardening while keeping the planet, climate change, and wildlife in mind.
Environmentally-friendly gardening: 8 top tips
Caring about plants is the first step for an eco-friendly garden. Luckily, most gardeners love plants, so they’ve already got this part handled. Recently we’ve been facing a lot of habitat and biodiversity loss, which is bad for the plants, the animals, the planet, and us.
“Now more than ever, taking care of our planet is so important, and that can start in our gardens” – Chris Bonnett, owner of Gardening Express. Whether you have a garden, balcony, patio, or just a windowsill to work with, here are our top tips for gardening for the environment.
1. Go native
Native plants are those that grow naturally in an area without being introduced by humans. These tend to be the most environmentally friendly plants for you to grow for a variety of reasons.
Firstly, they’re great for wildlife; native plants provide the best natural habitats for lots of different birds, animals, and beneficial insects. They are also a great food source for our beloved birds, bees, and butterflies, which will help to boost the biodiversity in your area. Creatures that occur naturally in an area will make the most use of the plants that naturally occur there.
Also, native plants tend to be more resistant to pests than non-native ones. This means it will be easier to keep them healthy, and you won’t have to use as many resources to keep them pest-free.
2. Make the most of your water
Conserving your water is an essential part of cultivating an eco-friendly garden. Our population has been increasing over the last few decades. More people means more demand for clean water, which puts a strain on both people and the planet. You can help with this by reducing how much water you use for your garden.
To reduce how much water you use, you can try:
- Mulching – click here for a quick guide!
- Planting drought-tolerant plants – here’s our list to get you started
- Avoiding overwatering
Another way to make the most of your water is by collecting rainwater and using it for your garden. It’s free, readily available, and great for your plants.
3. Plant for pollinators
Pollinators really do make the world go round, and you could help them do it! Around 8/10 flowering plants need pollinators to keep reproducing, so we would be in trouble without them. If we don’t have enough pollinators doing their jobs, we risk losses in our gardens, food production, and biodiversity.
Bees are one of the most well-known pollinators in the UK, but they have seen a concerning decline here in recent years. Luckily, you can help them out. There are loads of plants you could use to attract them to your garden and keep them happily buzzing around. For example, bees love:
Butterflies are another important pollinator to support as they’ve also recently declined in the UK. These are some plants you could grow to support them:
Growing pollinator-friendly plants is great not only for pollinators but also for you! You get to see a whole range of bees and butterflies making the most of your garden.
4. Garden organically
Organic gardening just means using as few chemicals as possible. This is a key part of growing a sustainable garden. You can avoid using chemicals in your garden in many ways, such as making your own bug sprays and compost.
Another great way to avoid using too many chemicals is to include pest and disease-resistant plants in your garden. Some plants are well-adapted to resist common garden pests and diseases, so they will demand less help from you which can save on your chemical use. Here are some examples of pest-resistant plants:
Organic gardening also involves healthy, fertile soils. Adding organic materials such as compost to your soil will help with your organic, eco-friendly garden.
5. Plant a tree
Trees in all shapes and sizes could be incorporated into whatever outdoor space you’re working with. Trees are excellent at absorbing carbon dioxide, the most famous greenhouse gas. They also provide the added benefit of shade to sit in (if they’re tall enough) or to help out your shade-loving plants, as well as reduced noise pollution.
Planting trees – especially native ones – is a great way of supporting the wildlife in your garden by giving them food (e.g. fruits and nuts) and shelter. If your tree is deciduous (losing its leaves for the winter), you’ll likely get some gorgeous autumn colour and natural mulch from the fallen leaves.
6. Grow your own food
Growing your own food is a great way to add some diversity to your garden. It also helps you live in a more self-sustaining way! There are loads of types of fruit and vegetables that you can grow in your garden. Even if you don’t have a garden, lots of these plants can still be grown on balconies, patios, and windowsills.
Vegetables and herbs can be really easy to grow and excellent to cook with. Growing fruit gives you a whole range of options! You could eat it raw, bake it into tasty treats, or make jams and preserves. Growing your own food is also great for community spirit if you feel like sharing with your neighbours.
7. Reduce waste
It’s part of the classic trio: reduce, reuse, recycle. Minimising your garden waste means that less of it will go to landfill, where it can release a lot of methane – one of the greenhouse gases associated with global warming. Some examples of uses for your garden waste are:
- Small animal homes
- Leaf mould
‘Reuse’ is another one of the crucial three R’s: instead of throwing away plastic pots once you’ve moved plants out of them, keep hold of them! They could come in handy for potting on another plant or using as a scoop in your soil mix.
There are also ways to reduce how much garden waste you produce in the first place. It’s important to be selective with your planting, choosing the right plants for your space and ensuring they all have enough room to grow.
8. Design sustainably
How you put your garden together is just as important as the plants you put in it. Making careful, responsible design choices can help you towards your sustainable garden.
Here are a few ways you can sustainably design your garden:
- Make the most of the space you have
- Use recycled and repurposed materials in your structures
- Xeriscape (or design your garden with minimal need for watering)
Designing your garden is a different process for everyone, but making sustainable choices will help you in your journey to an eco-friendly garden.
Hopefully, this blog post has given you a good starting point for creating an eco-friendly garden. Lots of the things in this post are discussed in more detail in our other articles, so be sure to check out the ‘Gardening for the Environment’ section on our website!