Gardening is such an awesome way to get closer to the Earth and the wonderful foods it can bountifully produce through our beloved garden plants. However, some farmers and gardeners have abandoned the all-natural way of doing things in favour of manmade nutrient mixes, fertilisers, pesticides, and other components that are the exact opposite of eco-friendly. To help you stay in the environmentally conscious crowd with your garden, we’ve provided the following brief steps you can take to garden in ecologically friendly manner:
1. Use a Riparian Buffer for Larger Gardens Near Water
While this is a method that is typically used by farms in the agricultural industry, it can also be environmentally beneficial for mid-sized to larger gardens that are planted along streams, creeks, rivers, lakes, springs and other natural sources of subsurface water. A riparian buffer is essentially a layer of vegetation that is strategically planted between the garden and the water source to prevent runoff from fertilisers, pesticides, minerals, and other by-products of the garden.
2. Incorporate Native Plants and Avoid Invasive Plant Species
By adding native plant species to your garden you’re promoting pollination and healthy vegetation in your area. Likewise, by avoiding invasive, non-native plant species you’re protecting the surrounding ecosystem from vegetative invaders that could offset wildlife in the region. If you absolutely can’t resist growing a particularly invasive species (i.e. – dandelion is highly invasive but it is also a great salad vegetable), then at least make an effort to contain the plants in an efficient greenhouse system.
3. Replace Grass Lawns with Artificial Grass, Bushes, Wildflowers, and Trees
Natural grass lawns require a lot of maintenance, which can of course lead to the usage of weed killers that are harmful for the environment. A more eco-friendly alternative would be to install some durable artificial grass turf (e.g. Grono) along with a few bushes, wildflower patches, and native trees. The artificial grass will keep you from having to dump toxic lawn treatments into the soil, while the addition of flowers, bushes, and trees, leaves (get a leaf vacuum for the winter) will welcome wildlife to your garden.
4. Invite the Birds and Ladybugs
While having a whole flock of birds swoop down on your plants might be the stereotypical thought process that comes to mind when you think of birds inhabiting your garden, birds can actually be great pest control aids. Our flying friends love to eat snails, slugs, caterpillars, grubs, and other little critters that will eat through your garden like a buffet. Put out a birdhouse and birdbath and watch those leaf-eating bugs run for the hills. Likewise, ladybugs and green lacewings are known to eat aphids, so consider creating a hospitable environment for the “friendly bugs” as well.
Gardening is Eco-Friendly in Itself
Before you get too caught up in neutralising the carbon footprint of your garden, just remember that the act of gardening by itself is eco-friendly, especially if you’re using organic, sustainable practices. Still, if you start with the suggestions above you and you’ll be well on your way to growing the garden of your dreams without polluting the environment.