These days, being green fingered is about more than just having a love for gardening. In order to enjoy their garden fully, many people are turning to more sustainable practices. Climate change has had a huge effect on our gardening practices. We now have 4 water butts attached to our house and greenhouse, in order to save water. Of course with this year’s summer, we probably didn’t need to worry too much!
Saving as much water as possible is not just better for the planet but it will save you a vast amount of money on your water bill, especially if you are on a water meter like us. Other ways to reduce your water usage include the use of mulches on the ground, particularly around extra thirsty plants. You could use wood chip, bark or gravel. Always try to water in the early morning or in the evening. Any water applied in the middle of a hot day will simply evaporate. Try to keep on top of your weeding – if you water a flowerbed that is full of weeds then the weeds will get a good proportion of the water that was meant for your plants.
Plant according to the conditions of your garden. If you have a really hot, well drained bed don’t plant it with things that like to be kept moist – you’ll just be constantly trying to keep them watered.
Other ways to be a green gardener include recycling. Try to re-use whatever you can in the garden rather than throw things away and buy new. If you dig a hole in your garden for a pond, try to keep that earth to use elsewhere rather than dispose of it. Compost as much as you possibly can. This can include garden waste and vegetable peelings, grass cuttings, tea bags and paper. It’s best to get a good mix of each of these items rather than just having say, mostly grass cuttings. This will speed up the decomposition process.
If you are introducing wooden features into the garden – maybe new decking or fencing, try to source the wood from sustainable sources.
Encouraging natural predators into your garden will reduce your need to use pesticides. Encourage frogs and hedgehogs into your garden by leaving some piles of leaves and small logs in discreet places for them to make their homes. Use plants to attract wildlife – berries, fruits and seeds will attract birds and those with nectar and pollen will also attract butterflies, bees and other types of insects.
Here are a few examples of plants which are good for attracting wildlife
- Dog rose – finches enjoy their hips
- Primrose – when they flower in spring, they produce nectar and finches are attracted to their seeds
- Marigold – nectar for insects and a good choice if combined with a vegetable patch
- Lavender – smells great and bees love the flowers, finches love the seeds
- Honeysuckle – another great fragrance, both birds and insects are drawn to the nectar and berries are an additional food source for birds and small mammals
- Michaelmas Daisy – their flowers attract butterflies
- Ivy – its flowers provide nectar for insects and berries for the birds plus, it also offers good shelter
Happy gardening! Let’s hope we have the weather to enjoy our gardens in 2009!