Is your garden “green”? According to TheFragrantGarden.com, a sustainable (or green) garden is one that conserves resources. Gardening and landscaping often carelessly use up precious resources, such as water. If the landscape is not planned out properly, even time, labour and energy can be wasted. A well-planned sustainable landscape should ideally co-exist with the surrounding environment and not be an isolated oasis (GreenGardener.org). A green garden shouldn’t use any non-renewable resources and it should have a minimal environmental impact (Wikipedia). Here are three tips to help you make your landscaping more eco-friendly.
1. Choose plants well
One of the most important aspects of a green garden is that water consumption is kept to an absolute minimum. TheFragrantGarden.com suggests that you group your plants together according to how much water they use. For example, a vegetable garden will need much more water than a patch of shrubs. According to TheFragrantGarden.com, you should also group your plants together according to their microclimate needs; which are based on sun, wind, shade and soil.
When planting, try to space the seedlings out well, and bear in mind that they will grow into much larger plants. If plants have more space, they thrive better and there is less water absorption. Try to also use organic pest control and plant a variety of non-invasive, indigenous plants that will attract various birds and beneficial insects. According to GreenGardener.org, plant diversity will help with pollination and pest control.
2. Go easy on the water
According to TheFragrantGarden.com, drip irrigation is the only way to go, as there is minimal water wastage with this system. Ideally, you should have separate irrigation valves for each type of plant, which allows for individual scheduling. TheFragrantGarden.com suggests that you should check the system regularly, so that there are no leaks. You should also try to collect natural rainfall, as this is an excellent way to use recycled water. GreenGardener.org suggests that you can even safely retain landscaping water to recharge ground water, which you can use for future watering!
3. Use compost
An alarming fact is that 30-50% of US landfill is filled with green waste (GreenGardener.org). This waste could be put to much better use in your landscaping as compost, as it eliminates the need for fertilizer, and it also results in healthier, organic and disease-free plants. TheFragrantGarden.com suggests that you add mulching into the mix, as this slows evaporation and erosion, and adds valuable nutrients to the soil. Be warned though: it can take up to ten years for your soil to reach its peak organic quality! (Colorado State University)
It’s relatively easy to have an eco-friendly landscape design. All it takes is some planning, good plant selection, an effective water system and building up composting. A sustainable landscape is filled with plant diversity and lacks artificial chemicals. By implementing these three steps, you’ll be reducing your environmental impact and your garden will truly be “green”.
Ang Lloyd is a freelance writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She writes on a variety of topics ranging from education to environmental issues, such as online sustainable design courses in Australia. Photo by National Garden Clubs