The first thing you need to decide on, if you’re considering starting your own garden, is what kind of garden you want. Is it a vegetable, a flower or an herb garden? There are some pros and cons to each of them, so you should first look into that.
When it comes to vegetable gardens, they generally require high maintenance. You have to replant them every year because most of them are annuals and will not recover if neglected. Flowers and herbs, on the other hand, are more durable and easier to maintain.
When it comes to the sustainable aspect of your garden, there are several things to consider:
- Choosing native and drought resistant plants
- Using organic material and methods where and when possible, especially when it comes to the fertilizer
- Using as much natural energy and resources as possible
- Conserving water and energy by finding the right design.
You should also be ready to spend quality time in your garden, because taking care of it is no casual task, at least not in the beginning. Maintenance is the key if you want your garden to last and grow. Work in it regularly, learn the rhythm of your plants, stay ahead of problems and enjoy the fruits of your work.
Now let’s create a garden
Place your garden and choose your plants
First of all, you should choose a place for your garden, preferably with enough sun exposure and access to water. The area should be suitable for growing healthy and strong plants, which includes enough sunlight and quality soil.
Choose native and drought-resistant plants because they will be better suited to the soil in your area and to the climate. This means you will spend less energy and resources in maintaining them.
Be sure to design your garden according to the needs of your plants, making sure the ones that need shade have enough of it, and the ones that need sun are exposed to it sufficiently.
Buy supplies and prepare the ground
Make sure you have some of the basic tools and supplies needed for gardening. The first thing you need to buy are seeds or young plants, and some kind of soil fertilizer and compost. When it comes to tools here are the basic ones:
- A compost bin is one of the most important things for a sustainable garden, it is used to make your own, organic compost
- Gloves, to protect your hand and avoid injuries
- A soil tiller if you're planning to plant a large garden, or a garden rake and hoe for smaller ones, to break up the soil and make it softer
- A shovel and spade to dig up holes for seeds
- A barrel to collect rainwater
Next, if there is grass in the area intended for your garden, you can use a spade to get rid of it, or mow it down well. If you want to get rid of the grass long-term you can use some newspaper and place it densely across the whole area, or cover it with a layer of compost or soil. The grass should disappear in a matter of months.
An insectary is also an important and valuable part of a sustainable garden. It is a natural alternative to pesticides. Reserve a part of your garden for plants designed to attract and cultivate beneficial insects and they will prey on many harmful garden insects.
Now it's time for digging. This means that you should remove any solid or larger objects, plant roots and rocks from the ground by tilling or digging it up.
Then fertilize your garden and work in compost to prepare it for planting. As fertilizer, you can use composted organic matter, such as food leftovers, weeds or leaves, made in the compost bin.
Also read: 5 Best Lawn Spreader
Planting and watering
Before you actually put the plants in the ground you can first just place them and see how they look. It could be helpful to see where and how you want certain plants, as well as what will be the best sustainable solution.
Although it does take a little more time, it can make quite a difference. It will give you perspective, allowing you to move the plants and rearrange them until you are satisfied with how they look together.
There is another important aspect of grouping and designing your plants, apart from the aesthetics. As it is important to group them according to the amount of sunlight they need, it is also important to group them according to their water needs. This will help you conserve water.
Place those plants that need more watering in one part of your garden, and those resistant to drought in another. This way, water will be used effectively and not be wasted. Be careful to water the plants only when they need it.
To conserve water, you can also install a rain barrel in your garden. With it, you can collect rainwater and use it for irrigation.
Spread mulch, compost or topsoil
You should add either compost, mulch or topsoil. It depends on the plants which of these they need, and whether they need a thicker or a thinner layer.
When it comes to mulch, it is the best eco-friendly option and it saves water. It can be made of sawdust, wood, leaves, or paper. It is also a great solution when it comes to fighting weeds.
So if you want to conserve the moisture and prevent weeds in your garden, just spread the mulch around your plants. It is the best way to keep your new garden healthy and low-maintenance.
Matt is an exterior designer and home improvement writer and editor at Georgia Roof Pro.