If you're planning to venture into sustainable gardening then you must be asking yourself, how to build a sustainable garden?
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.
How to Build a Sustainable Garden
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 gardening, 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 sustainable garden.
Planning your Sustainable Garden
First of all, planning where to place your garden is an important step on how to make a sustainable garden. Preferably, you want 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 hose, or a sprinkler for larger areas, to water your garden
- 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.
Tips to Make your Home Sustainable
Make A Compost Heap
Composting is great for your garden and also great for the environment. Any compost you create at home is going to provide better nutrients for your plants than store-bought compost – and it also hasn’t been produced by machinery, so it actively reduces our need to burn fossil fuels.
Composting helps us reduce what we send to landfill and also provides shelter for some wildlife that might be struggling with habitat loss. We also need to think about the sustainability of our soil.
There’s no getting away from the fact that we need to grow more food to feed our ever-increasing population. We need soil to do this and our over-use of this resource is causing it to become depleted in various minerals, which could harm future crop growth.
If we all start composting we might just be able to fix this problem for future generations.
Get Better At Recycling
So many of us aren’t recycling properly – or worse still, our local authority is throwing away much of what we send to them. Do your research and find out exactly what is recyclable.
Some investigation will help you find local centres willing to collect items that authorities would otherwise reject. If you make sure that you drop off items at the right place, you can rest in the knowledge that it will actually be recycled.
There’s nothing worse than going to all that effort for nothing, after all.
Make Your Own Cleaning Products
Many of the cleaning products that we use at home are very bad for the environment. Some of the chemicals contained within them can often be toxic and these have a habit of finding their way into our water supplies as we wash them away.
Plus, they often come in plastic packaging that can be difficult to recycle. If you make your own cleaning products you can do away with the chemicals, which aren’t good for you anyway (and they do often get breathed in by everyone within your home).
You can also purchase bottles that you can reuse over and over again, thus helping to reduce our over-reliance on plastics. There are plenty of recipes to be found for natural cleaners online and you will probably also find that they are kinder on your bank balance.
Matt is an exterior designer and home improvement writer and editor at Georgia Roof Pro.
Now You Know How to Build a Sustainable Garden
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