Gardening is about enjoying nature and its beauty, so it makes sense that gardeners try to reduce the negative impact their gardening has on the environment. There are small swaps to make in your everyday life to be more eco-friendly like bringing reusable bags to the grocery store or refilling your water bottle instead of buying a plastic one. You can do little things in the garden also to make it more sustainable. These sustainable gardening tips are easy to work into your gardening routine. It may not seem like a big deal to choose an organic fertilizer or native plants over an exotic plant at the nursery, but little by little these small swaps make a significant impact, especially if everyone starts to do it. Check out these sustainable gardening tips to see which ones you can try incorporating into your garden.
What is Sustainable Gardening?
Sustainable gardening is about minimizing the harm to the environment with your gardening practices. Sustainable gardens avoid using fertilizes, pesticides, and herbicides, and instead choosing natural methods. A sustainable garden is often organic and incorporates environmentally friendly ways to keep the garden balanced. You can gradually make your garden more sustainable. You don’t have to make the switch overnight. Learning how to garden in an eco-friendly and greener way can take time and practice.
Sustainable Gardening Tips
DIY Fertilizer: Compost
Composting is a great way to get rid of old plant clippings, leaves, and other “green waste.” What should put in your compost pile for your vegetable garden? Put any leftover fruit, vegetable, coffee filters, and other plant wastes into your compost bin. Don’t add any animal proteins like dairy or meat. Eggshells are great for the garden! Read more about how to compost from our sister-site smartpond®.
Start a Veggie Garden
Incorporate fruits, veggies, and herbs into your garden and start growing your own food. Growing your food is fun and helps reduce your overall carbon footprint, as your fruits and veggies don’t have to travel far to get to your kitchen. Easy foods to grow: spinach, tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, squash, bell peppers, blackberries, strawberries, mint, chives,
An organic garden doesn’t use (or minimizes the use of) chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and other artificial and chemical products in the garden. Next time you go to buy fruits and vegetable seeds or plants, get the organic ones instead! Choose organic soil to minimize the chemicals used in the garden. Instead of using traditional pesticides or herbicides, use natural products or DIY remedies.
Choose Native and Local Plants
The plants you typically see at a nursery come from all over. While these plants look beautiful, they’re often not “native” to where you live. You don’t see them growing in the wild in your city or even state. Native and local plants are essential for your local ecosystem. Refresh with our March blog about the importance of having local plants in your garden.
You can use recycled water to water your plants to make your garden more sustainable. When you’re waiting for the water to get hot in the sink or the bathtub, let the cold water fill into a bucket instead of going down the drain. When you’re boiling pasta or vegetables, let the water cool and use it in the garden. It’s filled with nutrients! You can also collect rainwater and use it to water your plants. Direct the flow of your gutters into a rain barrel and attach a spigot to make it easy to fill up buckets and watering cans.
Tip: Water your plants in the early morning or late afternoon to maximize water absorption. If you water your plants midday, when the sun is at its peaking, and the weather is the hottest, more water will evaporate and not make it to the plants.
Need to mow? Go manual or electric
According to Scientific American, at least five percent of the US’s total air pollution is from lawn mowers. Instead of using a gas-powered mower, try an electric one or if you’re up for a good workout use a manual! You can find electric leaf blowers and trimmers too.
Adding mulch to plant beds helps to reduce weeds naturally and keeps the soil moist so that you can use less water. If you compost just leaves, you can use that leaf mold instead of mulch. Another good alternative for mulch is wood chips.
Flowers help attract bees and butterflies which help to pollinate your local plants. You need these critters in the garden to keep your plants grow, bloom, and produce fruits. Local flowers are essential for sustaining your local bees, butterflies, and other bugs that keep your garden’s ecosystem thriving. As bees fly from plant to plant in search of nectar, they cross-pollinate. The bees are in trouble, and planting bee-friendly flowers can help your local bees.
Save Your Seeds
At the end of the growing season, take seeds from your annuals and save them for next year. You won’t need to go to the store and buy new plants or seeds. You can sprout the seeds you already have. Let the seeds dry then store them in a low-humidity space throughout the winter.
Instead of using soil, you can grow your plants in water. It’s called hydroponic gardening. Many plants can absorb nutrients through the water, which is often more efficient. Gardeners often see their fruits and vegetables growing better and having higher yields in a hydroponic system. Hydroponic gardening is also great for indoor gardening, fewer pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers are needed. Learn more about setting up a hydroponic garden.
Reusing older materials that you would have usually thrown out is an easy way to make your garden more sustainable. Rustic decor is perfect for upcycling, old wheel barrels and watering cans become the perfect aged planter. Instead of throwing away egg cartons, use them to start your seedlings. Let yogurt cups become planters dug into the ground; you can’t see them anyway.
Sustainable gardens hope to reduce their negative impact on the environment locally and on a larger scale. Little swaps like using rainwater or a manual lawn mower help to minimize your garden’s impact and make it “greener.” These swaps seem small, but over time they are more impactful, and if everyone did these swaps the results would be amazing. You can do your part by training to make your garden more sustainable. It can be a work in progress. You can start little by little trying to make your garden “greener” by using natural DIY pest control methods and choosing a native plant next time you go shopping for plants. Gardens are all about making the world more beautiful and enjoying nature, making sure your garden has a minimal negative impact on the environment helps you to give back.