As you look out onto your garden, you probably see a lot of green. However, the garden you grow might not actually be green. Earth-conscious gardeners employ many tactics to ensure that their flowers, shrubbery, fruits, and vegetables are grown in an environmentally-friendly way. Adopt one, two, or all ten and reap the benefits of a garden that’s both beautiful and sustainable.
Ditch the Chemicals
It probably goes without saying, but a green garden grows without the aid of chemicals and pesticides. Your plants can be well-fed without the use of unnatural fertilizers (more on that later), and you can steer clear of pests without the use of pesticides (more on that later, too). This is especially vital if you’re growing produce in your garden.
Round Up the Rain
Many backyard gardeners breathe a sigh of relief when it starts to rain: no watering today! If you play your cards right, you could make watering a breeze for days after the rainfall, too. Purchase a rain barrel and either place it out in the open or beneath a rainspout to collect as much rainwater as possible. As an added bonus, you might also avoid some of the pesky runoff and erosion that your backyard rainspouts can cause.
Some gardeners may be attracted to exotic flowers for their gardens, but beware: they often require intense care and upkeep. To save yourself some work, choose only plants that are native to your area. Native plants typically require less water to grow and already have defense mechanisms set up to keep them safe from the local pests.
We’ve already touched on rain barrels, but there are other ways to keep your plants hydrated without using too much water. Some gardeners rely on sprinklers to do the legwork when it comes to watering, but beware: these mechanisms waste lots of water and often fail at quenching your plants’ thirst. To ensure that your buds get the amount of water they need, try installing a simple drip irrigation system. If you don’t have the resources to install one of these systems just yet, be sure to water each plant personally, pouring or spraying water on the roots.
Start a Compost Pile
Food scraps don’t have to go in the trash — you can use them to feed your plants! A compost pile is a great way to transform your organic food waste into rich fertilizer for your garden. You can gather it in a bin outside of your house and even add some earthworms to speed up the soil-making process. Compost has tons of benefits, too. It not only saves pounds of trash from entering the local landfill, but it also enhances the natural soil.
Recycle Containers, Too
The packaging used to hold the products you buy can double as plant housing in your new green garden. Small containers can hold seedlings, while medium- and large-sized ones will make ideal homes for maturing plants. Get creative with it: there are plenty of things laying around your house that can double as planters. And, if the look feels too shabby-chic to you, seek out local artisans who turn recycled goods into eye-catching planters.
Give Up the Gas
If you have grass in your yard, you might have a gas lawnmower to keep it trimmed. Ditch your fossil fuel-dependent machinery and replace it with one that uses electricity or one that runs without any sort of power source — only your push keeps the blades moving and slicing. When you’re finished, leave the clippings behind, as they’re full of nutrients and great for the soil.
Eat What You Sow
A great way to improve the greenness of your garden is to grow your own fruits and vegetables. You’ll know that they’re clean and chemical-free, and you’ll make great use of your outdoor space: while flowers and shrubs are certainly beautiful, a garden full of food-producing plants is simply more useful. Dig in!
Pollinate and Flourish
If you plant native flowers, you shouldn’t have a problem attracting bees, butterflies, and other insects that play a pivotal role in keeping your garden alive. These winged creatures transfer pollen from plant to plant so that they can reproduce and re-grow. And, while this might not be crucial to your personal garden, it’s vital in the production of food for the population at large.
Make the Best of Your Space
Not everyone has a sprawling outdoor space in which to grow an organic garden; that doesn’t mean that you can’t make a difference. Even a few potted plants on your flat’s terrace can attract important insects or provide herbs for your cooking experiments. You can gather food scraps to donate to local composting piles or recycle your old food containers so that someone else can transform them into something useful. The possibilities are truly endless; all you have to do is take the first step and become a little bit greener yourself.