Tips for creating an eco-friendly garden contributed by the green thumbs at the GreenPinky’s Blog.

New gardeners aren’t always aware that their flower beds and vegetable plots impact the environment. While some gardeners choose to employ a range of chemicals and man-made substances in their gardens, an eco-friendly garden can be beneficial for all forms of life.

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By creating an eco-friendly garden, you minimize the impact of your garden on the environment around you. This means that not only will your garden thrive but also you’ll be helping to build a stronger, more diverse, and more sustainable ecosystem.

If the idea of creating an eco-friendly garden appeals to you, then keep reading. Below, you’ll find eight tips for building a garden that respects and protects the environment.

1. Start Composting

Making compost is easier than you might think (see which method works best for you). All you have to do is gather certain materials that will eventually be distributed in the garden to enrich the soil and protect your plants. Here are some examples of materials that can be added to a compost pile or container:

  • Vegetable peels
  • Clippings from the lawn
  • Trimmings from hedges and other plants
  • Egg boxes
  • Shredded cardboard or newspapers
  • Moderate amounts of wood ash
  • The contents of your vacuum cleaner’s bag or container
  • Used tea bags
  • Leaves

Be sure to keep things like glossy magazine pages, cooked food, and meat out of your compost pile. 

When you begin composting, you can either buy or make a suitable bin. Regardless of the bin’s shape or size, you’ll need to turn its contents regularly, adding water to ensure that the compost is damp, taking care to ensure that it doesn’t get soggy. Organic fertilizer or some animal manure provides essential nitrogen, and lime can be added if your bin becomes stinky. 

When the materials in your compost bin look like rich, dark soil, it’s time to spread the compost in your garden.

2. Conserve Water

Every garden needs water to grow, but water also is a precious commodity. Accordingly, it makes sense to provide your garden with enough hydration while avoiding watering surrounding areas. Also, keep in mind that too much water can be just as damaging as not watering enough.

Green gardening experts agree that it’s wisest to water in the cool parts of the day. This generally means early in the morning, though some do advocate for evening watering. When you water during the cooler parts of the day, you’re ensuring that the water has sufficient time to penetrate the soil instead of evaporating away in the heat. 

If at all possible, avoid watering the stems, leaves, and blooms of the plants. This ensures that the water reaches the roots where it is truly needed. To achieve this, consider lightly burying a soaker hose under a layer of compost. Snake the hose throughout the garden so that all of the plants are getting the hydration they need, then cover the hose with compost.

eco-friendly garden
A soaker hose wrapping around freshly planted cucumbers and a curious dog. Photo by Sam Wigness.

3. Use Rain Barrels

Water is extremely useful, but it can be costly too. You can manage costs and take a more eco-friendly approach by placing rain barrels at each downspout on your house and outbuildings. This enables you to redistribute the contents of the rain barrel to your garden without costing you a penny. Plus, you’ll be conserving a precious natural resource.

4. Choose to Do Without Chemical-Based Products

These days, it seems like there are chemicals for everything you do in the garden. From keeping away slugs and other pests to controlling weeds and ensuring bountiful blossoms, opportunities to use man-made chemicals abound.

The problem is that sometimes these chemicals cause environmental harm. Consider that many common pesticides are not selective. This means that they kill the bugs you don’t want in your garden, but they could also kill beneficial insects, birds, and small mammals.

It may be slightly more complicated, but you can take several steps to keep pests away without harming the environment. For example, you might switch out a slug killing chemical for copper slug rings or a beer trap. You might also adjust the soil’s pH to encourage beneficial insects while discouraging those you’d rather keep away.

Many organic fertilizers, like fish fertilizer, are enormously effective and all-natural. It’s also worthwhile to investigate companion planting, which has been shown to increase the robustness and ability to resist diseases for all plantings. For instance, did you know that planting chives and onions around roses discourages black spot disease?

5. Reduce Your Grass

A green, thriving lawn is lush and beautiful. However, getting it to that point can mean relying on a lot of chemicals. In addition, lawns require a great deal of water to keep them green in the hottest part of the year.

To make yard maintenance easier, more affordable, and more eco-friendly, consider reducing your lawn’s footprint. Replace part of the grass with an easy-to-grow groundcover plant, of which many varieties that can be walked on are available. Some gardeners let moss take over all or part of their lawn while others choose to let stonework or other pavers reduce their need to water and use chemicals.

Check out these eco-friendly garden items in the Emeraldology Shop:

6. Use Locally Sourced Materials

Whether you are purchasing plants or stone tiles to replace a section of lawn, look for opportunities to buy locally grown or manufactured materials. This means that these products didn’t have to be flown or driven by truck to your area, which means a reduced carbon footprint. These local products also might be a bit less expensive because of lowered transportation costs.

If possible, try to avoid using materials manufactured from cement, which has a notoriously large carbon footprint.

7. Choose Plants Carefully

You may love the look of exotic cacti, but if you live in a cold, damp environment, those plants are unlikely to thrive unless you put a great deal of work into them. Whenever possible, choose plants that are appropriate for your climate zone. These plants generally will be easier to grow with less effort on your part. This also means that you’ll be less likely to need chemicals and other potentially harmful substances to succeed with these plants.

Choosing native plants is another fantastic way to go green while ensuring that you can be more hands-off in your approach. That’s because these plants will probably get just about everything they need, including hydration, from their environment.

8. Solar Lights

If you envision spending quiet evenings enjoying the serenity of your garden, then consider adding solar lights to your plan. These don’t increase your energy costs, yet they can shed wonderfully atmospheric lighting at night. Solar panels collect the energy of the sun’s rays all day, charging up the batteries for the solar lights. At night, watch your garden glow for a party or a quiet stroll.

Enjoying your eco-friendly garden

Creating an eco-friendly garden doesn’t have to be difficult, expensive, or time-consuming. If you aren’t sure where to start, choose one of the above tips that most appeals to you. Put it into action, and then look for another tip to try. Step-by-step, you’re building your way to a greener garden. For other great gardening ideas, click here to check out the GreenPinky’s Blog.

Featured photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash.