If someone came up to you and asked you the simple question – ‘how green is your garden?’ – the chances are that you would think it kind of strange. After all, gardens are supposed to be green, right? And all that planting, grass, and trees you keep out there in the backyard just have to be good for the environment? However, scratch beneath the surface of the question, and your acquaintance might be onto something. Because although most of us have a garden space of some description, it isn’t necessarily all that green at all.
In today’s guide, we’re going to take a look at some of the things you might be overlooking, that are causing severe damage to your eco-friendly credentials. Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know about creating and maintaining a truly green garden.
Let’s start with something obvious – your lawnmower. The bigger your garden, the more power it takes to cut your grass. Whether it’s running on petrol or electricity, it’s the same result – you are using valuable fuel to keep your lawn looking like a top quality cricket pitch. The solution? Unless you are prepared to use a hand-powered mower, try and minimize the size of your yard space as much as possible. You can create some fantastic designs by cutting in and creating beds in different areas, none of which will require you to use fuel to maintain. There’s the extraordinary amount of water you need to use to keep your grass looking fresh and lush during the summer months, too. Again, it’s an unnecessary waste, and given that many people in a variety of countries around the world have to walk several miles to get water just for drinking, it’s kind of scandalous, too. If you want to water your grass in the summer, get yourself water but – or more. The buts will fill during the rainy season, and you can water away to your heart’s content in the summer, safe in the knowledge that you are using what nature intended.
Most of the products you buy from the local gardening store to tend your plants and lawn are likely to be exceptionally environmentally unfriendly. Unfortunately, even when we buy fertilizers, most of them lack sound green credentials, too.The synthetic options tend to release quickly, and the plants never have the opportunity to soak up all of the nutrients. It gets your plants ‘hooked,’ too, meaning once you stop giving them help they won’t grow by themselves. You should also bear in mind that some of the key fertilizer ingredients actually come from fossil fuels. The nitrogen in your store-bought fertilizer is often introduced with a process using an astonishing amount of natural gas per treatment. And another vital food for plants – phosphate – is stripped from the earth at such a rate that experts believe we will be reaching depletion stage in around fifty years. Even organic fertilizers only need a small amount of organic material in them to be awarded the name, so always read the small print. The solution? It’s simple, really – make your own fertilizers. You can use grass clippings, mulch, wood ash, and, surprisingly, coffee grinds. You can make compost, too, and if you know any local farmers most of them will be happy to throw you some animal manure, which is a brilliant natural fertilizer – as long as you can handle the smell, of course.
OK, so we have already discussed some green ideas for getting rid of your garden waste – don’t throw it away and use it as a fertilizer. Ultimately, however, your garden will produce much more waste than you will be able to use, so what are you going to do with the overflow? Perhaps it’s time to get creative. Twigs, fallen sticks, and prunings can all be dried in your cellar and used as kindling for the fire during winter. Don’t have a fire or wood burner? Why not keep them to get the summer BBQ going instead? Old wooden fences can also be broken up and used as kindling, or alternatively, you might want to get creative. You can create a compost bin with an old fence in an afternoon of you have the right tools, and you can even use the leftover wood to create attractive, individual spaces in your garden. But what about the rest of the rubbish that your garden picks up over the year, such as the kid’s toys, broken tools, and old paving slabs? According to http://www.dirtcheaprubbishremoval.com.au, you should be careful about who you call to pick it up. Some refuse collectors will take all your garden waste straight to the nearest landfill site, so always choose a collector with green credentials if you don’t have the means to move your garden trash yourself.
Once your garden is looking great, and in a perfect state of decluttering, you want to be able to sit outside and enjoy it. But again, you need to be careful what you buy. Many of the plastics used for certain garden furniture types are obviously synthetic and are created from substances like oil and petroleum. But even the wooden pieces needs a closer look than you might think – are they made from sustainable sources? In the vast majority of cases, you can avoid all these issues by buying everything second hand. Buying used means you are saving products from destruction and cutting down their carbon footprint – if it’s been created and purchased already, it’s always better to use it for as long as possible. Look for furniture made from reclaimed materials, too – again you will be prolonging the life of something that would otherwise be destroyed. And if you are feeling creative, why don’t you try some DIY and build your own?
Stone paving or patios look fantastic, and help you use your garden all year round, But are they green? Unless you know where the stone is coming from, perhaps not. Most stone comes from abroad, so there is often a huge carbon footprint to consider. You also need to think about the ethical issues stone mining raises. As https://www.worldvision.com.au/global-issues/work-we-do/child-labour points out, there could be child labour issues. In many developing countries, young children are sent down into mines and work on dangerous quarries, so consider that before investing thousands of dollars on a new patio. Always do your research to ensure your garden stone is as environmentally friendly – and ethical – as possible.
A perfect garden?
Does everything in your garden look perfect? If so, there’s a good chance you aren’t doing any good to the local environment. To make sure you are doing your bit, try and have areas of your garden that grow wild. Whether it’s a corner or an entire back space near your shed, it doesn’t matter. And although it might ruin your eye line a little, the benefits will far outweigh your sense of taste. Wild, natural spaces will encourage local wildlife into your garden, including bees, other insects, and birds – all of which will help you keep the numbers of pests such as aphids, slugs, and snails – completely and utterly naturally. In fact, environmentalists are trying to encourage as many homeowners as possible to do this, as the vast majority of our gardens are often filled with foreign plants that aren’t in keeping with the local environment.
As you can see, there is a lot to think about if you want a greener garden. Take a look outside and question yourself on everything – is it really the eco-friendly place you want it to be?