The environment is in a worse place than it has ever been. A big reason for that is reckless human behaviour and the slow pace of implementing eco-friendly choices in our daily lives. From the cars that we drive to the products we use, and to the way we utilize our garden spaces, every little decision matters on a larger scale.
Now, you might think that having a garden and caring for it is actually helping the environment, but that’s not necessarily true. Many bad habits are actually hurting rather than helping, and in this article, we’ll go over the 5 most important things you can change to get a more sustainable garden.
1. Stop using gas tools
Burning gas is the number one air pollutant in the world. And gardening products, specifically lawn mowers, contribute up to 5% of the US air pollution according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
That’s because 3 billion liters of gas are burned every year for mowing the lawn, emitting carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide into the air. These chemicals have a very harmful effect, not only on the environment but also on human health.
And while using no tools is the most environmentally friendly choice you can make, we realize that that’s not always possible for some. Luckily, recent technology advancements have ensured that new tools can be powered by a battery.
These cordless garden tools don’t produce carbon emissions and are much quieter than their gas counterparts. Plus, you can use renewable energy sources to power your battery, even further contributing to their low impact on the environment.
2. Choose an eco-friendly heating option
The main reason people invest in their gardens is to spend more time outdoors. But when the colder winter months come, it can be hard to do so. Sometimes cozy blankets and sweaters are not enough to keep you warm, so you need something else to warm you up.
The two most popular choices are fire pits and patio heaters. Fire pits might seem like the more eco-friendly option, but they actually emit carbon dioxide, methane, and black carbon, especially if the firewood is not dried properly.
A much more environmentally conscious option is an efficient electric patio heater, especially if you power it from a renewable source.
Heating the outdoors seems like a huge waste in the first place, but if you do it only a few times in the winter and use an efficient heater, it won’t be a major contributing factor to climate change.
3. Choose plants wisely
Eliminating weeds, insects, and other garden pests with pesticides requires extensive use. The amount of pesticides used in some urban areas can be higher than in agricultural areas. Many households use pesticides many times per year, which can amount to millions of kilograms in urban areas.
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), only 1% of pesticides hit their target, and the rest wafts into the environment affecting unintended targets and polluting the groundwaters.
One way you can reduce the amount of pesticides needed in your garden is to select plants that are native to your area and can adapt to the climate. These plants usually require less maintenance and water, conserving resources and energy.
But you can also choose pest-resistant plants that can thrive without any protection, and plants that attract beneficial bugs that can help control pests. Plants such as lavender, basil, marigolds, and mums naturally repel insects, helping you get an almost pest-free garden.
4. Compost food and garden waste
To feed all those plants, you need fertilizer. And buying synthetic fertilizer is not the most environmentally-friendly choice you can make. The nitrogen and phosphate can leach into groundwater and increase its toxicity, causing water pollution and disrupting aquatic ecosystems.
But besides that, why even buy any fertilizer at all when you have almost all you need in your home. Instead of throwing away all your fruit and vegetable waste, save all of them in a composting bin. When it has cured for a few weeks and starts resembling other fertilizers, you can add it to your garden.
The compost will provide all the minerals your plants need to thrive, without you having to spend a penny!
5. Increase the biodiversity
Encouraging wildlife into your garden makes for a far more entertaining experience, and it also helps with pest control and protecting the environment. Some birds help with caterpillar control, and you can use nest boxes to attract them with some dried or fresh fruit.
You can also use your garden to help increase the number of our pollinator pals, such as butterflies and bees. Plant some flowers that they’re attracted to, such as wild lilac, goldenrod, and lemon balm. Since pollinators affect 35% of the world’s crop production, all while increasing the output of the most common food crops, this little step could go a long way towards protecting the environment.