NATURE & LIFE
CREATING AN ECO-FRIENDLY GARDEN
An eco-friendly garden is all about designing with nature and the environment in mind. Learn how to create a functional garden that uses native plants, conserves water and energy, minimises or eliminates the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides, recycles green garden wastes, and provides a valuable habitat for birds, butterflies, lady bugs and other animals. Eco-friendly gardens save money, time and the environment by protecting clean water, creating habitat and preventing invasive species from taking over a landscape.
The first thing to do, of course, is to make sure that you have good soil and foundation; without that, plants, however strong, will not do well.
Other key factors…
- Limit your use of lawn fertilisers, herbicides, and insecticides.
- Reduce the size of your lawn by creating beds of shrubs and perennials. These landscape beds allow water to penetrate the soil and recharge groundwater. You can also reduce your need for herbicides by mowing your grass at three to four inches (seven to 10 centimetres). High mowing discourages weeds because higher grass shades out weeds.
- Use natural fertilisers and time it right. Use compost or slow-release fertiliser on lawn areas, as they release nutrients slowly. Leave grass clippings on your lawn to compost naturally if you can; otherwise put them into a composter. Avoid fertilising your lawn before a heavy rain to prevent run-off of excess fertiliser. Sweep fertiliser off any paved areas and rinse spreaders on the lawn so that fertiliser can be absorbed by the grass rather than lost to run-off.
- Don’t use pavement but rather permeable “hard-scaping”. For decks, patios and pathways, check out porous paving options that allow water to soak into the ground, such as wood, stone, loose bricks and paving blocks. You can also install green roofs on your garden sheds or roofs next to solar panels.
When it rains, trees act like giant umbrellas, intercepting rainfall in their canopies by reducing the amount of water that goes into storm drains. Their deep roots allow rainwater to infiltrate back into the soil where it can be used by plants.
Avoid overwatering lawns and use drip irrigation in garden beds to put water where it is needed, at the roots, and reduce evaporation. Improve your soil with compost, which holds moisture, and use natural, dye-free mulch in planting beds. Plant your garden when less water is needed – early spring and autumn are the best times to plant. Avoid planting during a drought when you have to water more. Coffee rounds are a good source of nitrates; obtain them from your friendly café, which will have a lot more than you. Use garlic spray. Fill a spray bottle with water, chop four or five peeled garlic cloves finely and drop them into the bottle. Shake well, let it sit for one week and then spray on the top and bottom of the plant leaves. Bugs hate the smell. By thinking of the environment, it is easy to encourage small animals and insects to visit and also enjoy your garden. Remember that they are also vital for a good balance.