Picture: Pixabay/JillWellington
Picture: Pixabay/JillWellington

Make your garden an eco-haven with these sustainability tips

By Sacha van Niekerk Time of article published Feb 22, 2021

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Gardening in 2021 is all about sustainability and doing your part for the environment.

From layout and design to planting indigenous and getting into composting, there are so many ways your gardening can actually help the environment around you.

Here are 8 ways to garden sustainably:

Garden design

Be strategic about the layout of your garden. Plants that thrive in the sun should be planted where they will have the most access to light whereas plants that need shade can be planted in the shadow of taller trees.

Pick high tolerance, low water plants to save on resources and group plants that prefer humidity as this technique traps moisture creating an environment all plants will enjoy growing in.

Composting

When maintaining a garden you’ll naturally accumulate green waste like leaves, twigs and small branches. This along with the waste from your kitchen ‒ coffee grounds, tea bags, fruit and veg peels, egg shells, paper and even the dust from vacuum cleaners ‒ can all be composted.

Dedicate a small plot in your garden that’s not too low down where domestic animals can get into it and not too close to the house where it may cause a smell or look unsightly.

The site should also be levelled out with good drainage. The aim is to reduce food and other organic waste from ending up in landfills by turning the organic waste into rich soil that can be used for multiple purposes from mulching to providing plants with nutrients.

Mulching

There are two varieties of mulch, organic and inorganic that is applied to the surface layer of soil. The former is made up of any sort of matter that was once living, from bits of shredded paper and cardboard to fallen leaves, grass clippings, bark and food waste (compost).

The inorganic kind can be anything from plastic sheeting to glass marbles, rubber chips and rocks. The overall purpose of either is to help suppress the growth of weeds, control soil temperature and retain moisture.

However, the way in which mulch protects plants varies from season to season. In the hotter summer months, the substance mulching can reduce the need for watering by 35-40% by slowing down surface evaporation and lowering soil temperatures.

Manual reel mower

Not only do reel mowers trim lawns down with a pristine manicured finish that rivals that of an electric lawn mower, they also help reduce electricity usage at home. Then there are fuel run mowers that require engine maintenance, are noisy, difficult to manoeuvre and leak fumes that are packed with chemicals and carcinogens.

Manual reel mowers use a scissoring motion to cut the blades of grass without any ripping or tearing and since they do not have an engine, they stop once you stop moving so you don’t have to rush the job to save on fuel or electricity.

Beneficial insects

Big or small, gardens can serve as a sanctuary that welcomes creatures of all kinds. Butterflies, birds, bees and small mammals can make your garden their home if you make it a place they’ll want to inhabit.

Planting insect friendly flowers like lavender will attract pollinators. Bee hotels are nesting tubes serving a resting spot where busy solitary bees can bring pollen and nectar to their young, the little hotels are a wonderful way to show thanks to these amazing creatures.

If you’d like to see more birds stopping by, bird boxes, bird seed and water baths will surely do the trick.

Grow native

Indigenous plants have evolved over thousands of years to grow and thrive in a particular region with minimal to no intervention making them a gift to their environment.

These beautiful plants that provide a sense of being home do not require excessive fertilisers, pesticides and water because they evolved to grow in those conditions.

However, being low maintenance is not their only benefit. These lovely plants are pros at removing more carbon dioxide from the air because of their deep root systems.

And, since they form part of the habitat, you’ll find that they attract a lot of wildlife looking for a home and food. These trees and plants essentially enable ecosystems to thrive.

Upcycle

Wherever you can, upcycle materials to use in the garden. With some creative DIY skills, you can transform old into new and beautiful. For instance, do you have old tyres?

Don’t throw them away, upcycle them as garden planters. Used tyres are surprisingly versatile items that can be used to transform garden spaces.

Often discarded, and difficult to recycle, these wonderful rings of rubber can be made into useful garden features with only a few minor alterations. From quirky and colourful planters to unique garden furniture, the options are endless.

Bamboo tools

Do your bit for the planet by ditching plastic and metal gardening tools for trendy bamboo.

Since the options for recycling plastic is limited as they are typically composed of various other materials too, often metals, the recyclable components can’t be separated and are therefore banned from recycling centres and bins. Bamboo on the other hand plays a major role in the environment.

According to Science Direct, “bamboo development reduces pollution; its plants reduce up to 35% carbon dioxide in the climate and deliver more oxygen”.

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