Your garden may be green, but is it eco-friendly? With even a simple flower garden, you may have gardening habits that are negatively impacting the ecosystem in your yard. Apply these tips and you’ll be on your way to benefiting the environment as you care for your home’s green space.
Perhaps the most important rule of eco-friendly gardening is to use plants native to where you live. They require less maintenance because they are acclimated to the levels of sun exposure, temperatures and water levels of where they are growing. The added bonus is that you can use up to 77 percent less water when growing plants native to your area.
The average household uses ⅓ to ½ of their water on a garden, so it’s wise to create a smart strategy for how you water your plants. Decrease your overall water consumption with a few tweaks:
- Collect runoff from your house in rainwater barrels.
- Add organic matter to the soil to increase its absorbency.
- Aerate compacted soil.
- Position plants appropriately and group plants with similar watering needs together.
Nix the ‘cides
Chemical treatments such as pesticides can kill the healthy microbes living in your soil. These chemicals, when used improperly, can seep into groundwater, lakes and rivers, affecting more than just your yard. Protect your plants from leaf-chomping aphids, mealy bugs and mites with a simple soap spray of 1 tablespoon dish soap to a quart of water.
Later, create a solution of canola or soybean oil and water to keep pests from returning. Instead of store-bought sprays, use vinegar on weeds to dry them out faster. However, be careful not to use these to excess because they can also affect the pH of your soil.
Mix it Up
Swap out commercial fertilizer for organic material, such as compost, to avoid toxic hazards. Add three to five inches of compost to the top of your soil and till it in deeply to support growth. Something used by many is coconut coir – the fibrous inner shell of the coconut. With its neutral pH level, coir provides similar benefits to peat without increasing the acidity of the soil. It has great drainage and retention properties, improves the overall quality of the garden bed and is a sustainable resource. Your garden will thrive from the natural nutrients.
Track Your Efforts
Keep notes on what’s working and what isn’t so you can fine-tune your eco-gardening efforts. Each log should track when you water, fertilize and remove pests from your garden. After just a few weeks, a pattern will emerge that shows your effectiveness as a home gardener.
One of the goals of gardening is to not only have a beautiful green space in your yard that flourishes, but one that needs little to no maintenance to thrive—giving you more time to sit back and enjoy it the fruits of your labor.