Gardening sustainably is an important way that we can reduce our impact on the planet and help support a healthy environment. Here are a few simple tips for starting your own sustainable garden.
As humans become more aware of our impact on the planet, and the importance of living more sustainably and taking care of the environment, we have started to pay more attention to the important connections within our ecosystem.
However, one aspect where many people still are not as eco-friendly as they could be is in the garden. Recycling is great, but many gardeners who recycle still use chemical pesticides and artificial fertilizers in their yards and gardens, without realizing that they are polluting the environment and damaging important microbial activity in the soil.
This is why the organic gardening movement is so important, and more and more gardeners are starting to make the switch to organic.
However, sustainability goes beyond just organic gardening. Growing food in a sustainable manner means creating your own inputs, respecting your natural landscape and climate, and treating your garden as a natural part of the surrounding ecosystem.
Here are are 5 simple tips for growing a sustainable garden, from the book “Sustainable Gardening In The Southeast,” by Susan M. Varlamoff, but these tips can help you grow a more sustainable garden no matter where you live:
1. Improve the soil. Soil in the Southeast is typically clay or sand and requires generous amounts of compost to make it fertile and suitable to grow a lush garden.
2. Create a landscape that maximizes water. By grouping plants according to their water needs, gardeners will have much less watering to do beyond what falls from the sky. For example, you can plant drought-resistant plants like Autumn Joy sedums and purple coneflowers together because they have similar (and low) water needs. Unless there’s a drought, Mother Nature will provide enough water to keep them healthy. The same concept applies in reverse to thirsty plants like hibiscus, which should be planted with similarly thirsty neighbors and probably near a rain barrel.
3. Plant a diversity of native plants. Native plants co-evolved with local insects, birds, mammals and other wildlife. With that in mind, using native plants in your landscape can create the thriving ecosystems on which all life depends.
4. Reduce lawn size. University of Georgia experts recommend having a lawn that is no more than 40 percent of the entire landscape. The expanse of green may be soothing, but it will require much more water and chemicals to stay that way then a festive patch of native plants will.
5. Mulch, mulch, mulch. Use organic mulch such as wood chips, pine straw and pine bark around plants to maintain spoil moisture and temperature, reduce weeds and restore organic matter to the soil.