Improve your garden’s sustainability by working with nature and implementing these climate-friendly gardening practices…
A big part of being a sustainable gardener is making sure that you care for and respect your local environment, and that your garden doesn’t have a negative impact on your surroundings.
Fortunately, there is absolutely no reason you can’t have both a beautiful yard and a fruitful garden without ruining the environment. In fact, you can improve your soil and create a more sustainable and self-sufficient garden by using climate-friendly gardening practices such as those listed below.
1. Ditch Your Gas-Powered Mower – Use a manual push mower or an electric mower to cut down on carbon emissions when cutting your grass. A manual push mower is also thought to be better for grass because it cuts it longer and clips it off less destructively than a gas mower.
2. Plant Trees and Shrubs – When you plant native trees and shrubs strategically around and within your garden, you can create a more controlled environment to help your plants grow better. For example, if you have a super-hot sunny area, you can plant a few trees to bring some needed shade so that your garden crops don’t burn in the sun.
3. Choose Native Plants That Are Adaptable – One problem with current gardening practices is the desire to grow too many non-native plants. Plants that grow well in the environment where you live are much less resource-intensive, and also require less work. You will also want to pay attention to how your local climate is changing over time, because what worked ten years ago where you live might not work now.
4. Avoid Using Non-Permeable Surfaces – Asphalt, concrete, stone and brick might look nice but it’s better to use planting beds, mulched beds, gravel, and other permeable pavers so that water can be absorbed into the soil more easily and you won’t end up with a super-heated area of your garden – or one where you constantly have to water because rain water is not being captured and stored in the soil.
5. Plant a Diversity of Plants – Using native choices, plant a wide variety of different plants. Reduce soil erosion with properly placed shrubs, trees, and cover plants. You can plant pollinators, water collectors, and beautiful flowering plants that help ward off pests. Diversity encourages beneficial predators and pollinator insects, and reduces the incidence of pests and diseases.
6. Grow Perennial Plants – Perennial plants don’t have to be replanted again every single year, which saves you time and effort in the garden, while also reducing soil disruption and potential erosion caused by digging.
7. Don’t Leave Your Garden Soil Naked – For your food gardens and any soil that you’re preparing, it’s imperative that you don’t leave your soil uncovered. Nature hates a vacuum, and bare soil will erode, release carbon into the atmosphere, and quickly invite weeds. You can cover your soil with a number of natural mulches, compost, and straw. Or you can grow cover crops such as legumes which will add nutrients to the soil while preserving the soil structure.
8. Think Maintenance-Free – When you are planning your garden, try to think about the type of maintenance that you’re going to have to do to keep the garden going. Plant and design with that in mind so that you can work with nature instead of against it.
9. Conserve Water – When you do work with nature, you also naturally conserve water. For example, letting your grass grow taller will improve the root system so that your grass doesn’t need as much water. Collecting rainwater and using it in the garden will help you conserve water too.
Think about other ways that you can work WITH your natural environment instead of against it. Many new gardeners are surprised to discover how easy it is to grow a garden! Plants will naturally grow when they are given nutrient-rich soil, the right amount of water, sunshine, and care. This happens naturally in nature. There are 2000-year-old food forests that still produce (with very little if any intervention) food that feeds people. Nature is wonderful and knows what it’s doing! It’s up to us to figure out what we can do to help rather than interfere.