From reducing our carbon footprint to eliminating harmful chemicals from the food we eat, our gardens have immense potential to help create a more sustainable future that benefits both us and the environment.
Whether you're creating your dream garden in your new home, or looking to update your current space, anyone can transform their outdoor space into one that conserves resources, supports local insects and wildlife, and minimises your ecological footprint.
And we're here to help you do just that. Here are our top six tips and ideas to help you create and maintain a more sustainable garden.
A compost heap is an essential for any garden. The RHSreports that ‘every 1kg of homemade compost saves over 0.1kg fossil CO2 emissions, which could save more than 5.1 kg carbon, per gardener, every year.’ As well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, composting has several other benefits for you and the environment.
Benefits of Composting
Diverts waste (food scrapsand organic by-products) from landfill and incinerators by turning it into a valuable resource.
Prevents soil erosion by binding soil together and increasing infiltration.
Install a water butt or rainwater collection system to capture rainwater and use this for watering your garden.
Use compost and mulches to help retain moisture in the soil.
Track and monitor soil moisture levels to avoid over watering your plants.
3. Use Natural Pesticides
Although effective for boosting plant growth, pesticides contain toxic chemicals that have been linked to the contamination of air, soil and water sources, and the harm of animal, aquatic and human life.
Farm workers face significantly higher exposure than the general population, with a 2020 study finding that of the estimated 860 million agricultural workers worldwide, 44% are affected by pesticide poisoning each year. Early symptoms of pesticide exposurecan include headaches, nausea, dizziness and respiratory secretion, though it can lead to long-term conditions, such as asthma, Parkinson’s disease and macular degeneration.
Natural methods can help to repel and control pests without the need for harmful pesticides.
Natural sprays made from mild soap and vegetable oil (or water) can help to remove aphids, mites and similar species.
Create natural barriers, such as the sharp edge of eggshells to deter slugs.
Consider companion planting, which encourages you to plant mutually beneficial species together.
When creating natural pesticides, reuse spray bottles and containers instead of buying new.
4. Plant Native
Fill your garden with as many native plants as possible, or grow a pollinator garden, to support local populations of butterflies, beesand birds. This creates a backyard ecosystem in which a diverse range of species can benefit from food, shelter, and nesting sites, contributing to the wider health of the environment.
Better yet, native plants are easier to grow and maintain as they are well-suited to the local climate and soil. As a result, they require less maintenance, including less water, which can help to reduce your ecological footprint and conserve valuable resources. Native plants also often attract less pests, as they have evolved natural defence over time, meaning you might not even need to consider pesticides.
If you have the space, you can also plant a tree! This promises many of the same benefits as above, but has been known to attract more wildlife.
5. Grow Your Own Food
Devote a patch of your sustainable garden to growing your own food. This provides you with fresh, nutritious produce, but also helps out the environment. If you’re a complete beginner, potatoes, lettuce, garlic, green beans, peas and cucumber are considered some of the easier vegetables to grow, whereas cauliflower, sweetcorn, carrots, onions and artichoke require more of an experienced green thumb to grow, maintain and yield. Don’t let this put you off though! With practice and patience, you can soon have a flourishing garden that promises organic foodwhich is free from pesticides, has reduced food miles, and promotes a balanced ecosystem.
6. Sustainable Garden Furniture
Whether it’s just you making the most of the garden, or if you regularly host events for larger parties, investing in the right garden furniture can make all the difference to how sustainable your garden is. A good rule of thumb is to invest in furniture made from sustainable materials, and avoid plastic versions.
Look for sustainable materials, such as bamboo or FSC-certified wood, that is supplemented with biodegradable fibres, such as rattan or wicker.
Source recycled or upcycled pieces where possible. This diverts waste and reduces the need for new resources.
Consider furniture with low-impact finishes, such as non-toxic paints and stains, as furniture treated with harsh chemicals can leach into the surrounding environment and soil.
Multi-functional and space-saving furniture can maximise your space, but also reduce the number of furniture pieces you need.
Whether you're a seasoned gardener or just starting out, these tips can help you to create a vibrant, sustainable garden, that prioritises your health and the health of the environment.
Wild & Stone's mission is to create stylish, easy to adopt and usable alternatives to common plastic products around the home. We source all our products sustainably, from raw material to final delivery. Shop our full range of home and lifestyle products on our website, or get more top tips over on our sustainable living blog.