Sustainable Gardening: A Beginners Guide to Eco-Friendly Gardening – Guest Post by Bob Gorman

Growing plants in your garden is a great way to increase your positive environmental impact, but there are pitfalls to be wary of if you’re chasing good karma. Small, yet important things such as the types of plants you choose and the materials you use on your garden can make a big difference to the success of your efforts, and the benefit to the environment. The methods you use to grow plants can do more harm than good, so make sure you’re aware of potential pitfalls before you start digging.

Start by choosing the right plants

When you’re preparing to start up a new garden, researching native plant varieties and their needs will go a long way to set you up for success. Native plants will always be the best choice for your garden as they are typically best suited to your particular climate and weather conditions, but before you go shopping, consider whether the plants will be positioned in a full-sun area or will receive shade throughout the day. This could make a huge difference to the kind of plants you should buy and the amount of maintenance they will need. If you’re situated in an area which is often affected by drought, opting for drought-resistant plant varieties will save your garden during hot summers and dry winters. Likewise, if your garden is likely to be affected by pests, consider choosing plants which are naturally pest-resistant – it could save you from wasting money and trouble on pest prevention in the long run.

Plant by hand

Planting your new garden yourself is a gratifying experience in itself, and it might just start you on the path to greener thumbs. The real benefit to it is that you can avoid the potentially harmful impact of machinery or pesticide sprays. This will ensure your plants have the best chance to grow and is especially important when you’re growing fruit-bearing plants. If you’re wanting the best possible return on your investment, go for fruit-bearing plants. For the best results, you’ll need to plant according to the season, and it might take a while before you harvest any food from your plants, but there’s no doubt it will be fresher, and probably healthier, than anything you can buy at the supermarket.

Add mulch

Giving your plants the best possible chance at growth often comes down to their immediate environment, and the best way to ensure the soil quality and moisture is to lay mulch over the top. Good quality mulch can be purchased from most home-improvement stores, or if you have some shredded bark, grass clippings and cocoa bean hulls lying around, those will do just as well.

Compost food and garden waste

For those with a green thumb, composting will be nothing new, but the range of things you can add to your compost might come as a surprise. Your fruit and vegetable scraps are only the tip of the iceberg – crushed eggshells, coffee grounds, and even used paper towels are welcome additions to your compost bins. That being said, there are also things you should keep out of there, starting with your pet’s waste. Meat-eating animals produce waste containing nasties you wouldn’t want to introduce to any edible plant life; however, if you happen to own a farm, grass-eating animals like horses, cows and chickens are prime candidates for compost production.

Recycle as much as possible

The garden is a perfect place to put your recycling to use in ways you might not have considered. For example, shredding the old newspapers sitting on your coffee table will give them a new lease on life as plant mulch, and if you have any empty spray bottles sitting around, they can be used to water the smaller plants around your yard, as well as any indoor plants you own.

Use recycled water

The benefits of reusing water where possible can’t be understated, and your garden is a great place to start. You can start with simple practices like collecting excess water in a container while you shower, and when you’re ready to take the plunge, a water tank is one of the most effective ways to get the best possible mileage out of precious rainwater. Buying and installing a tank can be expensive, but it could also save you serious money on your water bills in the long run, especially since the water collected is perfectly suitable for bathing in.

Maintaining an eco-friendly garden shouldn’t be overcomplicated, and many of the best things you can do won’t cost you any more than the average garden would. All you need is a little extra time to put sustainable practices in place, and commitment to follow through. Your garden will thank you for it!

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