Many people think that gardening is eco-friendly simply by its very nature. I mean, how can you go wrong growing fresh herbs and vegetables in your own backyard? But, alas, gardening is not always as environmentally friendly as it is touted to be. Water is wasted, harmful chemicals are used and things that could be recycled are instead simply thrown away.
Only a little bit of effort is needed to take everyday gardening from a fun hobby to a completely environmentally friendly venture. Simply changing what you plant and the way you use water and fertilizer, along with a few other small changes, can make a big difference when it comes to making your garden green, both literally and figuratively.
#1-Make Your Own Compost
Making compost is the ultimate recycling project for your garden. Reuse your fall leaves to create mulch for your garden the following summer instead of throwing them away in the trash can. This will ease the burden on your local landfill and save you from having to purchase mulch in the springtime.
You can also make compost out of old food waste such as coffee grounds, egg shells and fruit rinds. Compost made from food waste enriches soil fertility and provides plants with many nutrients essential for growth.
#2-Be Wise With Water
Wasting water is something that most gardeners are guilty of doing from time to time. We leave our sprinklers on too long or we give our plants more water than they actually need. To combat this problem, consider switching to a drip or trickle irrigation system. Drip irrigation systems save water and fertilizer by allowing water to slowly drip to the root of the plants through a network of pipes and tubing. These irrigation systems can be purchase rather inexpensively at most garden or home supply stores.
Rain barrels are also an effective way to save water. Just one inch of rain over an area of 1,000 square feet yields over 600 gallons of water. Just think of all of the water you will be saving by harnessing this amount of rain water to feed your garden.
#3-Grow Local Plants
Many gardeners avoid growing plants native to their own area and instead opt to grow exotic plants and flowers that require a lot of time and maintenance. There are likely countless plants native to your area that are just as beautiful as anything they grow elsewhere. Local plants have a natural affinity for your local climate so they will automatically grow better and you will spend less time and resources to keep them thriving. You can find out which plants are native to your area by visiting the Native Plant Information Network.
#4- Be Careful with Fertilizers and Pesticides
Only use fertilizers and soils that are certified organic. Organic fertilizers are better for plant growth and won’t harm insects or the soil in your garden. If you want to up the ante even further, consider purchasing a fertilizer base that is similar to the native soil in your area.
Also, be especially careful when using pesticides. Most gardeners spray tons of pesticides onto their gardens in hopes of killing harmful bugs. However, it is estimated that only 5 to 15% of all bugs are actually harmful to garden plants. Avoid killing off good bugs by ditching pesticides all together if possible. Many bugs are natural predators and will instinctively get rid of harmful bugs for you.
#5- Grow Your Own Food
Growing your own food has many advantages besides just being incredibly environmentally friendly. First of all, it provides you with all of the vegetables and herbs you could ever want without paying the high prices for organic food at your local supermarket. It also allows you to ensure that your vegetables are completely free of harmful pesticides and herbicides. Vegetables completely free of pesticides are not only healthier, they also taste better as well.