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Sep 12

6 Top Tips for an Eco-Friendly Garden

With climate change at the back of everyone’s minds, it’s hard to know where to start when it comes to doing our bit for the environment. There are some obvious solutions such as walking more and spending less time in the shower, but making just a few changes in your garden can make a world of difference.

Follow the steps below and you’ll be well on your way to making your garden that little bit greener.

Start a compost bin

Since the beginning of time, nutrients have been taken and given back to the Earth, a cycle that sustains all life. But with the scale of food production at an all-time high, nutrients are being taken faster than they’re being replaced. Not only is this harming the planet, it’s affecting the nutritional value of our food. Setting up a compost bin is a great way to recycle your organic waste back into the garden.

A compost bin needs a 50/50 mix of wet, nitrogen-rich ‘green’ materials (fruit, veg and green leaves) and dry, carbon-rich ‘brown’ materials (paper, cardboard and dry brown leaves).

Do compost

• Organic fruit and vegetable peels
• Healthy green and brown leaves from the garden
• Coffee grounds and tea leaves (without the bag)
• Plain paper and cardboard
• Egg shells

Don’t compost

• Citrus fruit and onion peels
• Diseased plant matter and weeds
• Large objects such as branches
• Cat and dog poo
• Glossy colourful paper/cardboard
• Meat, dairy, fish and eggs
• Oily foods

Layering green and brown materials properly and turning the compost at least once a week will help prevent unwanted smells and make sure you’re getting the most out of your bin as quickly as possible.

Encourage bees and bugs

It’s safe to say you either love bugs or you hate them, but whether you like them or not, they play a massive part in our ecosystem. Introduce plants that will attract insect pollinators to your garden so they can prey on the pests that are nibbling away and ruining your plants. Flowering plants with brightly coloured petals and a strong fragrance are attractive to pollinators, and having lots of these in your garden will make it look beautiful and ensure it’s buzzing with bees. Nettle patches are fitting nurseries for butterflies, as the leaves are used for laying their eggs and provide a food source for the newly hatched caterpillars.

Bug hotels are becoming increasingly popular, and you can easily buy them online or try building one yourself. Having a bug hotel enhances the appearance of your garden and provides a wonderful habitat for them to live in.

Companion planting

Companion planting is a natural way to improve your garden’s productivity and keep pests at bay. Also known as interplanting, it’s about choosing varieties that will benefit and support each other in one way or another. Repeatedly growing the same plant varieties next to each other can create a monoculture, which can result in a single disease or insect wiping out whole crops in one go. Some examples of companion plants are:

Aromatic herbs like lavender and mint are fantastic companion plants for the whole garden as they repel bad insects but encourage bees and butterflies.

Hide your carrots in plain site from carrot fly by masking their smell with plants such as mint and onions.

It’s thought in some places that planting herbs like basil close to a tomato plant not only stops it from being eaten but makes the tomatoes taste better.

Roses and garlic also go hand in hand. Aphids love rose bushes and will leave the new shoots and buds damaged, but the smell of the garlic nearby will deter them from going anywhere near it.

If you were planning to send someone a rose bush gift, send some garlic along with it too and keep those aphids under control.

Go native

When choosing what you want to grow in your garden, it’s sensible to go with plants native to your local area. They have adapted to environmental conditions and require a lot less care and watering once they’re established. They also make the best habitats for all the wildlife in your garden. Choosing indigenous trees and plants will benefit you and everything in the garden. Adding non-native plants can sometimes introduce new threats such as insects and diseases that your garden may not have encountered before.

The UK has lots of wonderful native trees and plants that will add character and beauty to your garden, like beech or wild cherry trees for example. Don’t have room for a tree? There are plenty of beautifully coloured wildflowers that will attract bees and butterflies from all around.

Encourage friends and family to go native too by sending them a native tree or a bag of native wildflower seeds as a gift.

Home grown goodness

Many people don’t realise how far our food travels before it reaches our plates, and buying organic can get pretty expensive. When you grow your own produce, you can reduce your food miles and have the benefit of knowing where it came from and that it’s fresh.

After a few months, your brand new compost bin should have some rich soil ready to use. Then you can have home grown food with the confidence it’s going to be packed with nutrients.

Start out by trying a small vegetable patch or some easy fruit trees, and soon enough you’ll have a self-sufficient garden. You’ll only have to step out of the back door to get your ingredients for the kitchen.

Even tiny gardens have the space to grow food; there are plenty of patio fruit trees out there so small you can keep them on your doorstep. Vegetables like potatoes and carrots can be grown in plastic containers, and as for a herb garden, you can grow one of those on a windowsill.

If you want to give someone the gift of home grown food for life, fruit tree gifts are becoming increasingly popular and they are a gift that keeps giving every year.

Encourage others

Everyone can do their part for the environment, but some of us just need a bit of a push. If you know someone whose garden could be a little more environmentally friendly, drop them hint and have a tree delivered right to their door. Tree2mydoor specialises in sustainable, long lasting tree gifts. Not only will a tree or plant make their garden greener, it will bring a smile to their face too!

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