Britain really is a nation of garden lovers, and each year more and more people are donning the wellies and getting stuck in. It’s not difficult to see why gardening is becoming increasingly popular either, as the numerous benefits that come along with it really speak for themselves. Not only do you get to keep active and enjoy being outdoors, but you also get rewarded for all the hard work that you put in.
Whether that’s creating a beautiful garden to relax in, or harvesting a fresh crop of vegetables from your lovingly tended plot – the end results are what will keep you returning to the garden year after year.
And for many gardeners; from inspired first-timers, to seasoned green-fingered veterans, the question of what can be done to make the garden a bit more eco-friendly is often asked. Thankfully, going green in the garden is just the same as anywhere else - simply reduce the amount of waste that’s being made, reuse what’s already available to you, and recycle as much as possible, as often as possible.
So if you’re keen to give it a go, here are a few ideas for how you can get working in harmony with nature, and create yourself a much greener garden.
1. GROW YOUR OWN VEG
It’s no secret that HIPPO loves allotments, from their eco-friendly values, to the way they support local communities, they’re everything we’re passionate about. Whilst the satisfaction of growing your own food is highly addictive, it’s not always easy to get started with an allotment plot of your own. That’s why starting a small plot in the garden is a great way of learning the ropes (and it also saves a bit of money on food shopping). Foods such as salad leaves, potatoes, tomatoes, beetroot, peas, runner beans and mint can all easily be grown in the garden with very little effort involved.
2. PLANT A TREE
Trees not only provide a habitat for all manner of wildlife, but they also purify the air we breathe, so if you do have the space to plant one, it’s well worth doing. Doing it your self isn’t too taxing (remember to pick a suitably sized tree), and getting the kids involved is not only a fun activity for them, but they’ll also get to watch it grow through the years.
3. HELP THE BEES
Planting certain plants and flowers will gain the attention of some very important visitors. The world needs pollinators such as bees and butterflies, and encouraging them to your garden helps to keep their numbers up. Use local native plants such as heather, rockcress and lavender, and try to plant them clumped together rather than randomly dispersed. For the flowers, this is also a good opportunity to recycle some old tins, bottles and containers to use as pots. This also reduces the need for traditional plastic pots, which are steadily becoming as big an environmental problem as carrier bags.
There are some innovative pots available that are made from recycled materials such as paper. These are treated so they last approximately three years, and can then be left to biodegrade on the compost heap.
4. BUILD A POND
Digging out a pond not only looks good, it also does wonders for the environment. A pond will attract all manner of wildlife, including natural predators to the pests that have a taste for all the vegetables you’ve been tending to. Toads, dragonflies, beetles and ladybirds will all happily feast on those pesky aphids and slugs, which also reduces the need to use chemical pesticides.
Why throw away your kitchen waste when you can put it to better use? Follow our guide on composting to learn about what can and can’t be used, you may even be surprised with what can go on the compost heap. Everything from tea bags, egg shells, shredded paper and grass cuttings, to even some obscure stuff you might not have considered before like vacuum dust and coffee grounds.
6. CUT THE GRASS PROPERLY
Maintaining a healthy lawn is satisfying work, but there are ways to do it that are a touch more environmentally friendly. For example, if you cut the grass at a higher setting, you help it in a few ways. Firstly, it strengthens the roots, which causes them to grow deeper in the soil, making them hardier and less susceptible to drought (therefore you don’t have to water them as much). Also, the higher the grass, the fewer weeds you’ll have to contend with as they can’t compete for the space.
Another thing to consider about your lawn is what you use to cut it, replacing the electric or petrol mower with a push along reel mower saves power and reduces fumes if you use petrol. Finally, the one thing you could do that would permanently reduce the effort and resources that go into maintaining a lawn would be to reduce the size of your grass space altogether.
7. BE SMART ABOUT WATER
Each summer we’re likely to face a hosepipe ban at some point, but the truth is, you should be doing what you can to never have to feel the effects in your garden. The obvious choice is to collect rainwater when you can by using a bin or butt, and then use this in your garden to water the plants and lawn. They are quick and easy to install, with many stockists offering starter packs that come with everything you need (you could of course find something to reuse rather than buying outright). And don’t forget that grey water from your bathtub or kitchen can also be reused in the garden.
Other tips to help save water (which also helps with the water bills) include things like using a hosepipe sparingly. Water in short bursts at the bases of plants and flowers, and do this last thing in the evening, or first thing in the morning, so that the temperature is cooler and the water soaks in rather than being evaporated away in the midday heat.
Being environmentally minded in the garden isn’t too difficult, and all the little things that we can do at home will soon mount up to make a real difference. Encouraging wildlife and reducing waste ensures that your garden is the best kind of garden for the planet.