Have you been longing for an eco-friendly garden? Everyone loves to spend long summer days basking in the garden, surrounded by dappled sunlight and bird song – it’s the ideal place to relax and reflect, enjoy a good book or chat with friends.
In recent times, those of us lucky enough to have a garden have no doubt spent a great deal more time taking in its beauty and enjoying being closer to nature, but could we be doing more to help our green spaces flourish and thrive?
Those with regular green fingers will know how rewarding it is to bask in the glory of your hard work, but for those novice gardeners looking for creative garden ideas to refresh their garden, there are a few simple things you can do to make your garden an environmentally friendly space, that’s both sustainable and teeming with wildlife.
Eco-friendly garden ideas
Below we have listed the easiest eco-friendly garden ideas you can adopt to make your back yard just that little bit greener.
1. Try permaculture gardening to improve eco-credentials
Adopt permaculture gardening as a daily approach to maintaining your patch. It is – ultimately – the best way to achieve a low-maintenance garden, and you may be doing much of it already: using food waste for compost; allowing dead plants to become home-grown mulch; replacing fertilizers with companion planting and natural deterrents; avoiding plastic pots; preserving – and so on.
2. Save water by planting a dry garden
Planning a dry garden is a really good idea, whether you are reworking a border or redesigning an entire garden. Dry gardens feature plants that are happy in dry, sunny conditions – think: Mediterranean gardens, which feature everything from woody, fragrant herbs to olive trees. The upside? They need little water to flourish.
3. Plant pretty flowers to attract pollinators
An easy tip for anyone to follow – plant some attractive flowers to attract butterflies, bees and other wildlife into the garden. Bees are vital to the eco system and therefore all of us, so when considering what to plant next, why not try some honeysuckle, lavender or foxgloves?
These will all help to attract bees and make your garden an environmentally friendly safe haven for our buzzy friends. Be sure to avoid using pesticides as these are harmful to the garden’s natural inhabitants.
4. Collect rainwater
It wouldn’t be summertime without a little rain! Put the weather to good use by purchasing a butt or us a large container to collect the rainwater from your downpipes when the downpours inevitably start.
In the days to come, the water collected can then be used to care for your plants, conserving water but still giving your shrubbery the refreshing drink it needs after a sunny day. While conserving water, try to avoid using the hose and sprinklers and invest in a trusty old watering can.
5. Feed the birds
A great way to attract more birds to your garden is to simply put out food – Monty Don's bird feeding tips will help you do this effectively. Hanging a bird feeder from a tree or scattering bird seed over the lawn will have your garden filled with bird song in no time – but why not go one step further and create a bird feeder from scratch?
There are plenty of resources online that demonstrate ingenious ways to create a bird feeder at home, using recycled materials such as plastic bottles, glass jars or scrap wood. While you’re at it, why not get creative in the kitchen and bake some tasty bird treats to hang up in the garden?
6. Grow your own vegetables
If you’ve got some spare time on your hands, or perhaps are looking for an activity to do with the kids, starting your own vegetable patch could be the perfect solution to keep busy and start feeling green. Not only will growing your own veg be an entertaining task, it will cut down your CO2 emissions and packaging wastage. Home grown vegetables are often more nutrient-rich and pesticide-free, so you can’t go wrong – and the best kitchen garden ideas are good looking, too.
7. Upcycle garden furniture
It can be tempting to buy all the newest outdoor furniture when hot days roll around, however there are plenty of great items at your disposal already – they might just need a little love and attention.
Head to your local hardware store and buy some sandpaper and paint, give that tired old garden bench a rub down and a fresh lick of paint, and it’ll feel brand new in no time. Alternatively, take a spin around the local charity shops to see if there’s any furniture you can repurpose, such as wooden chairs or tin baths for the birds.
This is a great way to donate to a good cause whilst giving pre-loved items a new home. Reusing and repurposing will give furniture a new lease of life, as well as giving you a summer project!
8. Create animal shelters
With a bit of luck, your garden will soon be frequented by a host of friendly animals looking to explore and possibly even hunker down to stay a while. Take it to the next level by installing shelters where your friendly visitors can get settled.
From butterfly to hedgehog houses there’s an abundance of wildlife garden ideas to help make garden wildlife feel more comfortable and you can even make your own from scrap materials.
Just be sure to position shelters for nocturnal or more timid animals, such as hedgehogs in a quiet, secluded spot in the garden, somewhere out of the wind and direct sunlight to create a relaxing, restful environment.
9. Make your own compost
Food waste bins are becoming increasingly common, but don’t simply leave your food waste for the garbage collectors. Over time, food waste breaks down to form a wonderful compost that will do wonders for your garden plants.
Use all the decomposable left-overs from your meals to feed the plants and flowers in your garden – from peas and beans and to egg shells and banana skins, these unwanted scraps are the elixir of life for your garden.
More natural than shop-bought compost and a great way of reducing landfill waste, making your own compost is an easy way to save the environment whilst saving money on the upkeep of your garden.
10. Add a water feature
If you have the space, a water feature is not only an attraction for humans to enjoy, it’s also a treat for many amphibious creatures and insects in search of somewhere wet to put down roots.
Garden pond ideas provide a source of water for many thirsty birds and mammals which is especially beneficial during the warmer summer months.
Just remember, if you’re hoping to introduce fish to your garden, you’ll need to ensure your pond is deep enough for them to thrive and bear in mind that shallow ponds freeze over in winter. On the flip side, ensure there's a safe exit for any animals that fall in to exit from.
What is an environmentally-friendly garden?
An environmentally-friendly garden is one that gives back rather than takes from its surroundings. This means it needs to be self-sustaining, requiring little energy or water to make it grow healthily – and certainly no chemicals. Instead, it should rely on local and natural ways to flourish – from self-grown mulches to home-made composts. An eco-friendly garden should benefit local wildlife, too, providing food and shelter for everything from small animals to essential pollinators.
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