How to turn a small garden into a self-sufficient space

If your garden is short on square footage, a planted terrace can be a good solution, combining elegance with low maintenance.

Your compact patio or balcony can be used for so much more than sunbathing and barbecuing. Be inspired these sustainable ideas for small gardens and balconies.

After months of being stuck at home, many of us have become green fingered enthusiasts. Online sales of plants, seeds and bulbs have increased by 48.2% since the beginning of lockdown, but what’s often overlooked are the eco-friendly benefits an outdoor space can offer.

Photography: Annaick Guitteny

SUSTAINABLE IDEAS FOR SMALL GARDENS

To help us make the most of our new found passion for gardening, Uswitch have put together some tips for transforming your small garden or balcony into a self-sufficient haven.

1. CREATE A WORMERY

Any organic waste you produce such as fruit and veg scraps, and garden greens can be digested by tiger worms in a container, turning them into valuable compost. Worms can eat up to half of their own body weight each day, and their population increases rapidly under the right conditions, so emptying your bin regularly should become a thing of the past. Don’t worry, it doesn’t smell.

sustainable ideas for small gardens

Photography: Annaick Guitteny

Looking for advice on small gardens? See Small garden ideas – maximise a compact gardening space

2. COLLECT RAIN WATER WITH A WATER BUTT

Water butts are one of the simplest ways to become less reliant on grid services. The back-to-basics approach of collecting rainwater is as old as humanity itself, and it’s surprising that not more of us have this as a facility, especially during the summer when hosepipe bans are rife. The lack of chlorine makes it ideal for watering plants, but not-so-safe for us to drink ourselves.

sustainable ideas for small gardens

Photography: Shutterstock

3. HARNESS THE WIND

You don’t need a massive turbine in the garden to prove you’re an eco-warrior. An innovative design is expected to enable city dwellers the ability to harness the wind from their balconies. The winner of the 2018 Dyson Award; O-Wind is a small product that claims to make the most of multi-directional winds making it ideal for those in highrises. Alternatively, you can purchase simple building-mounted turbines for a fraction of the cost of pole-mounted ones.

See Garden trends for 2020 – The latest garden design ideas

4. GROW YOUR OWN

No grass? No problem! Food can be grown in all sorts of containers, from raised beds, to crate pallets, hanging baskets, and plastic poly tunnels. In many ways these planters are better than a garden, as you’re able to choose the quality of your soil and benefit from better drainage. Lettuces, tomatoes, and cucumbers are some of the simplest items to grow, where you’ll see the fruits of your labour within a few weeks, encouraging you to keep up the good work.

small garden ideas

Photography: Amateur Gardening

5. BENEFIT FROM A BALCONY BIRD BOX

Adding birdhouses to a balcony will make an attractive contrast to the urban landscape set behind it. They also provide refuge for wildlife from an environment that is less than forgiving. The lack of natural habitat in cities leaves many birds without areas to nest and lay eggs, so by providing this small space for them, you’re  helping to protect their species. They’ll return the favour by keeping pests at bay, a necessity when growing your own food.

sustainable ideas for small gardens

See Five expert tips for creating a beautiful balcony garden

Taking these small steps to improve your outdoor space are a great way to start leading a more organic lifestyle. Even those in the city can reap the benefits of being more self-sufficient. And with the mental health and well being benefits of gardening clear, there’s never been a better time to get started.

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