Summary of Alternatives

The Mission of Sustainable Gardening

When we practice sustainability, we help preserve biodiversity and conserve water, wood, and other natural resources. Eco landscaping involves using a variety of native plants and trees to support wildlife, prevent soil erosion, filter the air, create shade, and provide protection from winds -- while also limiting the need for fertilizers and pesticides. Using native plants brings colour and beauty to the garden while eliminating the need for long-distance transportation (and CO2 emissions) when plants are brought from distant nurseries.

However sometimes using non native species can have special environmental benefits as they might be a host that is even more generous to wildlife than the limited UK species, as well as being more suited  to future warmer temperatures.

Sustainable wood and sustainable timber are harvested from forests that are specifically managed to maintain the naturally diverse balance of trees and plants, while also reducing the damage from lumbering equipment. Recycled wood is often chosen for raised beds, small retaining walls, and other garden features to further lessen the impact on the forest environment.

Woods

- You can source recycled wood for raised beds and small retaining walls.

- Used pallets can be uses for building compost bins

- Before you use oak, rainforest hardwoods and plastic compost woods, you can ask yourself how many years realistically do you want your garden to last. More sustainable pine can be repaired or replaced over the years.

- All wood becomes silver in appearance over time and looks very similar.

- FSC certified wood has a better chance of being sustainably grown.

Water

- A natural pond is a haven for wildlife especially with the increasingly dry summers we are experiencing.

- You can create a rain garden that creates an attractive wildlife area as well as filtering heavy metals from run off water. A rain garden also releases the pressure on urban sewage systems and allows you to grow unusual moisture loving plants.

- Choosing drought tolerant plants will limit the need for watering the garden.

- In drought conditions, allowing your lawn to go brown generally won’t damage the lawn but will save water and limit the need for more reservoirs to be built.

- Waterbutts collecting water from rooves and greenhouses saves water.

- A thick mulch over the planting beds retains water and keeps down weeds.

Hard materials

- Recycled concrete can be used as an alternative to new M.O.T (the foundation of paths, patios and artificial turf).

- Permeable paving allows water to drain through the paving and into the water table rather than running off into the streets and the sewage system.

- Used bricks can be cleaned up and reused.

- Bark paths with wooden edges can be installed rather than paved paths with concrete foundations.

- You can source local materials such as stone, brick, shingle and soil reducing the environmental impact of transportation.

Soil and Compost

- Reducing compaction of the soil helps micro-organisms thrive in the soil.

- You can chose peat free alternatives.

- You can compost kitchen waste, lawn clipping and leaves

 - Burning waste creates more CO2 and pollution than composting.

 -A compost heap also creates en environment for fungi and other mushrooms.

Lawn

- If you cut your lawn at a higher level that will give the soil more shade and reduce evaporation, keeping the lawn greener in Summer.

- You don’t have to have mown lawn to create a sense of spaciousness in your garden. You can convert your lawn into a sword of ornamental grass that doesn’t need watering or regular mowing.

- You can plant ground hugging plants to create a simple interesting stretch of green.

- You can create a wildflower meadow or simply leave the grass to grow and cut paths through it.

Plants

- Planting a variety of plants and trees can support wildlife, filter the air of CO2, prevent soil erosion and create shade.

 - You can combine plants in a way that can be benefit both the soil and keeping down insects.

 - Crop rotation in your vegetable garden can limit the need for pesticides.

Pesticides

- There are numerous organic ways to reduce pests in the garden.

- You can embrace the fact that your garden plants also have an important role in feeding insects and birds.

Wildlife

- Areas in the garden can be left to become wild creating protective spaces for vulnerable animals and insects.

- You can create bug hotels and leave piles of leaves in the winter for hibernating animals and insects.

Furniture

- Second hand garden furniture can be easily sourced.

- You can look for the FSC certificate which means the wood, as far as possible, has been grown in a sustainable way.

Walls

- Hedges can be planted as an alternative to walls with all the benefits plants bring to the environment.

 - Gabions can be filled with local stone avoiding the use of concrete.

- Rather than building retaining walls, earth banks can be used and designed with wildlife friendly plants.

Pots

- You can put pressure on local nurseries to supply plants in biodegradable pots.

Other Materials

- You can use metal or twine to tie up plants and tomatoes rather than plastic.

- With any garden products check with your nursery whether they have been produced in a sustainable way.