Sustainable Gardening Tips

 

I hear the word “sustainable” thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean? I think the reason people get confused is because as it’s applied to gardening, “sustainability” is more of a broad concept than it is a specific step-by-step process. It boils down to this, though — it’s an idea of using practices that do no harm to the earth while seeking to enhance our environment and its inhabitants. It also means that the aim is to continue your practice (gardening, for example) indefinitely without external input.

Certainly, sustainable gardening starts with organic practices, but does it go beyond that? Yes, it can — think “reduce, reuse and recycle,” as the three R’s will help you create a sustainable garden practice for years to come. Here are my Top 5 sustainable gardening tips:

 

1. Conserve water & control runoff. Add a water collection system, conform to your area’s watering guidelines, consider drip irrigation rather than pop-up heads or oscillating sprinklers, create a rain garden or swale, and water less frequently but more deeply.

2. Have a plan for yard and garden waste. Start a compost pile, use a mulching lawn mower to avoid collecting lawn clippings, return your plastic nursery plant pots to the nursery (many reuse them), and investigate your area’s yard waste recycling program.

3. Choose plants thoughtfully. Use plants that are either native or adapted to your area — these plants will thrive without the use of extra watering, pampering and fertilizing.

4. Create a sustainable garden design. Reduce the size of your lawn (this is this thirstiest part of your yard), plant shade trees to cool your home in the summer and save on energy bills, and plant a windbreak with trees to reduce winter heating bills.

5. Reduce fossil fuel use in the garden. Consider replacing your gas-powered lawn mower with an electric or push model, avoid mowing more frequently than necessary, and add landscape lighting only where it is needed. Use solar-powered or low-voltage lighting, as well as LED lights for holiday décor.

 

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