26 Aug 2022 | 2 minutes to read
Outdoor living and gardens are increasingly important in our lives. Making small changes to gardening has many benefits for people and the planet and can make all the difference.
Healthy soil supports a healthy environment because it provides the nutrients for plants to grow. Soil also helps to combat climate change by locking in greenhouse gases that would otherwise be released into the air. Dig in lots of fresh compost to improve the quality of your soil, and encourage the growth of micro-organisms that enable nutrient release. Try making your own compost instead of using peat, which releases large amounts of carbon dioxide when harvested. A home-made compost heap is also an eco-friendly way of getting rid of garden and household waste, such as grass clippings, prunings and vegetable peelings.
Bees are vital to the wellbeing of both people and planet. As pollinators, bees help plants to grow, breed and produce food, including berries, fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables. In fact, a third of the world’s food production depends on bees. To attract bees to your garden, plant bee-friendly plants such as crocus, honeysuckle, ivy, lavender and strawberries. Bees are also drawn to herbs such as chives, marjoram, rosemary, sage and thyme. If you really want to make these industrious insects feel at home in your back garden, you could even try building your own bee hotel out of an old container stuffed with dried twigs and lengths of bamboo.
Choose plants that suit the environment of your garden and the climate where you live. For example, you might choose wetland plants, like marsh marigold, for waterlogged soil or Mediterranean plants, such as rosemary, for a sunny spot. If you have the space, think about planting trees to remove carbon from the atmosphere. When caring for plants and lawns, use organic fertilisers and opt for chemical-free methods, such as hoeing and hand-pulling, to control weeds.
When introducing hard landscaping to your garden, think about using recycled materials such as reclaimed bricks, roof tiles, troughs, unwanted scaffolding boards and wooden pallets. You can find these materials in reclamation yards or by searching online marketplaces. Reduce the volume of storm-water runoff, and therefore the risk of flooding in your local area, by using permeable paving (such as gravel and slate chippings) for driveways, patios and paths. Instead of erecting fences, plant living boundaries such as privet hedges. Living boundaries trap pollution while simultaneously providing a habitat for wildlife.
Conserve water by installing rain barrels on downpipes to collect and store rainwater that runs off your house and shed rooftops. Storing water in barrels minimises the need to use hoses and sprinklers. It also reduces the soil erosion caused by rainwater runoff. Sticking with the aquatic theme, you could create a water feature to provide a habitat for amphibious creatures and insects. Alternatively, erect a bird bath so that the local birds benefit from clean water for drinking and bathing. While you’re thinking of the birds, you might want to set up a bird table for feeding them. They’re bound to appreciate the gesture, especially when the cold winter months come around.
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