There’s no better way to celebrate mother nature than by cultivating a sustainable garden. Using environmentally conscious methods of gardening is truly the best way we can give back to the Earth. Eco-friendly property care has become more affordable and accessible than ever, giving everyone the chance to build a beautiful garden in their backyard or community. The best part is sustainable gardening can be just as beginner-friendly as traditional gardening. Try your hand (or green thumb rather) at sustainable gardening, and be rewarded with longer-lasting flowers and better-tasting vegetables, all while reducing your ecological footprint!
Firstly, What is a Sustainable Garden?
Environmental sustainability, as a concept, is based on meeting the needs of society in a way that does not harm the environment or compromise the health of future generations. The argument for sustainable gardens is two-fold: they give back to us and they give back to the environment. Sustainable gardening is free of chemicals, herbicides, and pesticides and full of native plant species and nutrient-dense vegetation. Because sustainable gardening involves planting organic, genetically unmodified seeds, the vegetables tend to have more nutritional value and better taste. Not to mention, the only waste that these gardens produce can be recycled into compost, making their carbon impact minimal at best. Now, let’s get into choosing the right products and tools for your garden.
Use the Right Sustainable Garden Products
Growing a sustainable garden is all about finding ways to reuse the natural resources we already have around us. This means using gardening products that have a positive impact on our environment. There are many ways we can do this. Take a look at some of the best sustainable garden products to use in your garden below:
Heirloom seeds are the ultimate choice for your sustainable garden. They are organic, GMO-free, and typically sold by small-time farmers. Vegetables born from non-heirloom seeds are usually hybrids that have been modified to survive the trip from the farm to the grocery store. Heirlooms seeds are natural and free of any modifications, resulting in healthier, better-tasting, nutrient-packed fruits and vegetables.
Organic or Homemade Mulch
Mulch is a necessity for any garden. Especially essential for dryer climates, mulch will trap moisture in the soil of your garden beds. As a result, gardens containing mulch require much less water. Additionally, mulch creates a barrier that prevents weeds from growing, providing a natural, chemical-free solution to weed killer.
An obvious choice, organic soil is the best thing you can do for your sustainable garden. Free of peat and chemicals, organic soil contains compost from natural sources. Stay clear of soil that contains manure or poultry litter. To verify that your soil is truly organic, you can check the registry at the Organic Materials Review Institute.
Rain barrels are a great way to reduce the amount of water used in your garden. Because rain barrels channel rainwater from the gutters into a collection tank, you will always have a standby supply of water to use. As a plus, you can purchase a rain barrel that is made from recycled materials.
Compost is a necessary component for a healthy garden. Many regions may have clay-based or dry soil that is naturally low in nutrients. Compost acts as a natural fertilizer, supplementing those nutrients back into the soil. To get started, here are some items you can add to your compost pile:
- Vegetable scraps
- Yard waste
- Coffee grounds
- Black & white newspaper
- Sawdust & wood shavings
Grow Your Collection of Sustainable Garden Tools
A fun part of having a sustainable garden is collecting a wide array of different tools. To be truly sustainable, you can look for tools that are made out of recycled materials. Avoid plastics, as those are typically non-recyclable and tend to be of lower quality. If you can, opt for tools with wooden handles. These are more durable and tend to be better for the environment. You can typically purchase these tools secondhand, as well. Below are some tools to help you get started with your sustainable garden:
- Pruning Shears
- Garden Fork
Outside of these tools, there are other items you can incorporate into your gardening routine that can really make a difference. For example, investing in a durable pair of leather gardening gloves is a great way to protect your hands. Well-made gloves can last a lifetime, so make sure you purchase a high-quality pair. Lastly, if you do not already have a hose attached to your rain barrel, make sure to buy a long hose with an adjustable nozzle to get your plants the water they need!
Build Sustainable Raised Garden Beds
In addition to using the products and tools listed above, there are some good rules of (green) thumb to follow when growing and maintaining your sustainable garden. Avoiding the use of chemicals, herbicides, and pesticides is key. This is a no-brainer for a sustainable garden. However, gardeners still need to prevent weeds and pests from eating away at their prized garden! Thankfully, there are many natural solutions to pest and weed control.
Non-toxic, Natural Pest & Weed Control
As a first step, make sure your garden has a large critter-proofed perimeter. This way, you can keep your vegetables and flowers free from rabbits, squirrels, and other animals. As for bug prevention, there are multiple options you can take to keep your garden clean, disease-free, and bug-free.
- Use seaweed mulch or spray to deter slugs
- Disinfect your tools between planting
- Water in the morning so that foliage has plenty of time to dry
- Spray plants with a mixture of canola oil & ivory soap to smother insects
- Use milky spore for garden grubs
- Use the companion interplanting method to prevent plant-specific pests
- Use a mixture of dish soap, Epsom salt, and vinegar to deter weed growth
Conclusion – How to Grow and Maintain a Sustainable Garden
Growing a sustainable garden is an incredibly rewarding experience. Sustainably grown vegetables and flowers are a gift that keeps on giving! Native flowers bring in many beneficial bugs that help pollinate other nearby plants, while healthy vegetables are better for our consumption. With the proper tools and products, you can have a thriving sustainable garden in no time, all while minimizing your own ecological footprint and giving back to mother nature.