How to Grow A Green Garden: Use Fewer Resources With These Earth-Friendly Gardening Ideas
A green garden is more than organic. It has many earth friendly features.
Selecting Plants for the Green Garden
- Native plants are the preferred choice for green gardens. These are adapted to local growing conditions. They thrive with minimal watering, fertilisers, and pesticides. Natives also minimise the risks associated with exotic, introduced species, which can become invasive.
- Become aware of the invasive species in your region so you can avoid buying them. Some nurseries still sell ones that are known to be invasive. Those that can self-sow and become naturalised are the real issue. Examples include barberries, silver maple, and privet.
- Invasive species differ from one area to another. For example, purple loosestrife has naturalised in many parts of the Northeast.
- Select organic seeds and plants whenever possible. These are available from various sources.
- If you live in a drought-prone area, choose plants that can survive with minimal watering. There are many excellent cultivars of succulents available. One need not sacrifice beauty in order to be green.
Watering the Green Garden
- Be frugal with water. Plant drought-resistant species, and install a rain barrel or cistern.
- Use grey water for landscapes if this is allowed in your municipality. An example is water from baths and showers. If you wash dishes by hand, this water is also safe for plants provided you pre-rinse the dishes to remove food and crumbs.
- Lawns are water hogs. Limit the area devoted to grass. Replace all or part of the lawn with ground covers, perennials, and low growing shrubs.
- Create a rain garden to collect runoff during rain storms. This is done by excavating a depression or creating a ditch to capture the runoff. Plant this area with water-loving species, such as willows and alders. These plants can absorb lots of rain water.
Green Container Gardens
- For green container gardens, choose carefree plants that can withstand dry conditions. Examples are moss rose and Mediterranean-type herbs.
- Choose eco-friendly pots and planters made of wood from sustainably managed forests.
- Other green containers are made from various kinds of recycled or renewable materials. These pots use coir (a coconut by-product), straw, rice and grain hulls, recycled plastics, and recycled forest by-products.
- Once the plants are in the containers, add a layer of organic mulch, such as pine bark mulch or nuggets. This will keep the potting soil moist.
For potting soil, use peat-free alternatives. A number of brands contain sustainable materials, such as bark chips, compost, and coir.
Pesticides and Fertilisers for Green Gardens
- Choose natural or organic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilisers. Examples include BT for caterpillars, baking soda-based fungicides, and insecticidal soaps.
- Instead of chemical herbicides, use organic mulches to help control weeds. When a pre-emergent is needed, apply corn gluten in early spring to smother weed seeds.
- Use pesticides only when necessary. Choose the least toxic option. Apply as directed on the label.
- Compost and leaf mold can provide nutrients for plants, reducing the need for fertilisers. Use the proper amount of fertiliser. Over-fertilised plants are more likely to attract pests.