Britain’s 15 million gardens comprise over one million acres of land. So it stands to reason that if those one million acres are being treated with harsh chemicals and stripped of their natural flora and fauna, it will have a fairly big impact on the eco-system. Here’s how to embrace green gardening and do your bit for the environment. See “How to Make Your Garden Eco-Friendly” for more information.

Ditch the chemicals

There are plenty of ways to control pests other than chemical pesticides. Sprays may kill pests but they also kill their natural predators which upsets your garden’s ecology.

Biological controls involve one tiny organism killing another and are effective at tackling everything from slugs to vine weevils. Alternatively, use old-fashioned barriers and traps such as ‘beer pubs’, where slugs fall into a puddle of beer.

Enrich your soil

Healthy soil means healthy plants, which can stand up to pests and diseases. Improve your soil by digging in well-rotted manure, leaf mould or compost. This will increase its fertility and improve its structure – important for aeration and holding water. It will also help stop weeds stealing nutrients from your plants.

Make your own compost

It couldn’t be easier: just throw in household waste such as cardboard, teabags, peelings and eggshells and then dig it back into your garden. Packed with nutrients, it’ll do your garden a whole lot of good.

Protect the peat

Britain’s peat bogs are valuable wildlife habitats but in the last 50 years over 90% have been destroyed or damaged. You can easily garden without peat. Check for the words ‘peat free‘ on compost packaging. Ideally, it’ll be organic and locally-produced too.

Choose your plants carefully

Plant ‘ecologically’ by selecting plants whose natural habitat resembles your garden: they’ll be much more likely to thrive. Check the label for details. Try to plant some native species too as so much of their natural habitat has been lost. Beware of imported plants which may bring in imported pests and disrupt the ecosystem.

Save water

The best time to water is in the evening; it’s not as effective during the day because of evaporation. It’s also much more economical to collect rainwater in a water butt and use a can instead of a hose.

Attract wildlife

Our gardens are becoming important havens for wildlife. A pond is one of the best habitats you can provide, as is a wildflower area (buy wildflower seed packs from your local garden centre). The birds, insects and butterflies that visit your garden will not only give you pleasure, they’ll munch on the pests that munch your plants too!

Making little changes in your garden can significantly benefit its productivity. Eco-fitting is the updating of existing elements of your garden space and the addition of new ones to make it more self-sustaining and less wasteful. The eco-fitting ethos is to reuse and recycle to transform a dull and lifeless garden into a productive and planet-friendly area. It enables the garden to become a self-sufficient space, reliant on renewable sources of energy and a friendlier place to wildlife.

Small Changes

It is important to remember that you do not have to undertake an eco-fit all at once; you can start off small and let your ideas grow as your eco-friendly garden begins to blossom. Simply growing more flowers to attract pest-controlling insects can give immediate results and boost biodiversity within the garden.

Flowers Garden

Strategic planting can help to ward off pests. Companion planting, where two or more plants are grown close together, can prevent one crop being destroyed by pests or disease. The implementation of a vegetable plot can revitalise the lawn into a decorative kitchen garden.

Wildlife & Habitats

Encouraging wildlife is a fundamental feature to making a garden eco-friendly and adding habitats creates a beneficial garden ecosystem. Welcome friendly bugs, such as ladybugs and lacewings, which eat insect pests that destroy crops. To achieve this, plant bright flowers such as sunflowers and marigolds to attract the bugs and create places where they can shelter and lay eggs. Invite birds which eat slugs, snails, grubs, caterpillars and other pests that destroy plants into the garden by putting up bird feeders and nesting boxes.

Sunlight

Sunlight is a practical way of turning a garden into an eco-friendly space. For example, a lean-to greenhouse warms up as it absorbs sunlight energy, in turn creating a space to grow edible and decorative plants. Using solar panels can charge batteries to operate shed and landscape lights. Judging by the ever-changing weather, it is also important to harvest rainwater and use it resourcefully. Rainwater from the roof of a greenhouse or shed can be stored in attached recycled plastic water butts.

Controlling Pests

There are a variety of products available on the market, but it’s also a great opportunity to get inventive and create your own. Deterring formidable pests, such as slugs and snails, from entering a garden space will ensure it is kept productive and flourishing. Use a band of copper, water-displacement spray or petroleum jelly around containers or slug pellets that are not harmful to wildlife or children as reliable methods of control. Setting up traps is an effective way of catching garden pests. Sticky yellow sheets are great for flying insects. To catch slugs, sink yoghurt cups filled with milk or beer into the ground.

Flypaper

Compost

Composting is another efficient way to make your garden more eco-friendly. When setting up a compost bin, it is important to make sure it’s in a warm, partly sunny site on top of some soil. All garden and kitchen waste can also be composted in recycled wooden bins and then returned to the garden to improve the soil.

Recycling Materials

Using recycled materials is a really important attribute of an eco-fitted garden. Not only is it environmentally friendly, it’s also cost-effective. All kinds of everyday packaging and old plastic and wooden containers can be recycled into pots for plants.