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.
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.
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!