Sustainable gardening

Be a sustainable gardener

Sustainable gardening is one of the most important and effective sustainability practices that we can follow. Its practice and benefits include 1) respecting and improving the soils, 2) using native plants, shrubs, and trees to create beautiful landscapes, 3) feeding one’s family fresh, organically-grown fruits, berries and vegetables, and 4) utilizing every renewable resource that nature provides, from rain water to rocks.

Here is a list of broad sustainable gardening principles and practices that will move you closer to the goal of gardening sustainability. Not only will the practices here reward future generations, they’ll make your gardens healthier and produce bigger yields.

Compost – Composting has the most impact of any sustainable gardening practice. Composting yard and garden wastes means less material going to the landfill and more organic material for your soil. Composting can be as simple as raking leaves over your garden when you put it to winter bed or as specific as indoor food composting with a compost bucket or worm bin. Compost also makes soils more friable which helps to conserve water.

Maintenance – How you care for your garden goes a long way towards attaining sustainability. Age-old practices like cultivating between plants with a long hoe not only suppresses weeds but aerates your soil. Avoid using chemical herbicides and toxic pesticides that poison the environment, insects, animals, and your family. Insteadoull weeds by hand and use natural substances to control pests (such as beer, vinegar, etc.)

Grow Native, Climate-Appropriate Plants – Check natural areas and talk to local garden experts for plants that are native or that thrive in your conditions. Find plants that (depending on your conditions) tolerate drought, high rainfall, seasonal flooding, high winds or snow. When growing vegetables, make sure the varieties you choose are hardy and high-yielding for your area. Taking these into account means using less soil additives and supplements, less water, and less overall effort to see them succeed.

Save Seed – Seed saving brings you more in-tune with your plants and assures that the seed you’ll plant does well. Start with the easiest seeds to save: peas, beans, peppers, tomatoes and go from there. You can also harvest flower seed taken from dried flowers. Hike fields and woodlands for harvest-able native plants and grasses. 

Garden Design – When sustainable gardeners design their gardens and landscapes, they consider all resource-conserving principles to protect their soil and plants. When building walks, walls or decks, look for recycled, environmentally-friendly building materials. When you buy sustainable, organic products, you’re supporting businesses that follow sustainable gardening practices which gives others in the community the chance to do the same.

Sustainable design also considers where plants are placed. Shade-loving plants are placed in the shadow of tall sun-loving plants, sun-loving plants are planted in places with the best exposure to light. Water-loving plants are grown where moisture collects, trailing plants are grown over terraces. Companion planting is an easy way to control pests and encourage growth. The more knowledge one has about plants and gardening, the better one’s landscape design.

Conserving Water Resources – Water is precious. It needs to be protected for quality and quantity. The sustainable gardener will utilize rain barrels and collection systems to provide water not taken from the draw-down of dwindling municipal or private sources. You can preserve water quality by not using herbicides or pesticides that will contaminate it as it percolates through the soil and heads back to the water supply. Water that drains away or ends up in a storm sewer is wasted. Control runoff with permeable soils. Use mulch and ground covers to enable soils to hold water, so it does not evaporate or drain away quickly. 

The goal is to use only the water nature provides, in the form of rain and runoff, achieved by harvesting it and storing it until needed. This is easier in some locations than others. Where rainwater collection is difficult or impossible, use direct water methods, such as a watering can, or some form of drip or direct irrigation to cut down on evaporation loss. Sprinkling systems are wasteful (through evaporation) and most plants, excluding ferns and other humidity lovers, don’t do as well watered with sprinklers.

Share knowledge with neighbours – The greatest tool you can use to pursue the goal of sustainability is knowledge. And the largest effect you can have on sustainability is to share that knowledge. A big part of making gardens and landscapes sustainable: passing on what you know.

Thanks to for the information.

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