The result of sustainable gardening means you’ll have less waste, use less chemicals, and overall, gardening will cost less.
1. Go Organic
Using less chemicals in your garden is more ecologically sound — and more cost effective. If you’re raising food for your family, gardening organically is even more important. Start from the ground up by building good soil, rich in nutrients; add natural compost to amend the soil. If you discover insect pests or plant disease in your garden, treat with organic solutions.
2. Mulch Your Landscape
Not only is mulching a great way to prevent weeds from springing up in your garden, it’s also an ideal method of conserving soil moisture. In areas with watering restrictions, this is especially important. Add a 2 to 3-inch layer of the mulch of your choice to your garden beds and around landscape plants. Sustainable mulch options include: shredded bark, cocoa bean hulls, pine needles, grass clippings, and coir (made from coconut hulls).
3. Plant Natives
Plants that are indigenous to your region are called natives. These plants take less work, usually require less water, and thrive better than other perennials because they are already suited to your climate, rainfall, and soil types. Additionally, native plant species provide food and shelter for the native insect and bird populations.
4. Lose Your Lawn (or part of it)
A gorgeous, green, and weed-free lawn uses a lot of resources. Water and fertilizer are needed to keep most lawns looking in top shape. You can have a more sustainable lawn by reducing the area planted in grass and replacing it with easy-care perennial ornamental grasses, low-growing shrubs, or groundcovers.
5. Water Less
Having a less thirsty garden is an important element of sustainability, especially in areas where water is scarce and restricted. Xeriscaping, the method of gardening and landscaping that reduces the need for watering, incorporates a wide variety of attractive drought-tolerant shrubs and perennials. To collect water from Mother Nature, install a rain barrel at the base of one or more of your downspouts.
6. Grow Your Own Food
Growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs is satisfying, easy, and delicious. Plus, raising some of your own food is part of a sustainable lifestyle. Plant intensively and by season. Crops, such as greens and lettuce, sprout quickly in the spring but die out in summer’s hot temps. Beds can be inter planted with hot-weather crops such as tomatoes and peppers. When autumn temps cool down, you can sow cool weather crops again, getting three seasons of food from the same area.
7. Plant Perennials
Long-lived perennials are an excellent way to get more bang from your gardening buck. Choose perennials that are adapted to your USDA Zone. To save money, you can buy small perennials; they’ll get bigger and better every year. Every couple years, they need to be divided which gives you more plants to enlarge your garden or share with friends.
8. Save Seeds
When annual flowers go to seed at the end of the season, collect their dried seed heads and store them in a dry place all winter. You can sow the seeds in your garden next spring. Try this with marigold, sunflower, and morning glory.
One the best ways to enjoy a sustainable garden is to compost your green waste. Grass clippings, deadheaded flowers, and dried leaves can be turned into a nutrient-rich soil amendment in a compost pile.
10. Mow with an Electric or Manual Mower
Using a gas-powered lawn mower for an hour pollutes the air as much as driving a car for 45 miles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency at epa.gov. If you’d like to reduce your carbon footprint, consider manually operated lawn-care equipment, or use electric mowers, trimmers, and blowers.