Are you a green thumb who can’t imagine a dream home without your garden? Did you know that with a few simple tricks and choices, you can create a sustainable garden you can be proud of?
Sustainable gardening methods not only protect the environment, but they’ll also actually lead to the garden which thrives more in its surroundings. Let’s get our hands dirty, and take an in-depth look at creating a sustainable garden for your new home.
What makes a sustainable garden?
Sustainable gardens are all about reducing your impact on the environment and reducing your overall carbon footprint. This includes both what you plant and your ongoing sustainable gardening methods. Some that will make your garden sustainable include:
- Requires less maintenance and resources to survive.
- You recycle materials for your garden, whether you collect rainwater or compost.
- Your garden produces food
- The plants in your garden provide homes and food for wildlife
- You actively take steps to reduce your carbon footprint.
How do I create a sustainable garden?
A good garden is only as good as its foundation. How you prepare your site can be the deciding factor in how your garden turns out for years to come, so let’s have a look at some of the key ways you can improve your site.
Measure garden size
Any house plan or title should have the measurements of your block of land which will help you gauge proportions and reduce some of your measuring. Knowing all this will provide a better idea of what you’re working with and help create a plan and budget. Drawing plans on paper, even if it’s very rough, will help you plan out exactly what you want in your garden and estimate how large it will likely be. This will help you estimate costs and help you determine the types of plants and features you can realistically achieve.
Conduct site analysis
Preparation can make all the difference between a successful sustainable garden and one that struggles. Elements such as your soil, planning and design will make a world of difference.
- Figure out where North is. You can do this with a compass, GPS or map. By knowing where the north is, you’ll be able to determine where the sun rises and sets and knowing the
- Consider where any shading is, and where in your yard receives the most light
- Check your garden soil health
To avoid your garden becoming a mess, having a plan will a huge difference.
The best layout for your garden will depend on what you’re after. Are you looking for garden beds full of flowers and plants to create a great atmosphere or would you prefer a vegetable garden? Perhaps you’re after both? Whether you want exotic plants or fruit trees, garden design serves the purpose of helping your garden take an overall shape.
A landscape designer can help guide you through the process and help you create a more sustainable garden that still captures your vision.
Preparing the tools you will need
Quality tools are essential for any gardener, from beginner to pro. Some of the essential tools every gardener needs include:
- Pruning Sheers
- Hand trowel
- Garden hose with adjustable nozzle
- Watering can
Consider budget & wants
What do you ultimately want from your garden? Consider this step as your mission statement or brief: the bit where you specify the big details.
Saying you want a garden is like saying you want a house. It’s a starting point, but it’s without further details, it’s a very broad statement. Consider what the main purpose of your garden will be or what you want to get out of it. Are you after a nice area to relax? Do you want somewhere that will attract pollinators and natural wildlife? Perhaps you’re planning a vegetable garden or you have specific plants and flowers in mind.
Unless you’re in a situation where money isn’t a hurdle, it’s in your best interest to plan a budget for your garden. Having a firm idea of how much you’re willing to spend will help you avoid overspending, and you may be surprised how far you can make a dollar go with a little research and savvy.
When it comes to creating a budget for your garden, think about what is essential and what you’d like but could live without. This is where having a list of needs and goals will help you shape a realistic and achievable budget.
The plants you choose can be the difference between a thriving, sustainable garden and one that will struggle to survive. For a sustainable garden, you want plants that are native to your area rather than imports, as these will be more likely to do well. Local council websites often have lists of local plants that are native to the areas.
Choose resilient plants
Indigenous plants have a considerable advantage as they’ve evolved to thrive in your local environment. This makes native plants by far the most sustainable choice for your garden. Another plus is plants that are appropriate for your climate will grow naturally bigger and stronger.
Imported plants or non-native plants will require more resources and effort to keep alive. They also may interfere with the native surroundings by thriving too much (this is basically how weeds and invasive species cause so much havoc). While exotic plants will require a lot of work, native plants need less maintenance and will be more likely to succeed.
Avoid planting invasive plant species as these will thrive at the expense of native plants. Planting native plants give your garden a great Australian look that will also give back to the environment.
Native plants are more likely to attract animals like parrots and maybe even a koala if you have some gum trees. The right flowers and plants can provide habitats to beneficial insects and reduce the harm from periodic diseases. Butterflies, birds and bees are all essential pollinators that will help your plants. This sends your sustainable garden rating through the roof by giving homes to the native animals.
Mulching and composting
Mulching and composting are essential processes any gardener should be familiar with. While often used interchangeably, mulch and compost are two distinct processes that have specific meanings. Knowing the difference will help you plan and care for your garden.
What’s the difference between the two?
Compost is a biologically active material that’s the result of organic matter breaking down (food waste for example).
Meanwhile, mulch is any material that covers the soil. This material can be organic or inorganic and still be considered mulch.
What’s compost used for?
So how is each used? Compost is usually used once the organic matter has broken down to the consistency of soil. Compost plays a vital role in providing nutrient-rich soil for your plants. Homemade compost can be made from old food waste, which is a fantastic way to make the most of banana peels and apple cores. spoilt vegetables and eggshells You can also use cow or horse manure or buy premade compost from any gardening store.
Compost can ever be mixed into pre-existing soil or be placed on top of the soil and allowed to sink into the garden.
What’s mulch for?
Mulch is better suited for laying on top of your garden bed to help discourage weed growth and help moderate the temperature of your soil. It’s important to remember, mulch is not intended to be mixed into your soil the way compost is. Mulch is available in organic and inorganic varieties. Organic means it’s made from something that was once alive, such as trees, wood chips, grass clippings, etc). Inorganic mulch on the other hand is made from material that was never alive, which can range from natural resources like stone, rocks and gravel, to manufactured products like plastic and fabric.
To keep with the sustainable theme of your new garden, we recommend using organic mulch over a synthetic ones. Not only is it better for the environment, but it’ll also actually break down and provide nutrients to your plants.
Make use of recycled materials where possible
Recycling is a great way to cut down on manufacturing emissions and cut down on your local landfill. It’s also a fantastic opportunity for your creative side to shine and give your garden a unique character and charm. Just some ideas for recycling materials in your garden include:
- Using egg cartons, paper cups, and cupcake holders for seedlings
- Use recycled wood and metal for bed frames, compost bins or even a birdhouse.
- Speaking of birdhouses, as long as they can store food, won’t harm the birds and provides them somewhere to perch, they can be a birdhouse. This includes old cans of non-toxic paint, old pet dishes or any book-like structure.
- A plastic bottle can be turned into a makeshift greenhouse.
- Old furniture can be used as a feature or somewhere to chill and enjoy your garden.
- Turn an old milk bottle into a watering can by poking holes in the side.
These are just a few ideas, but the possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Our main piece of advice is to ensure whatever material you’re using isn’t toxic in some way or potentially dangerous to the local wildlife.
Zero waste garden
Zero-waste gardening is an idea that has been around for generations but has gained momentum recently with environmental concerns being more on people’s minds. The concept of zero-waste gardening is about taking as many steps as you can to reduce your garden’s carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions. Performing many of the above steps such as composting, recycling materials and planting native plants all contribute to this, but here are a few more ideas:
- Buy quality garden tools that will last over cheap products you’ll need to replace.
- Only buy what your need. Though that deal for two pairs of garden gloves is tempting, will you use two pairs?
- Consider using grey water to water your plants and gardens
- Using a tank or rain barrel to collect water
Get free advice on building a sustainable garden
Building a new home is one of the biggest journeys you’ll ever go on. The great news is you don’t have to go it alone. Buildi is a building broker who is here to represent your industry and give the client power and agency in the building game. To find out how we can help you with your new home, get in touch today!