What does sustainable gardening mean?

6 years ago | by

accessibility Coffs harbour

Sustainable gardening is one of those terms we hear but only have a vague understanding about. That’s because sustainable gardening is a vague concept, it’s a blend of a whole range of practises. In a nutshell it means anything you do to improve your garden while supporting the environment. Sustainable gardening reduces the strain on the environment but can also reduce the strain on your back pocket.

Choosing the correct plants is one of the most important aspects of making your garden sustainable. Native plants are best suited to the environment. Local plants are similar to native plants as they are grown from local genetic stock and have adapted to the climate and soil. Before you purchase plants have a think about how they will look and behave in your garden. Will they provide shade, privacy, smell or look nice. Will they grow tall, drop leaves, become hard to maintain. Talk to your local nursery about what native or local plants they have and how they will work in your garden. Some of the benefits of using native or local plants in your garden:

• They are acclimatised to the temperature and environment so have a higher survival rate.
• Reduce the cost of maintenance and upkeep as they need less watering and fertilising
• Reduce the amount of weeds
• They flower at different times of the year, so that your garden continues to have colour and will change throughout the seasons.
• Can attract and provide a natural habitat for local wildlife

Growing your own food
Growing plants that provide food is a large part of sustainable gardening. Whatever the size of your garden there is a way to grow herbs, fruit or vegetables. Providing you and your family with healthy nutritious food is a good way to save money and promote healthy eating.

There are many options for planting edible plants that allow easy access for maintenance and harvesting. Raised garden beds, pots and trellis can be used in any garden and provide an easy way for you to grow your own food. Add a bench or chair to your garden so you have somewhere to relax and a comfortable place to tend your garden.

Designing your Garden
By designing your garden first you can reduce maintenance and save time and money on watering and fertilising. Placing plants with similar watering needs together works well in reducing watering costs. Planting a break wall of plants to absorb water and nutrient run off reduces erosion and maximises watering and fertilising. Using mulch and shrubs reduces erosion and soil loss from water run-off.

Tips for Sustainable Ground Cover
Constant mowing and watering costs money and takes time. By choosing a good ground cover you can lower maintenance and cut down on your water consumption. Using a native grass such as Wallaby or Kangaroo reduces the amount of fertilising and watering needed. If the lawn takes up a lot of area consider putting in some native groundcovers such as shrubs and mulch. These can look great and are easier to maintain.

When mowing the lawn cut the grass long as it will encourage deeper roots which in turn protects the grass from drought or heat. However in areas of high activity it is best to cut it shorter to prevent you from tripping or falling.

Mow lawn when it is dry and leave clippings on the grass. Lawn cuttings contain nutrients and are a form of mulch. Never dump grass clippings in the bush as that introduces foreign seeds into a natural environment.

Reducing Water Use
Placing plants with similar watering needs together is a great way of reducing water usage. Place water loving plants in shady, moist areas. Use mulch and ground cover to contain water and keep the soil moist.

Drip water systems are a good way of watering plants and helps reduce water wastage. Long slow watering is better and timers can be used for watering at the optimum times of the day. Watering in the early morning or late evening reduces evaporation and saves water.

Rainwater is the best source of water, if possible a water tank is a great option for you and your garden. Town water contains salts and chemicals which can be harmful to the graden overtime.

Recent studies have shown that using bore water can be detrimental to the environment. Taking water from existing bores can take water from natural habitats like wetlands and forests that rely on these water sources.

Storm Water Run Off
Storm water run-off can be extremely detrimental to the environment. Storm water gathers rubbish, top soil, fertiliser and pesticides, then deposits it all into natural water systems such as creeks and rivers. Redirecting the water to your garden can save money on watering and reduce the loss of top soil from your garden. Raised garden beds, shrubs, mulch and trees can help reduce storm water run-off and enhance your garden.

Pesticides and Fertilisers
Pesticides and Fertilisers are filled with chemicals and are dangerous for the environment. You can reduce the need of them by using native or local plants. For a more natural type of fertiliser you can make your own compost. Collecting household waste such as garden clippings, food scraps, tissues, paper towels, hair and dust reduces the amount of garbage going into landfill. All of these can then be used in a compost system to fertilise your lawn and garden. There are several options for composting; Kitchen compost bin, compost heap or a worm farm. It depends on the size of your garden and amount of waste as to what type would suit you. Some of the benefits of using compost include:

• It is full of beneficial nutrients
• Improves drainage in heavy soil
• Absorbs and contains water, reducing the amount of watering required
• Helps water and air circulation in the soil
• Holds nutrients in the soil
• Maintains the temperature of the soil
• Reduces waste going into landfill

The Danger of Weeds?
Weeds are any plant that grow wild and pose a threat to cultivated plants. Weeds take nutrients, water and sunlight from other plants and become invasive. When weed seeds are distributed to creeks and water ways they pollute them and can smother native plants harming the natural environment. Keeping weeds to a minimum and removing them before planting new plants can greatly improve the health of your garden.

These are just a few ideas to get you started on creating a sustainable garden. Talk to the Lawn Mowing and Garden Maintenance team at East Coast Accessibility Experts, they can offer advice and help get you started. Your local nursery can help with local and native plants and with sustainable gardening ideas.