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GARDENING FOR SUSTAINABILITY

Whether you have a small city plot or a large countryside garden, there are plenty of ways to cultivate a more eco-friendly outside space. Here are some sustainable gardening tips designed to maximise the environmental benefits.

Embrace Seasonality

Growing your own can help save you money and cut down on food packaging.

Plant vegetables and fruits suited to the Devon climate, to ensure a delicious harvest throughout the growing season.

Conserve Water

Fresh water is a precious resource. To conserve water in your garden:

  1. Consider installing a water butt to collect rainwater for watering your plants.
  2. Use mulch around your plants to retain moisture in the soil and reduce the need for frequent watering.
  3. Take advantage of the cool mornings in hot weather by watering your plants early. This allows them to absorb the water before the heat of the day causes evaporation.
  4. Placing containers close together can create a humid micro-climate, which can stop them from drying out. 


Devon residents can get offers on water butts at GetComposting

Practice Organic Pest Control

Avoid using chemical pesticides and herbicides in your garden, as these can harm beneficial insects and pollinators. Instead, use natural pest control methods, such as companion planting and encouraging predators like ladybirds and lacewings.

Handpicking pests and regularly inspecting your plants for signs of damage can also help prevent infestations. Consider creating a bug hotel using natural wood, stones, and bamboo.

A bug hotel will provide a refuge for beneficial insects like ladybirds and lacewings, which will help control garden pests naturally.

Compost Organic Waste

Turn your kitchen scraps and garden waste into nutrient-rich compost for your garden. Composting helps to reduce methane (a potent greenhouse gas) which can be produced if organic waste is not disposed of properly. Using compost improves soil fertility and structure. Create a compost heap in a corner of your garden, and remember to regularly turn and aerate the compost to speed up decomposition – or Devon residents can get offers on compost bins at www.getcomposting.com

You can find out more on the Recycle Devon website: https://www.recycledevon.org/in-the-garden/how-to-compost

Support Wildlife

Create a wildlife-friendly garden by providing food, water, and shelter for birds, bees, butterflies, and other wildlife. As the seasons change and become less predictable due to climate change wildlife needs our help, for instance flowers and the pollinator associated with them might not emerge at the same time. Plant a diverse range of flowering plants that bloom throughout the year to attract pollinators. Install bird feeders, bird baths, and insect hotels to encourage biodiversity. Leave areas of your garden wild and untamed to provide habitat for small mammals and insects. Native hedges also provide a fantastic habitat for wildlife. 

Go Organic

Choose organic fertilisers and soil amendments to nourish your plants without introducing harmful chemicals into the environment. Organic gardening practices focus on building healthy soil through the use of compost, mulch, and natural amendments like seaweed and bone meal.

Traditional compost often contains peat, which is extracted from bogs and damages fragile ecosystems which are vital and significant carbon stores. If you cannot produce your own compost, opt for peat-free compost made from composted bark or wood fibres.

Rotate your crops annually to prevent soil depletion and reduce the risk of pests and diseases.

Hire or borrow

Hiring or borrowing garden equipment for special tasks is much cheaper than purchasing your own and you don’t have to  pay to have it maintained and repaired. Why not ask around your neighbourhood and start a gardening ‘tool share’ scheme?

You may have resources like a Shareshed or Library of Things in your area where you can borrow tools when you need them. Find out more at Recycle Devon.

Go plastic-free

Minimise waste in your garden by avoiding single-use plastic pots and containers. Opt for biodegradable or recyclable alternatives whenever possible. Consider starting seeds in homemade newspaper pots or reusable seed trays instead of plastic trays.

Upcycle old household items into planters, garden decorations, or irrigation systems to give them a new lease of life. By implementing these sustainable gardening practices, you can create a beautiful and productive garden while minimising your environmental impact.

Choose adaptable garden plants

More intense rainfall episodes and dryer summers mean gardens can get waterlogged or suffer drought. Consider planting feature rain gardens or drought tolerant plants in areas regularly affected. 

Find out more about recommendations for the South West of England: RHS Gardening in a Changing Climate report / RHS Gardening

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