Preserving our planet for future generations is what sustainability is all about. Many people are interested but aren’t quite sure what sustainability is and how they can become involved. An easy way to put this into practice right in your own home is by incorporating sustainable gardening into your yard and garden. Below we have defined exactly what sustainability is and how to start your own sustainable garden today!
“Sustainable” refers to the quality in which one is not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance. Sustainable gardening is one of the most significant and efficient sustainability methods. Its practice and benefits include respecting and improving the soils, using native plants, shrubs and trees to form stunning landscapes, eating from your own garden of organically-grown fruits, berries and vegetables and employing every renewable resource that nature provides, from rain water to gravel. The American Sustainable Sites Initiative defines sustainability in terms of gardening as a way to “protect, restore and enhance the ability of landscapes to provide ecosystem services that benefit humans and other organisms.”
Practicing sustainability is a way of protecting the environment through actions that benefit it or do it least harm. Sustainability not only embraces organic gardening methods but conservation of resources as well. Here are some ways to implement a sustainable garden and yard in your home.
We have discussed composting in other blogs but the importance of it requires repetition. As discussed in our blog on Using Biological Waste as Fertilizer, composting helps soil hold on to nutrients and water, benefiting your plants while reducing the risk of pollution. It is a natural process that turns organic material into a dark rich substance that is a wonderful conditioner for your soil that helps your plants grow bigger and better and to conserve water. Composting also has the most impact of any sustainable gardening practice. It can be as simple as taking leaves from your pond and raking them over your garden before winter or as specific as indoor food composting. The way you care for your garden goes a long way towards achieving sustainability. Avoid using chemical herbicides and toxic pesticides that are harmful to you and the environment. Get some exercise and do some hand digging to pull out those weeds. Using beneficial insects instead of pesticides or herbicides not only benefits your garden, it can become a learning experience in natural science for your children. Use native plants and select more drought tolerant grasses that require less mowing. This will reduce fossil fuels and conserve water. Check with local garden experts for plants that thrive in your conditions. Find plants that can tolerate drought or high rainfall and seasonal flooding. Also, plant a wide variety of plants, which can provide habitats for beneficial insects and reduce damage from periodic diseases. To start your vegetable garden, save seeds and plant in your yard. It’s best to start with peas, beans, peppers, and tomatoes. Finally, conserving water and controlling runoff helps immensely. The goal for conserving water is to use only the water nature provides. We touched on this in our blog on lowering your carbon footprint, for example by using rainwater collected in your pond to water your garden and yard. Ponds are useful as well in avoiding runoff in sewers. It is also suggested to use drip irrigation or soaker hoses instead of oscillating sprinklers as they result in less water loss due to evaporation.
Help protect our environment by implementing these useful tips. Living sustainably means living responsibly and will affect not just our lives but future generations to come!