The weather is notoriously temperamental in the UK, but as temperatures improve (albeit slowly), now could be the perfect time for a bit of gardening. If you’re thinking about sprucing up your borders, carrying out essential drain repairs, or generally pottering about, however, it’s important to protect the environment as you beaver away.
With this mind, here are five eco-friendly tips for garden lovers:
1. Reduce your water consumption
With the amount it rains in the UK, you’d think a drought would be unlikely – but that’s not the case. In fact, a water crisis was declared at the start of 2012 (one of the wettest years in history), so it’s essential not to take the elements for granted. Instead, use cans and buckets for watering instead of hosepipes as this will keep your water consumption down and make sure sprinklers only come on at set times of the day – and aren’t causing unnecessary floods. What’s more, you could even collect precipitation in storage units and throw this over your plants if things get a bit dry.
2. Avoid chemical-ridden weed killers
If there’s one thing that can destroy the look of gardens, pathways and laws – it’s weeds! They’re most gardeners’ nemesis, but it’s possible to get rid of them in an eco-friendly way. Firstly, if you’re using a shovel, try to remove each unwanted plant by the root as this will give them less chance of growing back (although some are fairly stubborn). Secondly, if you want to use some kind of spray, make sure it’s not ridden with horrible chemicals, as these are bad for the environment. Everything from boiling water to rock salt can do the trick, so leave those dangerous products on the shelves and go for a more natural alternative.
3. Use natural insect repellents
As with weed killers, insect repellent tends to contain a host of harmful ingredients. These can disrupt the natural life cycle of many creatures (aside from the ones you want to get rid of), so it’s well worth using something a little more natural. The bitter tree leaf neem is thought to deter an array of beasties from entering your garden, whereas salt spray is great for treating plants infested with spider mites. Many spices are also believed to be eco-friendly pesticides and deterrents, so you could always try growing rosemary, thyme, clove or mint to see if they do the trick.
4. Make your own compost
Why spend a fortune on bags of shop-bought compost when you can make your own? Lugging soil back from the shops takes time, energy and, of course, fuel in most cases, so keep hold of your old kitchen scraps and plant clippings and whip up some cost-effective fertilizer. While anything that was once living will compost, it’s worth mixing a range of things together to make the soil as rich as possible. A combination of green ingredients like nettles and grass cuttings combined with brown ingredients like cardboard and sawdust should work wonders, so give it a go!
5. Use old containers as plant pots
As you probably know, many young plants or seedlings need to be kept indoors (or in a greenhouse) until they can survive outside. To do this, you’ll need a variety of small containers or pots, so it’s worth recycling food tins, paper eggs cartons or anything else that will host a growing plant. Simply make sure anything you use is sparkling clean, before filling it with soil and poking some holes in the bottom so the water can drain. It really is that easy and you’ll save a fortune on plant pots from home stores or garden centers. Feeling creative? Then you could even decorate the pots or create your own labels to help you remember what you’re cultivating.
Eco-friendly gardening is both fun and satisfying, so do all you can to protect your patch of land – as well as the world around you.