Here at Design Heights we care about the environment and a greener lifestyle, we want to give our followers some ideas on how to make changes and improvements in their gardens, to help make their gardens more environmentally friendly. Eco-friendly gardening has many benefits for both people and planet, and you can make a difference in even the smallest garden. Everyone has the opportunity to make a positive impact. Even a window-box full of pollinator-friendly flowers will have a positive effect. 

Did you know; there are about 30 million gardeners in the UK, and this has amazing potential if we all take a step in a greener direction. The total area of our gardens put together is more than half a million hectares – about the size of Norfolk!!

How to Make Your. Garden More Environmentally Friendly

#1 – Go Native: 

One of the best ways to attract wildlife to your garden is to fill it with as many native plants as possible. A plant is considered native if it has occurred naturally in a particular region, ecosystem, or habitat without human introduction. Exotic plants that evolved in other parts of the world or were cultivated by humans into forms that don’t exist in nature, usually do not support indigenous wildlife as well as native plants.

Photo by Will on Unsplash

Well known varieties include the Primrose (Primula vulgaris), one of Britain’s favourite flowers, the pale-yellow spring blooms are set against clumps of zesty green foliage. They sometimes open as early as December in the mildest areas. 

Another not so well known native, is the Cheddar pink (Dianthus gratianopolitanus). Common to Cheddar Gorge and a few nearby sites. It’s short stems carry single early summer flowers in pink or pale purplish shades popular with butterflies and hawkmoths. Ideal in gravel or raised beds. 

There are some great native wild flower seed mixes you can buy online nowadays, have a look at pictorial meadows and Beth Chatto Plants for natives to suit various conditions. 

#2 – Plant A Tree:  

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Planting trees helps to combat global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide, removing and storing carbon while releasing oxygen back into the air. Trees also reduce wind speeds and cool the air as they lose moisture and reflect heat upwards from their leaves.

The most environmentally friendly trees to plant are the broadleaved species – such as oak, beech and maple because they have a larger surface area of leaves which generates more photosynthesis, whereas conifers absorb more heat. However these will get too big for most gardens. 

You want a tree that won’t grow much above 3-5m high, it’s often worth obtaining a multi-stem version so all the growing goes into each stem further limiting the growth. I’m fond of, Acer campestre, some varieties of Prunus, Ilex aquifolium or Hawthorns.

#3 – Grow Your Own:

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Organically grown food reduces air and water pollution as herbicides or pesticides are not used. Home-grown food does not need to be transported from source to market. This reduces air pollution as planes, ships, trucks and cars are not used to bring the food to your plate. 

The truth is that almost anyone can grow their own food with very little space and without spending too much money. The first step is to assess your space and decide where you want your plants to grow. Next you need to decide what you want to grow, which will depend in part of the aspects of the location. 

You can pick from three categories: herbs, fruits (including nuts) and vegetables. I would suggest you choose a variety of crops that you can harvest at different times of the year. This will help keep you motivated and teach you how to grow a diverse group of foods. With a few purchases and a good amount of organisation and preparation you will be ready to plant. 

Lastly make a calendar for your plants, research and make notes reminding you when to plant, water, prune, and harvest your chosen crops plus notes on what worked, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful home food producer.

#4 – Get Composting:

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Organic waste in landfills generates, methane, a potent greenhouse gas. By composting wasted food and other organics, methane emissions are significantly reduced. Compost reduces and, in some cases, eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers. Compost promotes higher yields of agricultural crops.

Did you know as much as 25% of the items in your bin could potentially be removed from the waste stream and composted in your back garden? Your fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, grass clippings and leaves can all be composted. While composting requires a little more effort, it will provide you with a beneficial return on your investment of time and effort. Depending on the conditions, you may have compost in 3 to 12 months to use in your garden. 

You’ll save on fertilizers and if you grow your own vegetables, you’ll likely see improved yields. The organic matter will also act as a sponge to absorb more water, meaning you might not need to water your plants as much, saving you money and time. Even better than composting your scraps, you can re-grow food from things like onion butts, the ends of leeks, the ends of lettuce, mushroom stalks, and more.  

#5 – Conserve Water:

Photo by David Ballew on Unsplash

Water conservation is essential, so install a butt on every downpipe – you can choose weathered oak barrels or the ubiquitous green plastic tubs. If you have the space, consider an underground rain tank. Larger ones can easily collect enough water for the average garden, plus you can set them up to flush your WC. Clever cost-cutting irrigation helps too. 

Don’t use a sprinkler on the garden – water the roots of plants without wasting it on the leaves; repair leaky pond liners; buy large pots for plants as they don’t dry out as quickly; and don’t mow the lawn too low in hot weather or even better go for No or limited mowing in the summer months.

#6 – Feed The Birds:

A great way to attract more birds to your garden is to simply put out left-over titbits. Hanging a bird feeder from a tree or scattering bird seed over the lawn will have your eco-friendly garden filled with bird song in no time – but why not go one step further and create a bird feeder from scratch? 

There are plenty of resources online that demonstrate ingenious ways to create a bird feeder at home, using recycled materials such as plastic bottles, glass jars or scrap wood. While you’re at it, you can get creative in the kitchen and bake some tasty bird treats to hang up in the garden. And remember, feeding birds in winter is vital to them returning year-on-year.

Getting Started!

Feeling overwhelmed with where to start your more sustainable life? I am sure this is a common feeling as there are so many options. However, like most things in life it’s better just to make a start and build from there. So chose the easiest option from all our suggestions, once you’re doing that task as part of your routine then add another and so on….every little really does count!