Sustainability is a hot topic wherever you look. At its core, a sustainable lifestyle aims to use as preserve valuable resources and to have a little negative impact on the environment as possible. Gardeners are perhaps already ahead of the curve when it comes to sustainable living. Fresh vegetables from your own backyard or patio are as local as it gets. Planting beautiful landscapes of flowers not only cleans the air but also supports the lives of pollinators which, in turn, support our lives. Though we are trying to do our part, there are always ways to improve. Here are some tips to use resources in an eco-minded way and garden sustainably.
Composting green waste is one of the best ways to create a sustainable garden. Recycling grass clippings, deadheaded flowers, food waste, and dried leaves makes nutrient-rich soil amendments that can boost the productivity of your garden. It also reduces the amount of organic materials that end up in landfills. This is important because when organic materials breakdown in an environment lacking in oxygen (like when buried under layers and layers of garbage), it produces methane which is 25 times better at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
Growing organic is not only healthier for you, but also healthier for the environment. Pesticides have many undesirable effects including, but not limited to, polluting the air and contaminate the soil. They are also non-specific ways of killing insects in the garden. That means that it kills beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, along with the unwanted pests. The use of these chemicals is strongly linked to declining pollinator populations, which can result in catastrophic consequences for human life. The more you stay away from pesticides, the better you’ll be.
There are many alternatives that can be used; beneficial insects, jets of water, and safer soap to name a few.
Water is an essential resource and the past few years of summer droughts really show how much we need it. There are many ways to be conserve water:
- Mulching all uncovered soil will help to retain water in the soil and help improve both soil structure and weed control
- Reducing/eliminating lawns or just letting your lawn go brown dormant
- Plant drought tolerant or native plants
- Group plants with similar watering needs
- Weed often
Installing rain barrels or other water collection systems can also be extremely beneficial. And when you do have to water, make sure you are watering smart. Only water when your plants need it but water deeply by hand at the root zone of the plant to avoid wastage. Metro Vancouver has a great site with tips for conserving water.