How to be more eco-friendly in the garden
There’s no better feeling than sitting out in the garden of your new home, and if you’re an avid horticulturalist or plant geek, you’ll no doubt be excited to start making your garden unique.
To make sure we’re getting the most out of our outdoor spaces and giving nature a place to thrive, we caught up with the UK’s leading garden centre, Dobbies and their Horticultural Director, Marcus Eyles, to get his top tips on how we can implement sustainable practices into our gardens and be more eco-friendly.
How to Create an Eco-friendly Garden
Use pollinating plants to encourage wildlife
To give your garden an instant boost of colour and life, Marcus recommends planting wildflowers. Marcus says seed bombs are a simple, eco-friendly way to welcome all kinds of wildlife into your garden, and they require minimal effort and no experience, making them a great way to enjoy the garden with children. Easy to sow and grow, these are ideal for beds, borders and containers, meaning they’re suitable for outdoor spaces of all shapes and sizes. Simply prepare the soil by removing any stones and weeds and scatter the seed bombs over the area. Seed bombs don’t need to be buried, but you should make sure the area is kept well-watered to encourage growth, and you should start to see the seedlings grow in just a few weeks.
From seed bombs specifically aimed at attracting butterflies to pollinating varieties for bees, Dobbies has a wide selection that will fill your garden with colour and life. Popular flowers you’ll see grow from seed bombs include Pot Marigold, Cornflower, Chrysanthemum, California Poppy and Gypsophila.
For more inspiration on welcoming pollinators into your gardens, conservation wildlife charity RePollinate has plenty of advice on their website. You can find more plants for pollinators on the RHS website here.
Create a space for wildlife to shelter during the chilly winter months
As much as you may want to give your garden a good tidy-up before the winter season, Marcus says we should be mindful not to clear too much away. It can be tempting to completely get rid of all garden debris; however, leaving a layer of organic matter on the surface of beds and borders and underneath hedges and trees will give wildlife a place to shelter from the elements. Stacking logs together in a pile will also provide a sanctuary for animals like hedgehogs during the colder winter months. The British Hedgehog Preservation Society has pulled together an easy step by step guide on how gardeners can help hedgehogs and protect them throughout the year.
With regards to treating pests in autumn, Marcus says we should avoid using harsh chemicals and weed or pest killers in your garden, as these can be harmful to both wildlife and the environment. Instead, mulch well with peat-free compost to keep weeds at bay and ensure good soil health. If you have a pest problem, consider using an organic pest control instead of chemical options.
Dobbies’ own-brand peat-free compost is a fantastic choice for gardens year-round and will help give your beds, borders and containers a nutrient boost no matter the weather, as well as keeping weeds and pests at bay.
Collect and store rainwater for use in your garden to reduce water
When it comes to being more sustainable in the garden, Marcus says that autumn is a fantastic time to collect rainfall in water butts for use in the summer months. Any shed, greenhouse or garage can be used to collect water and conserve it for next summer as long as it has gutters and a downpipe to a drain at ground level. Doing this will help you reduce water usage in the event of a long dry spell next summer, and Marcus notes that rainwater is actually better for your plants as it has a lower pH than water from the mains. Gardens Illustrated has outlined some fantastic methods for how gardeners can collect water here.
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