Wild garden shed

The UK has over 23 million gardens, accounting for around 4,440km2 of land. That’s more than a fifth of the size of Wales. If we all did our best to green our gardens, we could really do something to help all the British wildlife vulnerable to extinction – as well as lower our carbon emissions.

What’s more, gardening’s not just good for the planet, it’s scientifically-proven to be good for your health and wellbeing too. Getting back to nature is a win all-round.

Here are some tips for greening your green space:

Ditch the plastic grass

Fake grass is a no-no. It depletes soil health and deprives vital pollinators, earth worms and insects of a home. Its carbon footprint is also sky high, as plastic is made from fossil fuels.  Moreover, a fake lawn doesn’t capture and store carbon emissions like grass lawns or real plants in real soil do.

Also try to avoid paving over your garden. Green gardens reduce flooding, store carbon, provide homes for bees and other essential creatures, keep cities cool in the summer and help us all feel happier.

Say no to the mow!

Put your feet up and let nature take over. Leave a section of your lawn to grow wild. The RSPB has an online guide, as birds are dependent on insects for food – and bugs are in short supply in short lawns.

The Eden Project’s website has a section on how to plant a wild meadow at home. You can buy wildflower ‘plug plants’ online, but make sure they’re from the UK – to ensure they’re right for our climate and free from unexpected pests.

Keep it chemical-free

Try to avoid artificial fertilisers and pesticides. Natural ecosystems are all about balance. Introducing toxins harms much more than the weeds or pests you’re targeting. For fertilisers, you can make your own compost. The charity Garden Organic has an online guide. Alternatively, buy organic fertilisers. When it comes to naturally removing pests and controlling plant diseases, the  Royal Horticultural Society offers online advice.

Create a veg patch

You can save yourself cash if you grow some vegetables. It’s a great project to do with kids. Start with a single container. To find out which seeds can be planted when, perhaps take a look at the YouTube channel of gardener Charles Dowding – one of the most popular British gardening ‘influencers’ and an expert on showing how to grow food using less time and space.

Butterfly in wild garden

Encourage wildlife

Insects are vital to the health of your garden. Bees especially need our help. Create homes for them with bug and bee hotels. The Natural History Museum offers online guides. You can also make a wormery, as more worms mean better soil. Find out how on The Wildlife Trust’s website.

Put out some water for birds and insects to drink, especially in the summer months.

Low carbon your lighting

Try and use solar-powered lights. It’s a good idea to put them on a timer to switch off at night, to avoid negatively impacting nocturnal animals and migratory birds.

Make sure your furniture is sustainable

As ever, if your current garden furniture is still usable, the most eco-friendly thing to do is to keep on using it. We’ve got into the bad habit of throwing away things that are still in perfectly good working order, just because we want a newer version. It’s a habit we need to try and ditch.

When your existing furniture has worn out, try and replace it with something sustainable that won’t end up spending centuries in landfill. The best options in terms of materials are FSC-certified wood, preferably from British trees. Reclaimed wood is another good choice and can give a real artisan, handcrafted look.

Green Gardening

Often green gardening means doing less work and saving you money. You can mow more sporadically and weed less. You don’t need to spend on chemical fertilisers or pesticides. The result will hopefully be that you won’t just be doing something good for local wildlife and the planet, you’ll actually have more time to enjoy your garden. Of course, it does require a certain mental shift when it comes to aesthetics. It’s all about embracing nature’s glorious abandon rather than prioritising neat and pristine borders. The thing is, if we all start making our outside spaces greener, we could have a hugely positive effect on the UK’s dwindling wildlife species and plummeting insect numbers – as well reducing our carbon footprints! A win for nature is always going to be a win for people too.

 

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