As our awareness of the environment grows, our daily actions immediately come into question. We now realize that what we bring into our house and what we throw out of it has a direct influence on our habitat. And our respect for the land is imminent for future generations, so sustainability is top priority for us in many ways.
What is Sustainable Gardening?
Sustainability is the ability to maintain a balance between all elements within the equation. Sustainability, as it relates to the garden, is the concept of working the land without damaging the soil and surrounding occupants.
How to Create a Sustainable Garden
Before you go all-in and redo the entire yard, there are simple steps to start implementing right now as you thrive for a more sustainable landscape:
Be water-conscious. Water is an incredibly precious resource. It’s so vital to our well-being that towns regulate the days, times, and amounts of water you can use for exterior projects, such as watering lawns or newly planted trees. Manage your output by cutting back on watering the lawn, and allow the roots to grow deeper. This will make the grass more sustainable in times of drought. And If you’re installing a new landscape or preparing a vegetable garden that will need water, consider collecting rainwater to keep your plants thriving.
Use mulch to help manage excessive watering. Mulching around newly installed tree and shrubs will immediately help retain moisture right where the plants need it most. Additionally, using mulch as a groundcover for your entire landscape, instead of rock, will help rainwater reach all your plants along with natural nutrients!
Go organic.The underlying premise for sustainability is to do right by the environment, and using chemicals for your lawn, landscape and otherwise, can be harmful and sometimes unnecessary. Selecting organic products to maintain your lawn’s lush appearance, grow the largest tomatoes, or keep your petunias flowering is a happy medium.
Plant more. Adding more plants to your landscape might seem counterintuitive to the water-wise suggestion made previously, but in the long run, the right plants will be a great benefit to your landscape. Trees, such as oaks, maples, and honey locusts, will grow to shade the lawn (for less watering to keep the grass green) and the house (for fewer utilities to maintain the interior temperatures). Perennials and ornamental grasses will provide seasonal color while stabilizing the ground with their expansive root structure.
Additionally, selecting plants native to your region is the ultimate goal for a sustainable landscape. Plants that naturally grow in your climate will require less watering, little to no fertilizing, and will easily thrive will little maintenance.
Minimize the green space. Anyone who knows me knows that a lush, green lawn is not a top choice in my playbook, especially if it’s high maintenance. And sustainable gardening practices agree. Adding garden beds with native perennials and grasses will minimize the amount of water and mowing required for a lawn. Plus, if designed for the seasons, you’ll have a picturesque view all year round.
Grow your own food. Another way to cut back on the lawn is to make space for an edible garden. Growing your own vegetables, berries, and herbs not only minimizes your trips to the grocery store, but it’s also an opportunity to teach younger generations how to be self-sufficient.
A self-sustaining garden or landscape doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Start with a few ideas and grow from there. Mother Nature will thank you!