April 10, 2014

A sustainable garden supports the local ecosystem without the use of chemicals to control weeds or spur growth. This concept extends to everything related to the garden, from the materials you use to encourage growth to the plants you place in your garden. Everything should be geared towards creating a thriving, continuous ecosystem. You enjoy the many benefits of a beautiful garden with the added peace of mind of knowing it’s good for the environment.


Understand Your Environment

Do some research to develop a better understanding of your environment. Visit a local nursery or gardening center. They should be able to give you more specific details about the soil and the local climate. You can also talk to like-minded individuals around your neighborhood to get some ideas. This will give you an idea of what to incorporate within your garden for healthy, sustainable growth.

Minimize Use of Power Tools/Equipment

In keeping with the basic concept of a sustainable garden, minimize your use of power tools and equipment while keeping up with your lawn care chores. This can include using manual hedge clippers and minimizing mowing. An optimal grass height is about 2 inches. It’s also better for the other plants, vegetables, and organisms living within your sustainable garden. As long as you’re at it, don’t forget to:

• Minimize the use of fertilizers and insecticides
• Recycle grass clippings as mulch
• Use rain barrels to provide water

Choose Your Plants

If you don’t already have trees, plant a few trees if you have the space. Trees help transfer carbon from the atmosphere to the soil. Choose different plant species to attract beneficial insects, birds, and animals to your garden. If you’re in an area where you have long periods without rain, look for drought-resistant plants. Pick some pollinating plants to attract bees to parts of your garden. If weeds are an issue in your neighborhood, leave little space for weeds to thrive. Typical sustainable garden plant selections include:

• Yarrow
• Lemon Balm
• Parsley
• Coriander
• Tansy

Create a Compost Heap/Bin

Either build a wooden box from scratch, purchase and convert a wooden crate, or make a wire tumbler. Avoid purchasing a plastic heap since it will look out of place. Make sure you have an opening for drainage. Use food scraps, coffee grounds, and grass clippings to create a compost heap or bin for use within your garden. Place worms in your compost to facilitate the process of decomposing. To avoid fruit flies, cover new scraps with dry grass clippings. Additional compost tips:

• Add lime or calcium to neutralize odors
• Add a wood or metal lid if animals are a problem
• Move your bin to different locations each growing season

By selecting the right plants for your sustainable garden, you won’t have as much work to do to keep everything green. Get everyone in your family in on the act, especially children. Since upkeep is minimal, kids can easily handle a few maintenance tasks after school or on weekends. Enjoy your sustainable garden.