Recent changes to our climate have meant shorter winters and warmer summers which will definitely affect our gardens and how we garden. Some growing seasons will be extended. This can be a bonus but obviously that will bring mean more mowing, weeding and pruning jobs. Good for Greengage staff but not necessarily for our environment.
As gardeners, we can do a lot to help reduce our impact on the environment. For gardeners; planting new plants, encouraging wildlife and being mindful of the environment are all a natural part of the process. But it’s always worth having a think about your gardening practices and checking if you can do even more.
Water butts are a great place to begin. Collect rain water to use on plants and gardens. It will save you money, time and help reduce wasted water. Even better, if you can develop your own systems to recycle water or harvest more water from rooftops and other surfaces.
Plant pots are a necessity for gardeners and most garden centres and nurseries are still using plastic pots. There are compostable options and the more that gardeners choose these and ask for these, the more available they will be. At a recent National trust event ‘plant a sunflower’ we loved that children were shown how to make their own pot out of newspaper before planting their seeds.
This sunflower seedling had a good start in the newspaper pot and survived repeated watering.
When choosing compost you should check that you are avoiding using unnecessary chemicals and always choose peat free. Peat is naturally rich in nutrients thanks to the partially decomposed plant materials it contains. However as peat bogs are being destroyed, there are plant and wildlife species native to the bogs being lost. Instead create your own compost heap where you compost your kitchen waste. Remember no dairy, fish, meat products or oils, along with any suitable material from your garden such as grass cuttings and leaves. It is important to keep a mix of ‘greens’ and ‘browns’ so that your compost doesn’t become too wet or too dry. It is easy to make your own compost areas using recycled materials. There are lots of different designs using pallets, our own Greengage compost area is built from discarded pallets and wood.
Any planting will be beneficial, but trees in particular remove more carbon dioxide from the air and release more oxygen. One mature tree over its lifetime can absorb enough carbon and release enough oxygen to sustain two people. When choosing plants, choose diverse plants such as Phlox, Verbena, Nasturtium, Lavender and Wild Roses to encourage bees and butterflies which are key pollinators. It is also important to consider native species and species that are fit for your soil type. You will see a great reduction in the amount of time and most importantly water needed if you plant native species.
Having access to water encourages wildlife and pollinators and water features, even simple bucket ponds, have a positive impact on your garden. Growing your own vegetables will reduce your food miles to zero, whilst also ensuring that no pesticides are used and costing you less.
Power tools are an essential part of our work at Greengage but we make sure tools are regularly serviced to keep them energy efficient and use the tools as efficiently as possible.
Artificial turf may have its place (not in any of our clients’ gardens thankfully), unless there is a really important need for it, try to avoid it. If maintenance is an issue, or you need a new lawn we Greengage gardeners can help. It is a myth that it will save on water as they often needs cleaning and in high temperatures cooling down as they can become very uncomfortable to walk on. The artificial turf kills the healthy soil bacteria and even worms and inevitably at the end of its life time will be one more addition to land fill.
And finally, keep gardening and don’t forget to sit back and enjoy your garden. If you take the time to appreciate your efforts you will find you are inspired to keep them up.
Words: Jennie Eastick, Office Manager and amateur gardener