With a four-day weekend starting tomorrow and sunny weather expected for much of it, it’s the perfect time to get outdoors and into nature. Unfortunately, living in a pandemic, as we do, our time spent beyond the perimeters of our homes is currently quite limited. But many of us do have gardens. So, while we’re in lockdown (and, arguably, even when we’re not), it’s time to make the most of these green spaces. If we can’t go out, let’s bring nature to us. And, even better, let’s do it in an eco-friendly way. Doing so will bring more enjoyment to your garden, keep the kids entertained and look after the planet, all in one. It’s a no-brainer! So, gardening gloves at the ready, here are our top tips for creating an eco-friendly garden…
Make homes for wildlife
If you’ve ever watched any David Attenborough, you’ll know that animals make great entertainment. Granted, in the UK, we might not have elephants or giraffes on our doorsteps, but we do have many other wonderful species, many of which will happily spend time in your garden if conditions are right for them. And, as an added bonus, they’ll naturally help with pest control. So, how about spending some of this weekend creating a hedgehog house, a butterfly house or a five star bug hotel? Attract birds with feeders and nest boxes containing some of their favourite foods (blue tits, for example, love sunflower seeds), and entice bees by introducing plants with open faces that flower all year round. Before you know it, you’ll be able to watch a wildlife show on your very own doorstep.
Opt for native plants
As touched on above, one of the best ways to attract wildlife into your garden is to fill it with plants. Even better, opt for those that are native to where you live. Already adapted to local conditions, these plants are tough, easy to grow and are ideal for bees and butterflies. To give you some ideas, check out the RHS’s list of wildflowers native to Britain. Likewise, ‘plant according to the garden, not the gardener’. If your garden gets a lot of damp shade, choose woodland plants; if your soil is prone to getting waterlogged, go for wetland plants. Looking at what will suit your garden’s conditions best will lead to happier, healthier plants, fewer pests and more wildlife.
Grow your own food
Without a doubt, the supermarkets are doing an amazing job at the moment, but food is a stressor for all of us. So, wouldn’t it be amazing if you didn’t have to purchase all of your food and could grow some of your own? Even aside from this pandemic, growing your own fruit and veg can be really rewarding, save you money and help you reduce your environmental impact. If you have ample space available in your garden, allocate a patch for growing vegetables like carrots, beans and potatoes and plant some fruit trees (for example, apple, pear and plum). If space is more limited, don’t worry, it’s still really easy to grow the likes of tomatoes, strawberries and blueberries in pots.
Reuse and recycle
Adopting a mantra of reuse and recycle is essential to having an eco-friendly garden. And, luckily, there are so many ways you can do this. One of our favourites is to use a barrel to collect rainwater, which can then be used to water your plants, wash your car or clean your windows. This is a super easy and inexpensive method of reusing and helping conserve water. Another way is by storing fallen leaves in a quiet corner of your garden to give small animals like hedgehogs somewhere warm to shelter. Once decomposed, the leaves will turn into a natural mould – the perfect garden fertiliser. And, if you want to go all out with your reuse efforts, you could take a leaf out of Widden Primary School’s book and create an eco-greenhouse out of recycled plastic bottles – something we helped the pupils with as part of their environmental education programme.
Make your own compost
Talking of reuse and recycling, making your own compost is a great way of turning your vegetable and garden waste into something useful and eco-friendly, instead of putting it in the bin. It costs nothing to make and will save you from having to buy bagged compost from a garden centre. Known as ‘gardener’s gold’, compost basically gives your garden a shot of plant-loving nutrients, enriching soil fertility, stimulating healthy root development and helping improve water retention. It can also attract wildlife, such as frogs, hedgehogs and lizards (something parents could incorporate into a Harry Potter themed lesson!).
Whatever you do with your long weekend, we hope you have a good one. And, if you do take us up on some of these tips, we’d love to see the results! So please do share any photos to our Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook pages.
Happy Easter everyone!