7 Tips for Starting a Sustainable Backyard Garden

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By Ashley Hanson

Updated: May 09, 2024

8 min read

Sustainable Backyard Garden

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    Gardening is one of the best things you can do to make your small cottage more eco-friendly. However, many modern gardening practices are unsustainable, such as excessive soil tillage, the use of chemical products and poor plant selections. These seven tips will help you avoid harmful actions and start a sustainable backyard garden with great success.

    Make Your Own Mulch

    Homemade mulch is one of the hallmarks of a sustainable garden. Mulch’s main purpose is to protect your plants from cold temperatures and invasive weeds by trapping heat and moisture in the soil. Unfortunately, most mulches on the market contain hazardous chemicals like methanol and hydrogen sulfide. Instead, make your own mulch with organic ingredients such as these:

    • Shredded bark
    • Shredded leaves
    • Wood chips
    • Pine needles
    • Grass clippings

    Unlike store-bought mulch, these items are naturally resilient to bad weather and won’t fill your garden with unnecessary foreign chemicals. You will save lots of money and effort in the long run by making your own mulch at home.

    Practice No-Till Gardening

    No-till cultivation is a great technique for developing a sustainable garden. Instead of churning the ground with tools, you deposit your plant seedlings into small holes. This adjustment can significantly decrease your garden’s carbon emissions. It also reduces physical labor, making your job easier. The no-till approach is a win-win situation for everyone.

    In a study of European farms, researchers found that no-fill farming caused soil organic carbon (SOC) levels to increase by 3.6% and 1.7% compared to farms that practiced standard tilling. People who regularly plow their fields and gardens release more SOCs into the atmosphere, whereas no-till farming helps you contain SOCs and protect the environment.

    Prioritize Native and Perennial Plants

    Most plants in your sustainable garden should be native or perennial species. Plants and flowers that are indigenous to your local climate or can grow year-round require less intensive maintenance because they’re comfortable with the temperature, soil type and precipitation levels. The less upkeep your garden needs, the more eco-friendly it will be.

    However, prioritizing native plants comes with a caveat — more animal activity. They are common food sources for local birds, bugs and other critters.

    Use Natural Animal Repellents

    Vegetable fencing
    Photo: @steveneray

    Natural repellents will keep animals away and make your garden more sustainable. A vegetable fence is a great option for a small-scale backyard plot, but you have many other options. You can install a wire mesh barrier or an electric fence so animals can’t dig into your garden, protecting your plants and maintaining your soil quality.

    Chemical pesticides might be easier to use but are terrible for the environment and living organisms. They can lead to health problems and abnormalities for vegetation, pets and even humans. Physical barriers are safer pest control methods that will keep your garden eco-friendly.

    Save Your Plant Seeds

    Another effective sustainable gardening practice is saving healthy and mature seeds for the next growing season. You can adopt this strategy with flowers, plants, fruits and vegetables. The main idea is to make your future plants more resilient to climate change, but it also helps you save resources while expanding your garden.

    Keeping seeds alive during the winter can be tricky, but you have several options. The most reliable way is to store them in a cool, dry indoor environment where they won’t start growing prematurely. Keeping the seeds with silica gel packets will also keep moisture levels down and ensure they stay dormant. 

    Avoid Overwatering

    One of the keys to maintaining a sustainable garden is minimizing water consumption. You shouldn’t need to water your garden frequently if your soil is healthy and you chose the right plants. Your climate’s rainwater should be more than enough to support native and perennial species.

    Use a simple watering can instead of a hose or sprinklers on the rare occasions you need to water your plants. You’ll use as little water as possible. Avoiding overwatering saves time, effort and money while benefiting the environment.

    Use Simple Landscaping Tools

    You should keep your landscaping tools simple. Eliminate all gas-powered devices and use electric or mechanical alternatives. You can find electric lawnmowers, leaf blowers and weed eaters that are much more efficient and eco-friendly than their gas-guzzling counterparts. Fossil fuel emissions have no place in a sustainable garden.

    Start Your Sustainable Garden Today

    Growing and maintaining a sustainable garden is simpler than most people think. Making these seven straightforward adjustments enables you to cultivate a beautiful backyard garden with minimal effort and significantly less labor and resources than regular gardening. It’s time to go green.

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