We all know about the green technologies which exist for the home – they’ve been drilled into our brains for years. Unfortunately, when it comes to gardens, most people believe that the best green solutions come in the form of the solar lighting systems that are available from most bargain stores.
Well, while these solar systems can provide small advantages, there are further benefits to be had through slightly more advanced garden design.
A lot of this design focuses around water, and just how your garden handles it. However, there are also points to be made about the various materials that form your garden – and choosing the first, or possibly cheapest, that comes onto your radar isn’t usually the best course of action.
Following on from the above, let’s take a look at five of the best ways to design your garden in an eco-responsible way.
Make sure you don’t prioritize paved spaces
Sure, a paved path that winds around your garden might look the part, but from an eco-perspective it’s arguably one of the worst things you can do.
The problem with paved areas is simple; they don’t encourage rainwater to be absorbed into the soil. Instead, the rainwater will run off, eventually reaching the streets where it will become contaminated with pollutants and run into sewers or waterways. In a bid to preserve national water resources, this naturally needs to be avoided.
So, what constitutes one of these problem materials? We’re specifically talking about anything which forms a waterproof surface, with concrete and asphalt being a couple of the most common.
In a bid to overcome this problem, the best solution is to just increase the amount of green space in your garden. In those areas where you just can’t legislate for plantation, at least consider honeycombed products which can sit between the soil and allow water to eventually end in the soil (rather than down the drains).
Consider recycling or harvesting systems
This next suggestion is going to cover a couple of types of systems. The first is a greywater recycling one, with this referring to the water that is wasted from the likes of showers and baths. The second is one that simply collects rainwater and reuses it in a sustainable manner. If you can take advantage of such technology, the benefits can be immense. Experts believe that the typical household would save almost 150,000 of litres a year, which is the equivalent of three swimming pools. Or, for those of you who like to judge these systems based on savings, you could use about 33% less water than you do currently.
So, how do you implement such a system? In the case of rainwater harvesting, it’s simply a case of making sure water flows from gutters and into a tank. From this point on, the choice for the use of this water is down to you. Anything that doesn’t involve drinking the water is completely fine; meaning that the most common uses are supplying the toilet for water, or maybe even watering the garden. If you are looking to reroute this water back to your house, for the toilet example potentially, the set-up costs might be a little higher and you will also have to filter the water to make sure that bacteria doesn’t build-up.
Be vigilant with your choice of decking
Decking is something that has soared in popularity over recent years, with homeowners desperate to take advantage of this material due to its low maintenance nature.
However, not all decking is created equal. In other words, when you install this feature in your garden, you can run the risk of turning to a material which just isn’t ecological or durable. It’s for this reason that the following suggestions are advised for anyone who wants to utilize decking in their garden.
- Heat treated wood – If you turn to a wood that has been baked in a kiln to a really high temperature, the benefit is that it is dry and waterproof. The upshot of this is that no chemicals are contained within it and it won’t rot. This should mean that it lasts around 50% longer than wood alternatives. The only pointer you need to take into account with this is any supporting members that you use. This is because any heat-treated wood tends to be a little weaker, meaning that you need to make the appropriate accommodations for this.
- Recycled wood and plastic composites – Strictly speaking, these are not wood – but they carry the same benefits as it (and more). These woods don’t rot and don’t need any stains, making them a clear winner in our eyes.
- Cedar – If you are looking for a direct suggestion for a material, let’s recommend cedar. This is one type of wood that actually has a natural resistance to rot and the average lifespan of it tends to be almost three decades.
- VOC-free coating wary – In a bid to help reduce emissions, and benefit your health at the same time, you should look to turn to materials that don’t us VOC coatings.
The return of composting
Once upon a time composting was seen in most gardens, but recently it appears to have died down somewhat.
Well, this is the period it needs to make a resurgence. The conversion of organic matter to compost can reduce your domestic waste by almost a third – and this should be enough of an argument for most people. There are also the GHG emission savings, when you take into account the costs of transporting organic waste to a landfill.
The best composts are composed of about 33% kitchen scraps, with the remainder being dry materials like leaves or grass cuttings. The beauty about this is that you really can leave nature to take its course – insects tend to take care of the job for you.
Once you have composted, you immediately have converted human waste to natural fertilizer for your gardenand in our green world, this should not be underestimated.
Your plant positioning is crucial
In a bid to not waste resources, it’s important to take care when positioning plants.
For example, different plants require different amounts of natural sunlight. Take a look around your garden and pinpoint the ones that require the most, before positioning them accordingly. It’s worth mentioning that if some plants don’t receive sufficient sunlight for their needs, they won’t produce as many leaves and flowers. In some cases, they may develop diseases or just die.
It’s not just about sunlight though. If we tune into another example, the characteristics of some plants will benefit you. If you have plants with strong root systems, they can work perfectly if you’re looking to retain a slope. Or, if you perhaps have a fence that you would rather divert attention from, turn to a climbing plant which can disguise such a feature.
There are other types of characteristics you can benefit from as well. This focusses around companion planting – whereby something is planted in a bid to protect a nearby plant. The best example is herbs, which can act as a camouflage for some plants and also divert pests away.
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