Eco-friendly gardens: 7 ways you can help protect the environment with self-sustaining gardening habits.

Woman filling a watering can from rain barrelIf you’re looking for a fun outdoor project this spring, planting and taking care of an eco-friendly garden is a great choice. It’s a fulfilling activity that helps you enjoy nature while staying mindful about your environmental impact, and it’s an ideal way to add beauty to your property.

There are even more benefits to eco-friendly gardening if you choose to grow vegetables and herbs, as you can use them in delicious, home-cooked meals. You’ll have peace of mind knowing the food you’re using is organic—and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you grew the plants yourself.

Ready to do your own eco-friendly gardening? Here are seven tips to help you get started.

Conserve water. Water is our most precious resource, and making sure you’re not using too much of it is critical to keeping our ecosystem healthy. Before watering your garden, dig a small hole—maybe two or three inches—in your garden and feel with your finger if the soil is moist. If it is, watering can wait. Also, collect rainwater in a rain barrel or other container to water your plants instead of using water from the faucet.

Recycle plastic bottles and containers. Plastic waste is a major cause of environmental damage. Help the fight against plastic by recycling it in your own garden, which you can do by converting plastic bottles into watering cans or by creating plant protectors around vulnerable or new growth. You can even get more creative with old plastic containers, like using an old ice cube tray to start seedlings.

Choose the right plants. Native plants will require less maintenance—and in most cases, less water, too. When plants need less resources to thrive, it helps your garden stay self-sustaining and healthy. Good choices for hearty and beautiful plants that are native to Indiana include daylilies, switchgrass, little bluestems, and coneflowers.

Attract the right bugs. While many insects can damage your garden, there are plenty of other bugs that will help you garden thrive. Here in Indiana, attracting ladybugs is an effective way to get rid of harmful aphid infestations—and you can do it simply by adding plants that ladybugs are attracted to, like chives, marigold, and yarrow. It can also be helpful to attract predatory bugs like praying mantises, which will eat caterpillars, mosquitoes, and crickets. 

Create and use your own compost. You can easily make your own organic compost, and it’s an excellent way to give plants the nutrients they need without relying on synthetic or artificial fertilizers. Used coffee grounds are a great start to any compost pile, as they contain nitrogen which will help your plants grow. Other useful composting materials include fruits and vegetables, egg shells, leaf clippings, straw, and untreated wood chips. 

Companion planting. Did you know that growing basil or cilantro next to tomatoes can make them more flavorful? Or that daylilies can help protect carrots and lettuce from rabbits? It’s true—and there are many other plants that have symbiotic relationships with one another. Try to do some companion planting whenever possible to help your garden thrive without having to use extra resources.

Use natural fertilizers and herbicides. Many fertilizers and herbicides can be harmful to our ecosystem, especially as they mix with rainwater and seep into the ground. Luckily, there are many natural options you can use to both fertilize your plants and remove unwanted weeds. For fertilizer, use natural compost, or other organic options that contain ingredients like fish meal, alfalfa meal, rock phosphate, and greensand. And when it comes to getting rid of weeds, you can combine salt or white vinegar with water, which won’t cause any adverse damage to your garden’s ecosystem when used in moderation. 

These aren’t the only ways you can make your garden eco-friendly. There are hundreds of other things you can do—recycling materials and resources, sticking with organic materials, and just being creative can go a long way toward making your garden self-sustaining. If you have any questions about eco-friendly gardening—or could use some help choosing the right plants—our team at Engledow can help. Contact us today to learn more.

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