Create a sustainable outdoor space this summer
From drought-tolerant plants, to ditching garden chemicals, there are plenty of ways to garden more sustainably and create an outdoor space that isn’t such a drain on natural resources, whilst being kinder to the planet. Not only will it make life easier for you if there is a hosepipe ban or even you’ve run out of mosquito repellent, but you will appreciate and enjoy your garden or balcony even more, knowing it’s working in harmony with the environment.
With scorching summers now more frequent and experts predicting global water shortages by 2025, it’s time to think smarter about how you use the wet stuff in the garden. Opt for drought-tolerant plants, like lavender, agapanthus, geums, hardy geraniums, ornamental grasses, erignium (sea hollies), and sedums, which create a wonderful display and require minimal watering. They work well in sunny spots with free-draining soil and look great in low-maintenance planting schemes, such as gravel gardens or in containers.
With these drought-tolerant beauties, you can claw back precious hours you would have spent watering and rest assured your outdoor space will stay looking great during a hosepipe ban.
If you already have established plants in your garden, improve soil health by adding lots of organic matter, like compost. Healthy soil retains water and releases it back to the plants when they need it. Adding a layer of mulch around the base of your plants and trees, and on any exposed areas of soil will prevent moisture being lost due to evaporation.
Use rain barrels or water butts to store rainwater rather than relying on the garden tap and, lastly, water efficiently by doing it first thing in the morning, when it is cooler and the wind is lower, as this is when the most water will reach the roots of your plants. For container gardening, investigate self-watering planters, which save you time on unnecessary watering and deliver the optimum amount of moisture to plants only when they need it.
There are plenty of natural solutions to controlling pests and weeds in the garden and it’s easier than you think. Step away from the weed killer and dig unwanted plants out by hand, putting them straight into your green bin or compost pile when you’re done. Don’t leave weed cuttings on the soil, as they can re-seed and return. Other ways to control weeds include mulching, using weed matting, and soil solarization, or even killing with boiling water, baking soda or a DIY vinegar solution.
Keep pests at bay with clever plants that repel unwelcome visitors, such as aphids and flies. Lavender, catnip, mint, basil, chives, onions, rosemary, lemon balm, and nasturtiums are just some helpful companion plants you can use to deter flying pests. Many also help keep mosquitoes and gnats at bay, meaning you can enjoy sitting outside without the fear of being bitten.
Slug pellets can pose a threat to wildlife, so think twice before scattering pellets. Instead, re-use old plastic bottles by cutting the bottom off to fashion a protective cloche for individual plants or create barriers that slugs won’t want to cross using broken egg shells, horticulture gravel, coffee grounds, wood ash or wool pellets. Copper tape around the edge of pots also stop slugs and snails in their tracks.
These pests are all part of the food chain, so it pays to encourage and provide habitats for natural predators, such as birds, hedgehogs, ladybirds and lacewings, to do the hard work for you.
Savvy gardeners find a host of ways to re-use things in the garden: wooden lolly sticks make great plant labels; plastic water bottles can be used as DIY cloches or for drip-feed irrigation; old CDs hung in trees scare birds away to prevent them eating soft fruit; clothes airers provide a great climbing frame for rambling plants, like cucumbers; windows are perfect for a homemade coldframe; and wooden pallets can be utilized for anything, from raised beds, to wall planters.
Finally, reduce waste by using of long-lasting and sustainable products with LifestyleGarden furniture. We only use FSC™-certified teak and eucalyptus grown in responsibly managed plantations or sourced and recycled from components and structures. They are one of the most sought after wood species, renowned for their strength and durability.