Workshop How to garden greener
Bring your backyard into balance with our top tips for environmentally conscious gardening that’s better for the birds, the bees and our world
Less than 100 years ago, the way people gardened was very much in tune with nature, and composting, companion planting and growing your own food were the norm. Modern gardening brought harmful chemicals and wasteful practices into the mainstream, but recently these methods are being rejected in favour of traditional techniques which are kinder to the environment. Follow these 10 steps and you’ll be well on your way to a more eco-friendly garden.
1 Grow your own
The satisfaction of growing your own food beats supermarket shopping hands down, even if you’re just cultivating one planter box of salad greens and herbs. If you can avoid using harmful sprays, the health benefits are enormous, too. To maximise space, plant any spare spots in your garden with fruit trees that will crop at different times of year (eg pip fruit in summer, feijoas in autumn, citrus in winter).
2 Feed the pollinators
We all know that honey bees are under threat and this is partly due to the degradation of their habitats. Cultivating plants rich in pollen and nectar is something we can all do to fill the gap. Native plants such as hebe, manuka and rengarenga lily are important sources of food for native and exotic bees. Bees love blue and yellow flowers and big groups of these are easier for them to spot from above. Herbs such as borage, rosemary, lavender, sage and thyme are also favourite bee fodder, along with fruit trees and flowering annuals and perennials such as alyssum, catmint, cosmos, marigold and phlox. Water is essential for the survival of bees so leave shallow bowls of water in the garden for them in summer.
3 Be wise with water
Rather than waste valuable rainwater by allowing it to flow into the often overstretched stormwater system, harvest it in rainwater tanks. Add filters to trap contaminants and use the water for garden irrigation. Grey water is another good water resource to utilise in the garden. Consider how you can reduce your garden’s irrigation needs as well. Water lawns less often or install a watering system that doesn’t waste water through evaporation. Think about using gravel instead of concrete for paths so the water sinks into the ground rather than running off into the stormwater system.
4 Use fewer chemicals
Eliminating or reducing chemical sprays is key to the survival of our bees. Even organic sprays such as pyrethrum are toxic to bees and should be sprayed at night while they are not active. Use traps or barriers to deter slugs and snails instead of bait, and choose plant-based weed sprays rather than chemical pesticides. Spraying compost, seaweed and other plant-based teas onto the foliage of plants is also a great way to help reduce pests and diseases.
Vegepod, from $179, from vegepod.co.nz.
Kiwicare organic weedfree
rapid concentrate, $19.98, from Bunnings.