A garden can be a sanctuary from the stresses of modern life, a place to unwind and watch the everyday miracles of nature unfold…
But overuse of water and synthetic chemical fertilisers and pesticides means many gardens come at a cost to the planet. Make your garden truly “green: by encouraging wildlife, minimising water, avoiding synthetic chemicals and growing some food.
In Australia, gardens use almost half of domestic water. But by being water-wise, using greywater, greywater-safe laundry powders and installing a rainwater tank, your garden can still flourish with no town water at all.
q Choose drought-resistant plants and turf.
q Reduce the size of your lawn or create a lawn-free garden with shrubs, gravel or paving.
q In dry spells, don’t cut lawns.
q Plant Australian native plants that will thrive without watering.
q Mulch (covering soil with lawn cuttings, straw, etc) can reduce evaporation by 70 per cent.
q Only water plants when they start to wilt to encourage deeper root systems.
q Water near dawn or dusk to minimise evaporation and use a watering can instead of a hose.
q Design your driveway and patio to slope so rain runs into your garden, not down drains.
Composting is a green living basic. It reduces waste and provides nutrients for your garden. It’s easy – all you need is a compost bin, or a pile in your garden and something to cover it. Just remember to turn the compost regularly to aerate it (which stops it producing methane). Most kitchen scraps (except meat) can be composted, as well as garden cuttings and paper. Garden cuttings can also be left to decompose back into the soil.
Worm farms are another way to compost. They require very little maintenance and produce liquid fertiliser for your garden. A Bokashi bin can take meat too, and produces great natural fertiliser.
gardening: other key steps
1. Go organic. Buy a book on organic gardening and learn how to cut out synthetic chemicals.
2. Go native. Plant Australian natives, especially ones native to your area. They won’t need water and pesticides, and native trees and bushes such as banksias and grevilleas attract native birds and animals. Avoid exotic species identified as threats to native ecosystems.
3. Go wild. Create a wildlife area, fenced off from pets, with a pond (frogs, birds, dragonflies), batbox and some rocks for lizards.
4. Grow food to reduce food packaging and transport. Good choices for novice gardeners include tomatoes, garlic, carrots, rocket, rosemary, parsley, mint and basil. Or explore native “bushtucker” plants. $
want to do more?
q Share garden tools with neighbours.
q Look for second-hand garden furniture and salvaged paving and timber for decking.
q Don’t use patio heaters: if you are cold, put on warmer clothes or go inside.
Grow herbs in a window box, or find out if there is a local community garden near you.