Sustainable gardening encourages the use of garden practices that don’t damage the earth or waste resources.
Key Principles of Sustainable Gardening
1. Use organic soil amendments and fertilizers. Conventional chemically processed fertilizers make your lawn look like a golf course, but the excess chemicals in fertilizers leach into the soil, pollute our groundwater, drain into streams and eventually end up in the ocean where they do all kinds of damage. Composting is a great way to amend your soil naturally and it cuts down on waste in the landfill. And consider organic or slow-release fertilizers, because they release smaller amounts of chemicals into the soil.
2. Control weeds naturally. Chemically-processed herbicides can be harmful to good plants and insects, wild animals and pets, and children. It’s a little more work than whipping the Weed B Gone out of your holster like that dumb TV commercial, but it’s worth it.
3. Practice integrated pest management (IPM). IPM is a pest control strategy that focuses on planting techniques that don’t harm the environment. Pesticides kill the insects eating your roses, but they can also kill butterflies, other useful bugs, birds, and anything else that might come in contact with the pesticide or eat a poisoned bug.
4. Go native. Work with what’s natural in your ecosystem. Plant native trees, shrubs, and plants–they’ll have an easier time surviving in your environment/growing zone than exotics. Natives are better for wildlife, easier to take care of, and easier to grow. Also, learn about invasive plants in your area, avoid planting them, and eliminate the ones that you already have (if you can and it makes sense).
5. Conserve. This probably goes without saying, but good sustainable gardening methods focus on conserving water, energy, and other natural resources as much as possible.
6. Be mindful of garden economics. Huh? Translation: help sustain your local (and regional) economies by buying local plants and supplies from local or regional growers whenever possible. Big-box garden center are cheaper, but only in the long run. They hurt grower-owned businesses that actually provide higher-quality products.
I’m open to your suggestions too! Email them to me at earthfriendlygardening [at] carolinebrown [dot] com.