There are few things as calming and inspiring as a well-designed garden. Whether it is a large, formally laid-out landscaped area or a kitchen garden planted in containers on the balcony of a top-floor flat, a garden brings people back to nature and puts them in touch with sources of life and sustenance.
Given the importance of environmental issues to modern society, it will come as no surprise that eco-friendliness is of huge importance in current landscape design. More and more people are trying to create the perfect eco-friendly garden, often with a view to producing their own fruit, herbs and vegetables, but without compromising on attractiveness and enticing elements. The modern ideal is to create a garden that grows fruit and vegetables while also being ornamental, a place that is harmonious for plants, wildlife and people. The good news is that, with a little planning and care, this is increasingly possible, even for amateur gardeners.
The first step in creating an eco-friendly garden is to survey the plot and sketch a few ideas in words or pictures. For newcomers to gardening, magazines and books can provide useful inspiration. In an eco-friendly garden, the key aims include:
- To minimise the use of chemical pesticides, etc.
- To minimise the use of water.
- To recycle wherever possible.
- To create food and shelter for local insects and wildlife.
To achieve these aims, the garden needs sunshine and good drainage: while the gardener can do little about the former, the latter can often be created, for example, through the use of raised beds and planters.
So, having started to plan the plot, what next? There are a few key items that every eco-friendly garden needs; these include at least one water butt (for recycling rain water) and a compost heap or bin. A greenhouse is a great help as it aids with early propagation of the season’s plants and will produce large quantities of produce.
After this, it is time to decide what to plant. The traditional kitchen garden, which is a mixture of herbs, vegetables, fruits, perennials and shrubs, is an increasingly popular option and can be made very eco-friendly. Apart from the use of recycled water and compost, the planting of native plant species can provide wonderful food and shelter for local wildlife – why not add a bird box or bird feeders, or even a hedgehog house? Strategic planting, such as companion planting – where two or more types of plant are grown closely together – can help to ward off pests, as can the use of ground covering plants.
Of course, the garden must also be attractive and comfortable for humans. The use of items in eco-friendly materials, such as wooden furniture, can encourage people into the garden and its use as an ‘extra room’. The use of permeable paving can add the eco-credentials of the garden, allowing water to flow through it and back into the ground water beneath.
In short, whether it is a postage stamp-sized yard or a rolling field, there is no reason why any modern garden cannot be eco-friendly. Why not consider the possibilities today?