Plastic Not So Fantastic

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How to garden more sustainably

Now that autumn is here and the weather is starting to cool down a bit, most gardeners are able to spend more time in their gardens. Autumn is a good time to plant bulbs and transplant greenery, as well as spread mulch around, fertilise, do some pruning, and get pots in order.

As you go about these tasks, you might want to think about how you can be more of a greener green thumb, and use natural, eco-friendly products in your garden. Many people are keen to practise sustainability in various areas of their lives these days, and your yard is a great place to have a positive impact.

In particular, plastic is one of the worst items that gardeners have to contend with. Millions of plastic pots end up landfill each year, where they sit for decades, not breaking down. Or, plastic gets into rivers, streams and oceans where it harms marine life and other animals. Thankfully, some nurseries now use biodegradable pots which are made from natural fibres or cornstarch, but this is still only a small percentage.

If you want to do your part for the environment and tread more lightly on the earth in your gardening work, read on for some tips.

PLASTIC POTS

As mentioned above, plastic pots end up in landfill because they usually can’t be move up to previous page to finish sentence. They are not exactly attractive, so aren’t something people want to put on display. This reduces their ability to be used repeatedly.

To make a better choice then, buy from nurseries which use biodegradable pots, or choose other more eco-friendly pot options. Bamboo is considered a sustainable material, for example, because it is such a fast-growing plant. Bamboo also looks very attractive and suits all types of décor. You may also be able to find pots made from recycled materials, or from peat, which is both biodegradable and compostable.

In addition, talk to your local nursery to see if they’ll take plastic pots back from you and re-use them. This at least means the plastic items aren’t limited to single use. Plus, consider propagating your own plants from seeds in your yard or from friends and family members, so you don’t have to purchase so many plants from nurseries. This will not only reduce the number of plastic pots you attain, but also save you money.

CHEMICALS

Another big issue in gardening is the use of chemicals. Most of the fertilisers, weed killers and other garden products on the market today are laden with chemicals which are very harmful to the environment. The chemicals affect insects, bugs and other animals in a negative way and also end up getting into waterways and causing problems for marine life and oceans.

It is possible to reduce your use of chemicals in the garden though. When it comes to fertilising, compost can be your best friend. Create a compost heap and you will reduce the amount of garbage that goes into your bin, since kitchen scraps, paper, grass clippings, leaves and more make for excellent compost. Plus, compost is a wonderful free, organic fertiliser that plants love.

Another idea is to look for organic, more natural sprays, available in many nurseries and home depot stores now. You can also make up your own concoctions from natural ingredients.

Other options include placing barriers around your plants to ward off intruders, rather than using chemical pest control sprays. Furthermore, encourage helpful insect-eating bugs to come into your gardens, so that they get rid of the nasties for you.

Ladybugs and lacewings eat aphids, for example, and are typically enticed into yards by marigolds, sunflowers and candytuft. Birds also eat many plant-destroying creatures, such as garden slugs, snails, grubs and caterpillars, so entice them in with birdfeeders, water fountains and nesting boxes.

To reduce the need for chemical-laden weed control, use mulch in your gardens, as this helps to smother and inhibit weeds. It also works to prevent new seeds from germinating. Mowing often keeps weeds under control too, plus there are certain types of weeds you can pull out by hand.

WATER USAGE

Of course, if you want to live more sustainably, you also need to think about how much water you consume. To cut back in this area, reduce the amount of (often thirsty) lawn you have, and plant easy-care ground-covers or lay stones or eco-friendly paving products. Opt for drought-resistant trees, shrubs and flowers, too, which don’t need much water.

When you do water your lawn and gardens, complete the job in the mornings or evenings when there is less sun and the temperature is cooler. This will mean less water evaporates, so more is actually absorbed into the soil. Consider collecting water from showers and your laundry to use in your garden too, so and install rainwater tanks so you can harvest water when it rains.