Sustainable Gardening

Minimizing Impact On The Environment

Sustainable is the ability to be supported, upheld, or confirmed. A sustainable garden is one that is not harmful to the environment nor depletes natural resources. Rather, a sustainable garden works with its surrounding to nature to contribute to a thriving ecosystem. Not only does maintaining a sustainable garden support long-term ecological balance, it also provides a fun and rewarding activity for the gardener.

The most important sustainable gardening practice is composting, as it has the greatest impact. At it's root, composting is a form of recycling that not only benefits soil health, but the health of the humans who take part in it. Composting yard and garden wastes means less material going to the landfill and more organic material for the soil, which makes for a healthier, heartier harvest.

It's crucial to be smart when it comes to watering plants-- do so only when they really need it. Position sprinklers or hoses so that they don't run off in the street or walkways. Part of sustainable gardening means choosing water wise plants; orange daylilies, china roses, and succulents don't need a lot of water. Use mulch to conserve water loss.

When choosing plants, it's important to diversify your garden in order to repel pests and diseases and promote biodiversity. Devoting part of the garden to native plants will especially benefit birds and other animals.

Downsize your lawn and save on gas by filling grassy areas with native perennials. Instead of using gas, invest in an electric lawnmower and reduce your carbon footprint.

Path to a sustainable garden:

  1. Compost - Composting has the most impact of any sustainable gardening practice. Composting recycles and enriches. It benefits the health of your soil and benefits your family at the same time. Composting yard and garden wastes means less material going to the landfill and more organic material for your soil.
  2. Conserve water - Water plants only when they need it. Position watering devices so they don't run off in the street or walkways. Mulch to conserve water loss.
  3. Plant selection - Planting diverse plants will help with pests and diseases creating biodiversity. Plant water wise plants that do not use much water. Select native plants when possible.
  4. Deal with yard and garden waste - Develope your own compost pile to save valuable plant material to be composted and returned to the soil.
  5. Soil testing and correct fertilizers - Send your soil to a lab and then only use organic fertilizers like your compost pile to replenish the soil.
  6. Have a plan - Reduce the size of your lawn, instead plant many native perennials. Buy an electric lawn mower to reduce the fossil fuels used.
  7. Maintain the garden - Learn to live with minor insect damage. Learn to attract beneficial insects to your garden to help sustain and pollinate it.

Growing a sustainable garden is all about learning along the way. Some plants may suffer from insect damage, and some sustainable practices may take a little more thought and effort. However, the reward is worth the work. NGC encourages gardeners to strive to give back to the Earth and find ways to live in harmony with nature.

For more information, contact:
Sarah McReynolds, Chairman: Sustainable Gardens