8 Ways to Garden in Harmony With Nature

Reader Contribution by Benedict Vanheems
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In this video and article we share eight great gardening techniques to help you reduce your impact on Mother Earth.

Photo by Getty Images / kupicco

1. Opt for Human Power 

Save natural resources by replacing electric or gasoline-powered equipment such as lawnmowers, tillers and leaf-blowers with human-powered alternatives wherever possible. Break down big jobs into regular smaller blocks to make them easier and help you keep fit and active.

2. Work with Nature to Solve Problems

Instead of using artificial fertilizers and pesticides, which are energy intensive to manufacture and carry many undesirable side effects such as polluting rivers and harming beneficial insects and soil life, take a natural approach instead. Regularly add organic materials to the soil to build fertility in the long term, and plant flowers to attract pest predators.

3. Plant Trees

Plant trees to help lock up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and help to mitigate the effects of climate change. Trees also offer birds somewhere to nest, feed and shelter, and in return they will keep many plant pests in check.

Trees are available in all sizes from tiny to gigantic, and can be planted into otherwise underused parts of the garden. Most are easy to grow and many are productive as well as beautiful – apple trees, for instance.

4. Compost Your Waste

Composting is a natural process and far more environmentally friendly than throwing away organic matter. Garden-made compost is often more nutrient-dense than bought-in sources, so plants will love it.

Setting up a simple compost pile or bin is easy, and don’t worry – it won’t smell!

5. Green Up Your Lawn

Lawns need a lot of effort and water to maintain, especially in hotter climates. Consider whether any of your lawn could be repurposed. A native wildflower meadow only needs mowing once or twice a year, so it’s less work and more beautiful than a plain green lawn.

Make any lawn that remains more sustainable by allowing the grass to grow a little longer between cuts. Leave the clippings where they fall at least once a month to feed the soil.

6. Reuse and Recycle

Reuse pots and seed containers as often as possible by washing them after each season so they’re ready and clean for the next. Keep your tools in top condition by storing them somewhere dry, keeping moving parts oiled, and sharpening blades regularly so they work like new.

Choose natural materials in the garden that are less energy-intensive to manufacture. For instance, opt for biodegradable pots made of coconut fiber (coir), cardboard or old newspaper, and greenhouses built from sustainable wood instead of aluminium.

Repurpose old items from the house into new ones for the garden. There’s all sorts of fun to be had in getting creative!

7. Free Natural Resources

Set up barrels to collect rainfall and cut your consumption of treated water – and your water bill! (Check that this is allowed in your area first.)

Rake up fallen leaves to make leaf mold, which can be used to improve soil structure or as a component of a homemade, packaging-free potting mix.

Grow flowers rich in nectar. This will draw in pollinators and pest predators to feed on the bugs you don’t want. Frogs and toads are the ultimate slug controllers, so include a pond for them if you can.

Making room for wildlife doesn’t have to mean sacrificing valuable space on the ground. Why not install a green roof on your shed, or put together a simple bug hotel. Many projects are easily completed in a weekend to bring long-lasting benefits, and they’re great fun!

8. Grow What Thrives

Grow plants that naturally thrive in your garden. Pick the right plant for the right place: for example, reserve the sunniest areas for vegetables like tomatoes and beans, and grow leafy salads in the shade.
Accept that sometimes it’s too soon to plant, and save money and energy. Work back from the last frost date so tender crops like squashes aren’t sown too early and are ready to plant when the time’s right, without resorting to using costly heating or growing lights. Our Garden Planner includes a handy Plant List to help with this too.
Grow as much as you can to reduce the food miles you rack up: plan ahead, re-sow throughout the growing season, and preserve some of your homegrown harvest for enjoying throughout the year.

Get More Tips with These Great Gardening Resources

Our popular Vegetable Garden Planner can help you map out your garden design, space crops, know when to plant which crops in your exact location, and much more.

Need crop-specific growing information? Browse our Crops at a Glance Guide for advice on planting and caring for dozens of garden crops.

More Videos

Watch more videos on gardening techniques and other self-reliance, DIY topics on our Wiser Living Videos page.