Sustainable living is becoming an important part of our daily lives. This also applies to our choices for our outdoor living. From reducing waste to conserving water, find out how to create a sustainable, eco-friendly outdoor space.

Ditch the grass

Large, green lawns may look aesthetically pleasing, however, they do not benefit the environment or eco-system surrounding it. Instead, replace your grass with wild meadow flowers. They are easy to plant and do not require much maintenance. They also provide a place for pollinators and other wildlife to thrive. As an added benefit, they also look beautiful.

Alternatively, use gravel instead of grass, as this does not require watering and can help to prevent water wastage.

Image courtesy: Stephan Eickschen

Artificial grass and plants are a no-no

Artificial grass and plants have zero benefit to the environment or local wildlife. Although it may be low maintenance, it reduces the biodiversity in your garden and can have a negative impact on the environment. In some cases, the production of artificial grass can be harmful to the environment, causing pollution and waste. It has an average lifespan of 7 to 15 years, which means, at some point, it will need to be disposed of. Being plastic, it is not biodegradable and adds to the ever-growing plastic waste epidemic. Some artificial grass has a rubber infill which can cause a toxic residue in water run-off. This can be harmful to animals as well as people.

Image courtesy: Mã Minh

Collect rainwater

The effects of climate change has caused adverse weather, including droughts. When droughts occur, water is limited and hose-pipe bans are often instated to reduce water waste. Collecting rain with the use of water butts allows you to continue to take care of your garden and plants during times of drought.

Image courtesy: Amritanshu Sikdar

Choose drought friendly plants

Grow a garden that is low maintenance and does not require regular watering. Choosing plants that thrive in dryer conditions helps to conserve water. Plants such as cacti, succulents, geraniums and even lavender are great choices. Many of these plants have colourful flowers, so there’s no need to sacrifice beauty.  

Image courtesy: Serge van Neck

Compost

Composting has great benefits on the environment, the economy and plants. It helps to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills as well as reducing methane emissions. Compost also contains essential nutrients for healthy plants to grow and avoids the use of harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Image courtesy: Forest Garden

Encourage pollinators

Pollinators, such as bees, are extremely important to our eco-system and environment around us. They are responsible for a net £690 million worth of crops every year in the UK. They also help to maintain our native flora, such as poppies, bluebells and trees. If the population of pollinators is reduced, then the production of crops we eat will be reduced and many of our native flowers and plants will decline. Help with the conservation of pollinators by adding ‘bee-friendly’ plants and hives to your garden.

Image courtesy: Wildlife World

Welcome wildlife

The number of animal species has been dwindling and many may one day become endangered or even extinct. In order to maintain the natural environment and a healthy eco-system, it is important to protect the wildlife around us. Wildlife conservation helps maintain ecological balance in the environment. You can play an essential role in this conservation by helping your local wildlife. Encouraging pollinators to your garden with certain plants and flowers, adding insect houses to your outdoor space and providing a safe place for small animals, such as hedgehogs, are all a great way to help conserve local wildlife.

Image courtesy: Wildlife World

Recycle and reuse

Reduce waste by recycling and reusing items by making them into something new and unique. Repurpose old materials to make an artistic piece in your garden. Use old tyres, cans or wooden pallets to create one-of-a-kind planters. Just be creative and make use of what you have.

Image courtesy: Jakub Jacobsky

Solar power

Renewable energy, such as solar power, reduces the need for energy produced in power plants, which produce a great deal of pollution. However, installing solar panels can be quite costly, so why not start with something small? Rather than using mains powered outdoor lights, choose solar powered lights instead. They will save you money and create a beautiful ambience in your garden. Other solar powered garden features include water fountains, bird baths and ornaments. If you have a pond, you can even buy solar powered water pumps.

Image courtesy: Kindel Media

Choose eco-friendly furniture

When selecting garden furniture, it’s not just the aesthetics to think about. It is also worth considering whether it has been manufactured and transported in an eco-friendly and responsible way. Another factor to consider is the materials used to produce the furniture. All garden furniture has an expiration date and will one day need to be disposed of. Plastic furniture is not biodegradable and will add to plastic waste. Choose furniture that is made from natural materials, such as wood or bamboo, and look for labelling or certification that informs you that it is an eco-friendly product. 

Image courtesy: NipananLifestyle

Go all natural

Man-made chemicals are bad for our health, wildlife and the environment. When cleaning your garden furniture, patios, decking or windows, use eco-friendly cleaning products that are made from natural ingredients. You can make your own or use an environmentally friendly brand. This will eliminate harmful residue entering our eco-system and causing irreversible damage. To conserve water, simply sweep your patio or decking instead of using a hose-pipe.

Image courtesy: Evgenia Basyrova

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