With summer in full swing and the days warm and long, now is the perfect time to make the most of the sunshine and spend your days pottering around and enjoying your garden.

Spending time in nature and working with your hands is amazingly beneficial for your mental health and well-being.

So, let’s discover what we can do to create an eco-friendly garden for yourself and the local wildlife. 

1. Feed the bees

Bee pollenating in an eco friendly garden
A Pollinating Bee – Katie Olson

Let’s begin with the easiest habit to develop on this list. One that even the busiest or least green-thumbed of us all can manage!

Do nothing to your lawn. Put away the lawnmower, don’t weed out those dandelions. Allow your patch of green grass to grow into food for some of our hardest working insect friends. The bees.

We’ve all heard “save the bees” before but why are these fuzzy creatures so important?

Honey bees carry out around 80% of pollination all around the world. That’s not just pollinating pretty flowers. Bees pollinate the majority of food crops eaten by humans! [1]

Without the bees, we cannot sustain food production to feed the world’s ever-growing population. Pesticides are the leading cause of declining bee populations through the destruction of the bees natural habitats.

If you enjoy your green space too much to let the lawn grow out, then you can still do your bit for the bees. Do this by dedicating just a little section of your garden to them.

Create a honey bee paradise by planting flower varieties that bees love and will help them thrive. This includes plants such as foxgloves, lavender, honeysuckle.

Luckily the bee’s have good taste and prefer colourful flowers that can brighten and cheer up your outdoor space!

2. Grow your greens

Home grown cabbage in an eco friendly garden
Vegetable Cabbage Patch – Katie Olson

I think it’s safe to say that we’d all rather spend more time in the garden and less in the supermarket. Planting some seeds now to make an amazing investment towards your future.

Not only do homegrown veggies taste better than their supermarket equivalents, but they also have a positive impact on our environment for several reasons.

This includes no plastic packaging, no harmful chemicals such as pesticides and overall a much smaller carbon footprint. The vegetables have only had to travel from garden to kitchen rather than across the country!

A bonus is there is something immensely satisfying about eating something you’ve grown and nurtured from a seed!

Cauliflower, spring onions, radishes, cabbage, turnip, pak choi, salad leaves and strawberry plants are just a few of the varieties of edible plants that flourish when planted now!

If you haven’t got space for a big vegetable garden, then plant just your favourites or focus on being as environmentally-friendly as possible.

Which produce is near impossible to buy without plastic packaging in a supermarket? Grow those!

Another space saver is to grow herbs on a windowsill or salad leaves in a planter.

3. Food waste or fertilizer

To encourage flowers to bloom and veggies to flourish, they can need a little helping hand to get the nutrients they require.

We can use food scraps we’d otherwise waste to create nutritious food for the plants.

After cooking up a yummy meal of pasta, potatoes, rice or boiled vegetables don’t pour that starchy water down the drain. Instead, save it.

Once cool it can be used to water thirsty plants. The starchy water acts as a fertilizer, accelerates plant growth and reduces water usage!

Banana peel, eggshell and coffee grounds are a few of many everyday food waste items that similarly the nutrients can be saved from the landfill and recycled back into the garden soil.[2]

On a bigger scale composting is a great eco-friendly habit that over time will benefit your garden growth and the environment.

This impact comes from eliminating the need to buy pre-packaged compost in bags and stopping green waste heading to the landfill.

Start a compost heap or invest in a compost bin. Each day add any food waste such as tea bags, fruit and veg scraps, and house waste like newspaper, cardboard and egg boxes.

Then your grass cuttings, fallen leaves and weedings can also go in. Just remember not to add meat and dairy products, these do not compost well!

Be patient and allow microorganisms to do the hard work for you, breaking down the scraps into a nutrient-dense soil!

4. Go natural in your eco friendly garden

Growing Tomatoes – Katie Olson

To keep your garden as eco-friendly as possible, it is essential to do your research before spraying pesticides everywhere.

While chemical pesticides are very efficient at killing off pesky bugs, they can be a little too effective. These toxic chemicals are harmful to the environment and our health!

By leaking into the water system, pesticides kill off other creatures. Following on this then has a negative knock-on effect on the surrounding eco-system.

Not only do the harmful chemicals leach into the environment, but they also stick around on surfaces. Including on the vegetables that you’ve lovingly grown to eat![3] 

If pests are attacking your beautiful plants and produce before you have a chance to enjoy them, don’t despair.

There are many green solutions to this problem that are just as effective and much more eco-friendly than spraying pesticides everywhere.

There are so many earth-friendly, natural pesticides you can brew up in your kitchen with simple and minimal ingredients.

The easiest and quickest one is as simple as dissolving salt in hot water, allowing to cool and then transferring into a spray bottle!

By creating homemade eco-friendly sprays, not only will your garden have more of a positive impact on the environment but will also save you some money!

5. Why waste water?

Watering Can being used to water an eco friendly garden
Watering The Garden – Katie Olson

If you’re lucky enough to live in a mainly sunny area without a lot of rainfall, then your beautiful garden and growing veggies may need a lot of water to stay healthy.

Reduce your water bill and wastage by creating some simple and efficient habits.

Outside we can pop a big bucket or tub in your garden to collect rainfall and inside we can save clean water that would otherwise go straight down the drain.

Perhaps before you can jump in your shower, you have to run it for a few minutes to warm the water up?

Place a bucket in there while you wait to collect the water that would otherwise go to waste. Use this to water your garden! 

6. Powered by sunshine

A garden is not only for sunny days but to be enjoyed through sunset and into the night.

Light up your space in an eco-friendly way with some solar-powered lights.

Not only does sunshine fuel the soul, but it is also a sustainable and clean source of power.

Unlike heavily-polluting fossil fuels, solar energy does not contribute to the greenhouse effect. Therefore, it helps to fight the battle against climate change![4]

Investing in a set of solar-powered (rather than electric or battery powered) lights not only lowers your electricity bill but simultaneously reduces your carbon footprint! 

Or if the budget doesn’t stretch to new lights then be sure check out our guide on how to switch to a green energy provider.

7. Sustainable furniture

The perfect eco-friendly garden should have some comfy outdoor furniture to sit back and relax on.

The most sustainable option for garden furniture is to take care of the pieces you already own but if you’re keen to spruce up your space then try upcycling or lookout for some incredible second-hand bargains!

By upcycling or buying second hand you’re extending that product’s lifespan. This practice has so many eco-friendly benefits.

Less ends up in landfills, the carbon footprint of the original product is lowered, and you are using your power as a consumer to decrease the demand for new products to be produced!

When browsing the second-hand market, keep an eye out for pieces made out of eco-friendly materials such as wood or metal rather than plastic.

8. Invite the wildlife

Insect Hotel
Insect Hotel – Katie Olson

If you’ve got a little time on your hands and are looking for an eco-friendly project to embark on then here’s an excellent tip for you.

Have you seen an insect hotel before?

An insect hotel is simply a space created especially for bugs to call home, build nests in and hibernate.

Making some of the smallest, easily forgotten creatures a home is a perfect way to have a positive impact on your local eco-system.

This structure doesn’t have to be complicated. Build away using a mixture of natural and recycled materials.

Get creative and use what you have in abundances. For example, you could use bamboo, twigs, logs, dry leaves and straw or plastic water bottles, wooden pallets, broken mugs, plant pots and pebbles.

Most insects like cool and moist conditions so choose somewhere shady for your build![5]

9. Reasons to celebrate

Plant based BBQ
Plant-Based BBQ – Katie Olson

Now that you’ve built an incredible, eco-friendly garden, it might be time to share and celebrate your green space with friends and family.

Don’t let all your eco-effort go to waste. Try to keep your gathering with as little impact on the earth as possible!

If planning a BBQ has you reaching for disposable plastic cutlery and cups – stop.

Or stretch a little further and thoughtfully select disposable utensils that will biodegrade such as wooden or bamboo cutlery, plates and bowls.

Swap balloons and micro-plastic confetti for paper decorations and flowers, these will compost rather than become plastic pollution.

A fun idea is to set yourself little eco-challenges, for example, can you cook up a yummy BBQ without any meat or foods prepackaged in plastic?! 

Now it’s up to you

Everyone has a different outdoor space to work with, so enjoy embracing what you have.

Whether it’s expansive grounds, a patch of grass and patio or even just a balcony or windowsill I hope you’ve found some inspiration in these eco-friendly tips.

Get outside and start making a positive impact on the environment in your own back yard! 

Be sure to let us know if you have any other tips or if you implement any of ours!

Words and images by Katie Olson

[1] Save the bees, Green Peace, www.greenpeace.org/usa/sustainable-agriculture/save-the-bees/

[2]  Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2016, DIY Fertilizers – How to Use Banana Peels www.themicrogardener.com

[3] Gemma Alexander, The Problems With Pesticides, 31 March 2020, www.earth911.com/living-well-being/the-problems-with-pesticides/

[4] Impact of Solar Energy On The Environment, 1 October 2019, www.greenmatch.co.uk/blog/2015/01/impact-of-solar-energy-on-the-environment

[5] How to build an insect home, www.edenproject.com/learn/for-everyone/how-to-build-an-insect-home

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