Minimising waste in your garden is a wonderful way to maintain sustainability. By using what nature already provides, you will save money, and it’s better for your plants too. Plus, sustainability in the garden will have a positive impact on the environment, and the wildlife living within it.

How to use basic gardening methods

Adding organic material to farmed fields dates to at least the Stone Age. There is even evidence suggesting that the Scots improved their small farms with compost 12,000 years ago.

By producing your compost, you can reduce the amount of waste in landfills, and it can benefit your soil. Composting is an aerobic process, requiring oxygen to work.

combining green and brown material for composting

Microorganisms such as bacteria, actinomycetes and fungi work with worms to break down the organic compounds. They use organic material as food, leaving a simpler material behind to use as compost.

It is important to balance green and brown materials evenly. Green materials are high in nitrogen and quick to rot such as fruit and veg peelings and grass cuttings. Brown materials are high in carbon, such as straw, hay, and cardboard. There should be around half and half of each, but you can adjust to suit certain conditions.

If the mixture seems too wet and smells, add more brown material to help balance it out. On the other hand, if the materials are all woody and coarse, add more green material.

Why make your own compost?

It can take anywhere between 3 months to a few years for compost to be ready. You’ll be able to tell when it’s got a crumbly consistency and is dark brown in colour with an earthy smell. By adding compost to your garden, it will improve the soil by returning organic matter. This will also improve drainage and water retention.

Because composting needs oxygen, make sure to turn it to create pockets of air to complete the aerobic process.

Try to position your compost bin on soil without a base. This helps drainage as well as increasing access to soil organisms, helping the process.

Plastic composters work well thanks to their convenient hatches for adding material and removing compost. Alternatively, making a compost heap from wooden pallets is a good DIY project if you have a lot of garden waste and a large space.

Aerating a compost bin for more oxygen

How to conserve water in the garden

Roman engineering of aqueducts allowed water to be held and used to fill public baths, fountains, and water for households. Today, we have running water within our homes, but it is still key to making the most of nature’s offerings. Being in the UK means we have plenty of rainfall.

Roman aqueduct

Water butts are a great sustainable method of collecting rainwater. These tanks are typically made from plastic, but they can be made from other materials like steel. Opaque materials are used so that sunlight can’t get to the water which decreases algae growth. Covering the containers also means that insects, debris, and animals can’t get in either.

Prime position

Next, choose the best position for your water butt. Connect it to a downpipe, so there is an easy flow of water. These can be situated at the rear of your home, the garage, greenhouse or even a shed. One of my top tips is to cover the end of the drainpipe with a pair of old tights. This acts as a filter, stopping leaves and debris. Clear out the tights regularly to stop a build-up of materials too.

Why use rainwater in the garden?

Around 205 billion litres of water are used outdoors every year, mostly in our gardens. Switching from relying on mains means you’re saving both water and money.

Using a water butt for more water sustainability

Plus, rainwater is better for your plants than mains water. There is chlorine, fluoride and limescale in tap water in the UK. Chlorine disinfects the water supply for safe drinking but can be bad for plants.

Rainwater is referred to as soft water, as it is untreated with chemicals and minerals. In addition, rainwater has a pH of between 5 and 5.5, which is suitable for most plants.

Compared to the more alkaline pH of UK tap water which is between 6.5 and 9.5. Not only is the pH of rainwater more suitable, but the temperature is too. Plants prefer tepid water rather than overly hot or cold water.

Grow your own produce

Finding a space in the garden to grow produce you use regularly, saves money and is good for the planet. By growing your own, you are reducing the carbon footprint of your food, and the amount of plastic used.

Vegetables are a guaranteed win when it comes to sustainable gardening. Choosing vegetables that you are likely to use regularly and turn over consistently are the best choices. For example, tomatoes, salad greens, and potatoes are staples on a day-to-day basis for meals. And they are extremely versatile for these meals. There are countless ways to use potatoes too!

In addition, you could also grow vegetables which you can freeze and save for when you do need to use them, such as broccoli, young carrots, sweetcorn, beans, and peas. This also helps valuable nutrients to be retained as much as possible, by freezing them when fresh.

You can do this if you don’t have a large garden space outdoors. Indoors, vegetables such as microgreens, garlic, salad greens, small carrot varieties, chilli peppers, spring onions and more require little space.

Just find a sunny windowsill, some appropriately sized containers for what you are growing, and some peat-free compost.

Frozen broccoli

Choosing to garden sustainably will both save you money and is good for the planet. Consider some of these methods when starting your spring garden.

Find out how to build a raised bed in your garden:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas: