By changing just a few small ways that you garden, you can make your space a more eco-friendly one, to support the environment and the whole planet.

What is ‘green gardening’?

‘Green’ is just another way of saying you are gardening with the planet and sustainability in mind. Trying to limit or avoid any harm to the planet at all, and instead, just giving back to the environment.

With just a few small changes can be hugely impactful, helping both local wildlife and being an affordable gardening practice.

How to make your compost eco-friendly

Making your own compost

Compost and organic matter are essential for feeding our plants. And it creates a healthy environment for them to grow. Making your own compost is a great way of reducing your household and garden waste and using it for good. A great general rule of thumb when making compost is to keep an even mix of green and brown material.

Green material includes clippings, leaves, flowers, or kitchen peelings. Brown materials are items like sticks and cardboard. This will give your garden plenty of essential nutrients to keep your plants happy and healthy.

Compost bin eco-friendly
Peatland stores carbon

Why go peat-free?

‘Peat-free’ is an incentive amongst compost producers to reduce or remove peat completely from their supplies. ‘Peat’ comes from rare peatlands, which store massive amounts of carbon. UK peatlands alone store around 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon, making peatlands the second-largest carbon storage environment in the world. This is only surpassed by the oceans.

More than 94% of UK lowland peat bogs have suffered from destruction or damage. Therefore, reducing the amount of peat we use in our gardens will protect them.

How to practice eco-friendly watering

Reducing how much water you use that ends up wasted in the garden is another step towards being eco-friendly. The energy that goes into cleaning and transporting our water around the country can be reduced by limiting our use.

Collecting rainwater

One of the simplest measures you can take is installing a water butt. This will collect natural rainwater from your guttering system for you to water your plants with, either with an automatic irrigation system or a watering can.

Both of these methods will give you more control when watering and allows you to water each plant more directly for less waste.

Water butt

Rainwater is actually better for your plants than water from your mains. It has a neutral pH of 7, rather than being slightly alkaline, which tap water is. Be particularly aware of this when watering acid-loving plants like Rhododendrons and Magnolias.

Rainwater also contains nitrates, which are a form of nitrogen, which plants use during photosynthesis. You will find this more readily in rainwater as the water is electrified in the atmosphere by lightning.

When to water?

To reduce water waste by evaporation, aim to water first thing in the morning. This will reduce how much is lost to evaporation during the peak heat of the day. Also, watering in the evening encourages slugs, so whilst there will be less evaporation, you might find more of these pests lurking about.

Mulching the garden to avoid evaporation

Mulching your garden

Applying mulch in your garden is another way to reduce water loss. What this does, is, again, reduce how much water evaporates rather than being absorbed by your plants. Not only this, but mulching can suppress weeds too. This will limit how much each of your plants has to compete for their water and nutrient supply, meaning they are happier and watering is needed less frequently.

How to reduce plastic waste in the garden

Getting rid of plastic completely in the garden is unrealistic: not only is it extremely affordable and readily available, but it lasts a long time too. So finding ways to reuse what you already have, and limiting your use of single-use plastic are great options to lean towards greener practices. Finding alternatives to plastic where you can is also a fantastic eco-friendly switch you can try to make here and there.

Recycling plastic

Finding ways to reuse the plastic you already have is a great way to save money, and avoid it going into landfill. For example, the plastic pots that your young plants are bought it, could be reused as seed trays or containers to grow other plants in, both indoors and outdoors. If you take good care of them, they could last you years.

Other plastic items that you could use include empty yoghurt pots to grow small plants in, milk bottles can become homemade watering cans, and water bottles can be transformed into miniature greenhouses or irrigation systems. Finding smart ways to reuse the plastic you already have, saves you from buying other products, and gives single-use plastic a new lease of life.

Terracotta pots as a plastic alternative

Did you know that black plastic can’t be detected by the optical sorting systems in recycling plants? That is why black plastic typically ends up in landfill rather than being recycled. That’s why the HTA (Horticultural Trade Association) have curated  ‘taupe’ plastic pots in 2018. These are gradually being phased into the horticultural world as a fully recyclable replacement for black plastic pots you would normally find your garden centre plants in.


For some elements of the garden, there are alternatives to plastic which work well for many plants. Terracotta has been used globally for thousands of years, with small terracotta figures being used as votive offerings in the Early Bronze Age of Greece (as early as 3000 BCE). Here are some of the reasons terracotta pots are so great to use for your plants:

Terracotta pots as a plastic alternative
  1. They absorb water quickly. This not only makes them the ideal home for drought-tolerant plants like lavender, but they also make it clear when the plants need watering. Because the terracotta itself absorbs water, it leaves visible marks as the water is taken up by the plant. These lines left on the outside of the pot can give you a good idea of how much water has been absorbed.
  2. Terracotta is eco-friendly. Not only because they are completely reusable, and contain no plastic, they are also completely biodegradable. And if they break, the pot shards might come in handy for other areas in the garden. Or you could get creative and upcycle them into something new.
  3. It is breathable. Because the material is so porous, air is able to pass through it. This helps the soil to stay healthy, and it also is great for preventing disease for your plants.

It is worth noting that because terracotta is so breathable, it is great for drought-tolerant plants, but may not be ideal for moisture-loving plants. For example, ferns, irises, and calla lilies would be better suited in less-porous containers.


For something very similar to plastic, bamboo pots are a great option for growing your plants. Made predominantly from bamboo, with rice and resin they are made from completely naturally-occurring compounds. Unlike plastic, they are completely biodegradable, and can even be composted once you are finished with them. Simply break them up, and they should break down in between 6 to 12 months. This ability to biodegrade means they won’t last as long as plastic pots, but they will last for approximately 5 years.

Making a few simple changes in your garden can have a great positive impact on the environment. Doing your little bit help reduce waste for a more eco-friendly garden.

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