Contrary to common belief, not all gardening is green. In fact, certain kinds of landscaping can be detrimental to the environment.
For instance, an unnecessarily large lawn that consumes too much water, has to be mowed every other day and is laden with weed killers and pesticides, does more harm than good to the environment.
Green landscaping is about growing without resorting to artificial chemicals, too much water use and excessive energy consumption. Many people would refer to it as organic landscaping, but it goes beyond that.
It is not complicated, but to count yourself as a green gardener, you need to know what it actually involves. We look at some of the key principles to help you practise environmental prudence in your backyard.
In green landscaping, the answer really lies in the soil. Soil is a complex, living mixture of minerals and organic matter, constantly changing but always full of the things plants need.
Healthy soil directly translates into healthy and strong plants. Hence getting it in good condition is essential.
The key to this is stocking up the soil with the nutrients that come from organic matter.
Composting gives you the opportunity to create these vital organic materials from your waste.
Instead of throwing away the lawn clippings, fallen leaves, green kitchen waste and dead plant material, you can put them in a compost bin, provide the right conditions for them to rot and forget ever buying fertiliser.
Native and adaptive plants
Plants vary in their requirements. It therefore follows that your own style of gardening, the direction your garden faces, your soil type and your local climate, work better for growing certain plants as compared to others.
As a green gardener, you must know the plants that naturally grow well within your site.
You need to assess your environment and choose plants that are best suited to your conditions to ensure that they naturally grow better, are less stressed and less likely to fall prey to pests and diseases.
These are usually species that are native to your region and those that are able to adapt to your environmental conditions.
Mention green landscaping and most people immediately accept that it means avoiding the use of chemicals. The theory, at least, is that if plants are growing as well as they possibly could be, they will not need constant spraying as they struggle against poor growing conditions.
Hence, green gardening is about trying to avoid the use of chemicals in pesticides, fungicides, weed killers and fertilisers through prevention rather than cure.
Reducing, reusing, recycling
Most people are aware of the need to make the most of resources and the importance of reducing our use of materials, reusing things and recycling. As a green gardener, your approach should always take these into account.
The best approach is to buy and consume as little as you can, compost all your waste, recycle water and never ever use portable water.
When it comes to the manufactured elements, the basic precepts of green building apply.
Choose renewable, recyclable, and healthy materials such as recycled-plastic decking. Also consider permeable paving in place of concrete to keep storm runoff in the ground instead of loading up the drainage system with water and all the yard and driveway chemicals it brings with it.