A Simple Guide to Sustainable Ways To Protect Your Garden: Maintaining a flourishing garden isn’t easy. There’s inevitably a degree of artificiality to its structure and component parts, featuring plants that aren’t native to your part of the world and flowers you’re hoping to preserve at odd times of the year — and then there’s the need to keep things aesthetically neat and pleasing, putting you at odds with the wonder of the natural world.
It’s our efforts to dominate nature that so often result in unsustainable practices. We introduce materials that disrupt as much as they preserve, or implement methods that aid our desired areas even as they negatively impact their surroundings. We should all strive to make better choices: having the garden of your dreams needn’t require you to cause any damage.
By Alistair Clarke
In this piece, then, we’re going to look at some sustainable actions you can take to keep your garden protected without defying nature in any way that’s detrimental to your local area or wildlife or plant life around the world. Let’s get to them:
One of the biggest things you can do with your garden is focus on using recycled materials for anything and everything you can. Note that you can buy recycled materials to use, or simply upcycle plastic containers and items you already have. As nice as it would be to simply snap our fingers and magic so much plastic away given the impact excess waste is having on the world, what’s been made can’t easily be unmade, and it’s better to use something than get rid of it and see the materials wasted again.
As for how exactly you use the materials, well, it depends both on what you have access to and what your style preferences are. Take the opportunity to get creative. If you can turn an old bucket into a stylish plant container through the judicious use of a craft knife, go for it. And if that old desk you were planning to throw out was built from really nice wood, consider breaking it up, sanding the wood down, varnishing it, and using it for anything from skirting for a soil patch to a homemade sun lounger (some DIY skill will be required, but learning is fun).
To some extent, you’ll always be at the mercy of wildlife. Animals will enter your garden on a regular basis, and they can tear up your best-laid plans (or plants, as the case may be). You can’t realistically stop them without harming them — but you can divert them by making an active effort to feed them in controlled ways. If you leave out bird food, for instance, the birds will be less inclined to root around your garden looking for things to eat.
You need to be responsible, though, as putting out food can go wrong. Food meant for one species can be taken by another, for instance, and having such a resource-rich area can lead to conflict among the animals trying to exploit it, causing more trouble than it avoids.
There are things you can do to prevent the first issue, of course. If you want to feed birds, for instance, you can keep squirrels away from your bird food with squirrel-proof bird feeders that cause no harm or distress. But what if there’s a flagging population for one species in your area and a surfeit of another species of roughly-similar size? Simply shielding the food won’t help.
The way forward may involve getting food painstakingly designed to appeal to only the species you’re trying to guard against — or it may involve putting out much less food and stopping altogether in the event that your garden starts attracting too much interest. When in doubt, do some research into wildlife conservation efforts in your area, and follow advice.
What about the animals you can’t simply distract through feeding? In other words, the pests that will pop up in the most inconvenient places, eating through your leaves and killing your plants. Many think that the obvious move for dealing with pests is to deploy potent pesticides — but from a sustainability standpoint, that’s a terrible move. Those substances will have wide-ranging effects, most notably reducing soil biodiversity and thus reducing long-term growth potential.
Instead of taking that route, you should use a combination of physical obstructions and insect countermeasures. The recycled materials we mentioned earlier can be used to form barriers around plants you want to protect. And if you pay close attention to any pests that threaten to harm your garden, you can carefully deploy insects that feed on those pests: beetles to prey on caterpillars, for instance, or ladybirds to attack aphids.
When you care about protecting your property, you can get the idea to wall it off from the world around you. That way, you won’t see budding flowers crushed by errant frisbees. But whether you use bricks or wooden slats, putting up that kind of barrier is far from ideal. Why? There are several reasons. Sunlight is one of them. Those big barriers prevent light from reaching your garden, and you want as much sunlight there as possible for plant growth.
You can still shield the area, of course: just do so with trees and hedges (place as appropriate). Using plant life to protect other plant life is a great move, cleaning up the air in the area and allowing all manner of additional organisms to flourish. Dense hedges will still keep out frisbees and other throwable items, block noise, and even provide shade where useful (just trim them wherever you want the light to be unobstructed). They’re also likely to be cheaper.
In conclusion, there’s much you can do to keep your garden safe while embracing nature, whether you’re reworking recycled materials in creative ways, giving area animals different things to feed on, battling pests without using pesticides, or putting up barriers made from plant life. Think about your garden in particular, and do what you can.
About The Author
Alistair Clarke is a general creative with a keen interest in finding neat solutions to life’s biggest issues. When he isn’t pitching posts or cultivating content, he’s planning home improvements. If you’d like to follow him on social media, that’s unfortunate, because he habitually avoids it.