10 Ways to Go Green When Gardening

Reading Time: 5 minutes

People keep gardens for a number of reasons.  But, one of the biggest ones is having a connection to the natural world in a physical way.  And I think too, there is a sense of getting back to one’s roots, if you’ll pardon the pun.

After all, we as a species went through a pretty big gardening phase.  Before industrialization, the food we ate was the food we directly helped to grow .  Gardening and a connection to the natural world was not just a hobby. It was vital to survival.

At this point in history, we’re thinking about gardening again in a new way, or perhaps a return to an old way.   It’s not as if gardening as a pastime has ever stopped. But, now the term green gardening is a topic of conversation.

But, what is it?  And what are some of the ways you can incorporate it into your life in the backyard, the balcony, or in the community at large?  Here are 10 tips from the experts as to how to go green in your garden, and reclaim that connection with the natural world that so many seek out when plunging their hands into the cool soil.

The philosophy and approach to green gardening is about letting one’s climate and eco-system lead the way when it comes to managing your garden.   This philosophy and approach determines how you choose plants, what the layout of your garden should be, how you manage pests, and any number of other factors involved in a successful garden.

And since there is so much information out there from the experts in the field, I’ve scoured the interwebs to find the best of it.  Here it is!

1. Mother (Nature) Knows Best
Here’s the hard facts, kids;  nature knows what it’s doing.  So, one thing to do is start researching to make sure we know what we’re doing in relation to nature.  Learn about your climate, and what conditions are most common. Read about how each species of plant and animal in your area interact, and interrelate in the survival stakes.  And plan your garden accordingly, integrated with that delicate eco-system.  Basically, this is an exercise in respecting one’s elders.  Generally speaking, this tip permeates and informs all of the other tips on this list. Thanks to PlanetGreen.com (@PlanetGreen on Twitter)

2. De-Toxify
Doing without chemical pesticides and fertilizers is  vital when green gardening.  With growing awareness of the alternatives that are biodegradable and non-toxic, and with a new way of approaching species that are known for being pests by noting how they may, in fact, actually be contributing to your garden, there is a wealth of resources out there to help you put your trust in Mother Nature.  Thanks to OrganicGardening.com

3. Trust the Locals
A basic question when starting a garden or revitalizing an existing one is that of what species is best to plant.  But, instead of traditional choices, when you’re looking to go green with your garden, it helps to take a look at the local flora which has thrived in your particular climate. There are some unsung winners out there that can give your garden the beauty you’re looking for, with the natural resistance and ability to flourish built right in.  Thanks to EcoSystemGardening.com (Eco System Facebook Page)

4. Welcome Bugs
There are a lot of reasons to avoid pesticides, particularly if you’re growing herbs that will eventually go in to making your dinner.  But, other advantages to avoiding the use of pesticides is that the species that will contribute most overtly to your garden.   Furthermore, in the light of the above point, it might be useful to research which plants in your area that are most bee and butterfly friendly, the ones are they most likely to find attractive.  These two species of insect are, of course, the pollinating heavyweights of the natural world.  If you’re going green, you want them on your side.  Thanks to DailyGreen.com (@The_Daily_Green on Twitter)

5. Water Is Gold
On a planet that is mostly covered in the stuff, it’s often difficult to remember that water is a precious commodity, despite its abundance.  It takes energy to pump it through pipes and out of our faucets, showers, and garden hoses. Minimizing water use is a key practice when you’re pursuing a green gardening course.  One way of doing this is by using the right kind of mulch, which retains moisture for a longer period than bare soil. You can also establish fencing and windbreaks that reduce the rate of evaporation due to wind and direct sunlight.  Thanks to the U.S Dept. of Agriculture (@USDAgov on Twitter) sponsored Natural Resources Conservation Service .

6. Buckets of rain …
“… Buckets of tears. Got all them buckets comin’ out of my ears”, as taken from Bob Dylan’s 1975 tune “Buckets of Rain”.  Anything to quote His Bobness.  And what I mean to imply with these lines is the old fashioned practice that has gained a new fangled prominence, and that is rain harvesting.    There are many ways of doing this which can involve some high-tech equipment. But , installing a rain barrel is a low-tech solution for collecting water for your garden.  This is a great way to cover the fifth point in this list, too – to treat water as the precious resource it is.  Thanks to GreenCulture.com (@GREENCulture on Twitter ).

7. Gardener’s Unite!
It may be that gardening to the scale you’d like isn’t possible.  Even though container gardening is a perfectly viable and fun project, if you’re looking to find a better use for organic wastage, and maybe in growing fruit and vegetables on a bigger scale than you can in your own space, it might be a good idea to find a community plot or local allotment program.    And you’re coming together with other like-minded neighbors too, who may have even more helpful tips on how to go green in your garden.  Thanks to the American Community Gardening Association .

8. DIY Compost
While it’s a good idea to reduce waste of any kind, including the amount of food wastage in the average home in the Western World, things like coffee grounds, fruit rinds, egg shells, and other food waste is like gold when it comes to creating natural fertilizer.  Instead of pitching it, why not give it back to the land, and enrich the soil of your garden instead of clogging up landfill sites?  And this way, you won’t be spending money on store bought fertilizers.  Yours will be DIY! For more tips on composting (including reducing odors!) check out Composting101.com

9. Grow Your Own
… Food, that is! Now, this kind of effort can take many forms depending on how much space you have.  But, even if you’re growing herbs and spices, or vine tomatoes on your balcony, you’re using available space to create a source for local food production.  This means inexpensive food grown without chemicals, and without a need to involve petroleum-reliant vehicles to get it to you.  Thanks to MotherEarthNews.com (@MotherEarthNews on Twitter).

10. RRR
And that’s not me growling seductively.  It’s the mantra of the green movement, the Three ‘R’s; reduce, re-use, recycle.  Apart from composting, which is referenced above, this has to do with choosing containers, trellises, fencing, and other accouterments of the gardening game which are derived from recycled materials, or from natural materials that are regulated and/or natrually renewable.  Thanks to GreenLivingTips.com (@GreenLivingTips on Twitter)



Garden in a bowl image courtesy of Zedmelody.   Bee image courtesy of Jack Wolf. Community garden image by Klest.

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Rob Jones

Rob served as Editor-In-Chief of BuildDirect Blog: Life At Home from 2007-2016. He is a writer, Dad, content strategist, and music fan.