What Is Sustainable Gardening?

Garden sustainability in its rawest form is simply being mindful of what we put into the ground. Sustainability aims to scrap the use of harmful products like pesticides and chemicals, replacing them with organic counterparts.

The practice of sustainable gardening can be as simple and as small as you can manage! All moves towards sustainability can positively impact our environment. Here are just a few easy ways to help you get started on your journey to sustainability.

Get Composting

Kitchen scraps, garden waste, leaves from the tree, you name it – it’s going in the compost! Making your own compost is an easy enough process (albeit slower than buying a bag from the shop) allowing you to rid yourself of stuff you’d normally just throw in the bin. It also helps add nutrients back into the ground, completing the circle of plant life. If you’ve ever wondered about composting, why not start today?

Be Anti-Plastic

Plastics and micro-plastics are an issue for the environment. As they don’t decompose, if they’re not reused they’ll be chucked away. These single-use plastics then find their way to landfills or even the ocean, affecting wildlife.

Using biodegradable products in place of plastics can make a bigger impact when practising sustainable gardening than you may think. For example, swapping plastic plant labels for wooden lolly sticks. These small steps come together to make a huge difference.

Use Peat Free Products

According to the RHS, peat filled compost causes severe harm to the environment. Switching to peat-free products protects your environment and is an easy switch to make.

Many people who have made the switch have noted that their soil seems to retain more water and produces more seedlings!

Go Organic

Pesticides and chemicals are harmful to wildlife, so it’s advised to avoid the use of them where possible. For example, you can use ground coffee to repel slugs from produce. The coffee then is absorbed into the soil, providing further nutrients! It’s a win-win.

Overall, any small change is a step in the right direction!

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British garden birds could disappear by 2100, here’s how we can help

Who doesn’t love listening to the sounds of birds in the morning? British garden birds are a wonderful sight in any garden, but recent studies suggest that less and less birds are being spotted around Britain. While the reasons behind their disappearance are still being studied, discover some of the environmental reasons behind their decline and how British gardens can help.

The Data

According to data found by The RSPB, sighting of common birds have declined rapidly since since 1979. RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch data shows that common species such as house sparrows are down 53% and starling sightings are down 80%. The reasons behind these declines are still under study, however there are some obvious factors. A lack of green spaces around the UK, and the continual effects climate change are to name a few. With our climate getting warmer, this could be bad news for bird species that depend on stable access to food in certain seasons.

Several bird species depend on the abundance of larvae while their young are small. Great tits have evolved to breed at the same time that insect larvae is at its most abundant. This is to ensure the breed has a ready food source for their chicks. The larvae feeds on leaves but as earlier springs causes trees to leaf out earlier; this will cause larvae that feed on the plants to hatch out earlier. If larvae supply peaks earlier in the spring than normal due to higher temperatures, this could lead to a lack of food for the hatchlings.

Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology used population models of several bird species to calculate the consequences of different climate scenarios. While great tits can evolve to keep up with prey, a faster change in temperature could see the birds left behind. The ‘breaking point’ is estimated to be when larvae and leaves are produced 24 days earlier than they are at the moment. The University researchers found that the worst case scenario could lead to whole populations of great tits disappearing by the year 2100, simply because they aren’t able to procure enough food for their young.

How we can help garden birds

“The good news is that the populations will be able to survive scenarios with lower or medium warming trends,” says Emily Simmonds, an associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. So to help our british garden birds, we need to control the environmental changes caused by climate change.

No task is too small when it comes to helping combat climate change. That being the case, people can make a huge contribution by cutting energy use as much as possible. Simply buying energy-efficient appliances, turning off lights when not needed, using the eco settings on washing machines can make an impact.

Wondering how you can help in the garden? Dr Kate Plummer, of the British Trust for Ornithology says buying a bird feeder “provides water and places for animals to shelter and breed”. Around half of UK householders are now thought to feed birds in their gardens, helping to keep our local species well-fed and safe. More ways to help in the garden is to create a safe haven for British garden birds by growing native plants. As well as using fewer pesticides, and adding a bird bath.

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How Gardening Helps the Environment

Whatever the size, our gardens can help the environment in lots of ways. To help reduce the human impact on the environment and the world we live in, here are some fantastic environmental gardening tips to bring into your outdoor space.

Helps tackle pollution

Planting particular trees has been shown to improve local air quality. Garden trees do a great job trapping pollution particles, absorbing toxic gases and producing oxygen; this helps to mitigate the harmful air pollution that’s released from the engines of our cars and machines. The best trees to plant to help reduce pollution are maples including ornamental acers, silver birch, alder and conifers. Acers are a great choice for those with little outdoor space, as dwarf varieties are perfect for patios and pots.

Reduces noise pollution

Since many homes in the UK are close to busy roads, we have a few methods for soundproofing your garden and reducing unwanted noise pollution. Planting shrubs is one of the effective ways to lessen the noise in your garden. For instance, shrubs like Hollies and Junipers have thick branches at ground level, which can help reduce traffic noise. Once these shrubs reach maturity, they will create a barrier to stop noise travelling.

Why not try encouraging wildlife into your outdoor space? Plant pollinator-friendly plants and you’ll be joined by an abundance of pleasant, natural sound — which is a great distraction from external noise.

Protects natural habitats

Birds and squirrels need a natural habitat in which they can thrive — and the garden can be the perfect place for them. Planting trees and hedging is an easy environmental gardening technique to create natural homes for all the small local mammals. Fragrant flowers like spring-flowering Muscari or Roses also attract butterflies and bees, which are great pollinators who benefit the environment.

Reduces urban “heat islands”

As cities grow, natural greenery is replaced with concrete. These building materials become impermeable and dry, which causes cities to heat up, creating “heat islands”. Since gardens in London are 26% smaller than the national average, according to the Office of National Statistics, many city dwellers need to be practical when it comes to gardening. A rooftop garden can have amazing environmental and social benefits. Green roofs provide shade, remove heat from the air, and reduce temperatures of the roof surface. Using green roofs in built-up environments with limited vegetation can moderate the heat island effect, particularly during the day. 

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Flowering Trees For Your Garden

First launched in 1975, #NationalTreeWeek is the UK’s largest tree celebration, annually launching the start of the winter planting season. Take this fantastic opportunity to discuss the importance of trees to our planet as well as key environmental issues, so get inspired to plant through our fantastic selection of bestselling trees.

Here’s our top 10 flowering trees to spruce up your landscape and help the planet.

Prunus Kanzan (Japanese Flowering Cherry)

One of the most popular Japanese flowering cherry trees, Prunus ‘Kanzan‘ is loaded with pinkish/purple double flowers with a frilly edge. The flowers bloom from March until its bronze foliage begins to unfurl. The bronze coloured leaves turn green before adopting burnt orange colours in autumn.

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Magnolia ‘Nigra’

Holder of the RHS Award of Garden Merit, Nigra is a beautiful Magnolia variety. Their tulip-shaped deep purple-pink flowers blossom in late spring and add an exotic touch to the garden border. Also, their blooms are fragrant and well-loved by pollinators.

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Amelanchier canadensis

This bushy little tree that provides interest all year round, with masses of white flowers in spring followed by red, edible fruit in summer (get them before the birds do!). One of the most striking plants for autumn colour with its vivid flamed leaves.

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Cercis ‘Avondale’ (Chinese Redbud)

A real showstopper. This phenomenal tree is the centerpiece of any spring garden. The rich magenta pink flowers bloom on bare stems in late spring before the large heart-shaped green glossy leaves emerge and turn into a vivid yellow in autumn.

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 Eucalyptus (Cider Gum Tree)

Fast growing and easy to care for. This extremely hardy tree is tall and slender, with almost blue young foliage. Pretty white flowers emerge in early summer and their sprigs of grey-blue foliage can also be brought inside and used in cool-themed flower arrangements!

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Viburnum Opulus Roseum (Snowball Tree)

Brighten up the summer garden with this vigorous, deciduous shrub. The large and fragrant pompom-like white floral clusters bloom in late spring. In autumn, vibrant red berries appear and are an excellent food source for birds throughout the cold months.

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Wisteria multijuga

A winner of the RHS Award of Garden Merit, Wisteria ‘Multijuga‘ is one of the most desirable varieties of Japanese Wisteria on the market today. Noted for its excellent fragrance, their trailing clusters of highly fragrant lilac flowers bloom from May through to September.

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Apple Cox’s Orange Pippin

The definitive English desert apple with an aromatic flavour. This red tinted apple ripens in October and is ready to pick. During April and May, the tree itself develops beautiful white flowers that attract butterflies and birds into the garden.

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7 Ways to Help Wildlife in your Garden

For many people, wildlife is a welcome addition to the garden, bringing a cheerful breath of life and character to your very own backyard.

It is especially vital at this time of year, in the cold frosty months, to keep supporting your local wildlife with the space you have. Taking just a little time out of your day to make some easy changes in your garden can attract a flurry of wildlife and help do your bit for the environment.

Here are seven easy ways to make it happen;

  1. Leave a snack

Food can be scarce for animals during the winter, so this time of year is the perfect time to begin attracting wildlife to your garden. Even something as simple as adding a bird feed or scattering monkey nuts on the lawn can easily attract various wildlife to your garden. A bird table is a fantastic way of enticing birds into a specific area of the garden.

  1. Choose Shrubs for shelter and food

If you have the space grow trees and big shrubs. By devoting even the smallest part of your garden to attracting wildlife you can turn it into a paradise for beneficial birds, mammals and insects.

Birds are attracted to areas where they find both food and shelter. A good way of doing so in the autumn/winter is by planting up shrubs and trees which produce berries, such as Ilex (Holly), Pyracantha or Gaultheria. Not only will they produce valuable food but they also produce some much needed ornamental value in the Winter months.

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  1. Choose nectar-rich flowers

Bees and butterflies will visit most gardens, especially if they find plants in sunny or sheltered locations. The secret here is to make available nectar rich, fragrant flowers which are colourful and from which they feed. Lavender, Buddleia, Syringa, Forsythia and Echinacea are just a few fantastic garden favourites for attracting butterflies and all look great in the garden!

Ornamental grasses are also a popular way of making the garden appealing to seed eating birds.

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  1. Don’t forget water!

Just a little water left out can help out passing critters. Remember if you have a water feature or are near bodies of water, be sure to provide water and shelter for Toads. These are great for keeping unwanted pests at bay and if you have a pond or one nearby its likely you already have Frogs and Toads living nearby. If you have a dog remember Toads will release skin secretions which are toxic to dogs.

  1. Use an old Tennis Ball

Having a space for a water feature in your garden is a fantastic way to attract wildlife, but in the colder months freezing temperatures can create lethal conditions for your pondlife. A great tip for preventing your water feature from completely freezing over is to float several old tennis balls on the surface.

  1. Offer Shelter

Critters and bugs appreciate a little homemade shelter. A pile of old logs or bricks, some overgrown grass or turned over empty pots can all help with providing shelter for animals – Hedgehogs will happily take advantage of your hospitality and thank you by eating pesky slugs and snails – an ideal natural defender of you Hosta plants! 

  1. Go Wild

Wild gardens and meadows have been popular in recent years for their stylish swathes of summer colour. Composting and letting a few patches of your garden grow a little wild will help to encourage visitors (and what gardener needs to be told the virtues of compost!).

Online now you will find many varieties of plants and shrubs which will help you along the way, by both attracting and providing food/shelter for various forms of wildlife.

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