Green Gardening Secrets: Building Ecosystems

Keeping a “green” garden is about more than the lushness of your plants. A green garden is a sustainable, energy-saving, eco-conscious garden that conserves limited (and expensive) resources like water and power by working more efficiently. Green gardening takes many different forms, and most gardeners are well aware of how to conserve and save. That being said, almost all gardens could be working more efficiently. That’s why we are doing a multi-part blog series dedicated to giving our readers some “green” ideas that they can take with them when designing and maintaining their landscapes, because the best gardens work their hardest to preserve and accentuate natural beauty, not take it away.

Eco gardening cuts down on waste, reduces energy consumption, and goes easy on our delicate climate. The first step to creating a more “green” garden is going back to the roots of what a garden is: an ecosystem that you have created right outside your home.

That means your garden is going to be filled with bugs. This might have its fair share of negative connotations, but green gardeners know that there are just as many good garden bugs as there are bad garden bugs, and good bugs can act as great fortifiers and all-natural pesticides against harmful infestations. Ladybugs and lacewings, for example, love eating aphids, a common garden pest. By planting flowers that attract ladybugs, like marigolds and sunflowers, you can create a natural defense against pests. In this way, you are building a stronger garden ecosystem and eliminating the constant need for chemical pesticides.

Birds are also an important part of a garden ecosystem. Though they sometimes munch on our fruits and veggies, they also do a great job of controlling pests. By installing a few bird feeders around your yard, you can fight against snail, slug, and caterpillar infestations.  This is a cheap, easy, and low-impact way of keeping pest populations under control.

In many ecosystems, organisms will naturally evolve together and provide protection and safety to one another. The plants in your garden are capable of the same thing. Companion planting is an age-old farming practice in which two plants that complement each other are planted together in order to encourage growth and durability. For example, tall sun-loving plants might be used to provide shade for short, shade-loving plants. Planning out your garden in this way will make your ecosystem more efficient and sustainable. You won’t have to work as hard to keep your plants thriving, and that usually translates into energy costs as well. Some good companion planting combos are: chives and tomatoes, rose and garlic, carrot and spring onion, melon and marigold, sweet corn and green beans, and cucumbers and dill!

Another point to consider: where is your garden growing? What is the weather like? How about the soil? What kind of native plants and animals live there? Including a variety of native plant species in your garden will certainly boost its longevity. Native species are used to the unique soil and weather conditions in your area, and they can better fight against droughts and disease. They also attract native animal species and can ward off invasive plant and animal life. Invasive plants like kudzu can severely harm your garden ecosystem if allowed to grow unchecked, whereas native plants are good for the environment and require less energy and resources to thrive. Native planting is yet another smart way to create a vibrant garden ecosystem.

These are just a few green gardening suggestions. Check back in for a more in-depth look at other green gardening techniques such as composting and building rain gardens. We look forward to seeing what kind of ecosystem you create!

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