Earth Conscious Gardening Ideas: How To Make Your Garden Earth Friendly

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

You don’t have to be a “tree hugger” to want to do somethingto help the earth remain healthy. Green gardening trends thrive both online andin print. Environmentally friendly gardens start with a conscious decision tolower your carbon footprint, reducechemical use, and go back to natural ways of maintaining your landscape.

For those of us passionate about keeping our world clean and safe for all, earth conscious gardening is a way of life.

If you are new to the practice, some tips on how to make your garden earth friendly can get you on the right path to a sustainable way of life that doesn’t impact nature.

What is Earth Conscious Gardening?

Turn on the television or boot up your computer and you aresure to see products, ideas, and stories on eco-friendly gardening tips. Theidea is to boost pollination,increase biodiversity, and use landscape techniques that are conservative.

Humans are an important part of slowing global warming, reducingwaste, and lowering energy consumption. The key maxims, “reduce, reuse, recycle,”should be applied to environmentally friendly gardens. Changes don’t have to bemade overnight, but there are some easy alterations you can make today to yourgardening practices that will benefit everyone in the long run.

Eco-Friendly Gardening Tips

One of the easiest ways to go green is by choosingnative plants. They are already adapted to the area and will need lesswater, are less susceptible to disease and insect pests, provide habitat andpollination opportunities for wildlifeand beneficialinsects, and support the native diversity. It is just one quick step tomake your garden earth friendly.

Another important step is reducing the size of the lawn.Doing so conserves water, mowing, fertilizer, chemical use for weed prevention,and gives you more space to plant a multitude of beneficial plants.

Here are some environmentally friendly gardening ideas:

  • Add flowering plants to attract pollinators.
  • Capture rainwater and use it for irrigation.
  • Use mulch to reduce evaporation.
  • Set up a compost bin or pile.
  • Use only organic products in your garden.
  • Encourage birds which will eat many of the damaging insects in your yard.
  • Buy soil, mulch and other items in bulk to reduce the packaging that comes in smaller amounts.

Even simple changes that seem small have been shown toprovide a host of benefits to the environment and they don’t have to beexpensive or time consuming.

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Integrating Indoors and Outdoors Spaces

Houseplants have been experiencing a resurgence in recent years. But building on the popularity of growing low maintenance succulents and other houseplants indoors, I have noticed a shift, again, towards more holistic thinking. Houseplants are increasingly seen not just as design features for home interiors, but as a way to bring the outside inside. A way to connect with nature, clean the air, and live in a more sustainable way in general.

Outdoors living has also been increasingly popular in recent years. And it comes as no surprise that during lockdowns, people have come to see their gardens more and more as extensions of their homes. Increasingly, people are attempting to create outdoor living spaces that blend holistically with planting and natural features – blending and blurring the lines between home and garden, between the human-built environment and the natural world.

Why Your Pandemic Garden Wasn’t Just a Panic Hobby

There's something grounding and hopeful about growing plants.

If you started a "pandemic garden" as COVID-19 spread around the globe in 2020, you're not alone. Millions of us did, including me in a way, though I live in a second-floor apartment in London without much green space. However, inspired by research for my book The Last Garden in England, which tells the story of five women living in three time periods who are all connected by one incredible garden, I pulled on my gardening gloves. I planted out bare-root roses in pots and fussed over the clematis that grows by my front door. And while reading up on significant movements in garden history, I realized that our desire to grow plants, especially vegetables and fruits, during a crisis is part of a long tradition dating back to the World Wars.

During World War II, for example, many countries encouraged citizens to start gardening to help supplement food rations. In the United Kingdom, the government motivated people to till the soil with the slogan, "Dig for Victory." Gardens popped up along railway lines, in local allotments, and abandoned lots in the city, as well as the flower gardens of country estates. In London, even Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park helped encourage people to garden by installing gardens of their own, and at Sandringham House, a private home of King George VI, gardeners dug up the house's long stretch of lawn to plant vegetables.

It took a little longer for the U.S. to enter the wartime gardening game, but shortly after Pearl Harbor, the Department of Agriculture began to campaign for people to create "Victory Gardens." (This wasn't the first time that Americans were asked to garden for the war effort. During World War I, the government also encouraged people to plow and plant unused land to help feed the nation.) Like their counterparts across the pond, Americans began growing more produce at home, especially because many commercial crops were earmarked for the troops.

A Life Magazine article from May 3, 1943, features the 18,000,000 Victory Gardens being tended by Americans, including ones in some surprising places. "Every unprotected piece of ground was being dug up for Victory Gardens: in Boston's Copley Square and in the Portland (Ore.) Zoo, in Chicago's Arlington racetrack and in the Wellesley College campus," the author writes. "Everyone was busy tucking seeds to bed in the moist spring soil—movie stars, soldiers, admirals, airline hostesses, nuns and prisoners."

Psychologists who have studied the effects of gardening on people's wellbeing have found that it can help boost your mood and calm worries.

A thriving Victory Garden meant having a healthy mix of seasonal produce that could be eaten fresh or canned for later to help feed the family. However, these gardens in the U.S. as well as the green spaces of those who dug for victory in the U.K. weren't just about producing food, important though that was. They were a vital part of boosting morale for those on the home front, helping them feel connected to the larger war effort. They may have also helped improve people's mental health. Psychologists who have studied the effects of gardening on people's wellbeing have found that it can help boost your mood and calm worries.

The satisfaction of doing something active that can also help you feed your family and calm you through anxious times may be why so many of us felt drawn to our gardens big and small during the first wave of the coronavirus disease outbreak. Now, a new growing season is on the horizon while the pandemic drags on, so no doubt your new gardening habit will serve you well this spring, too.

My own garden will be growing in a big way in 2021. I'll be moving from that London flat with its container garden of roses to a new home that has its own private garden. This luxury means that for the first time in my life I'll have a garden to grow in over the years to come. There may even be room for a modest vegetable patch to start a Victory Garden of my very own.

Top gardening trends of 2020 and what to watch for 2021

Gardening is a hobby, craft and lifestyle that dates back thousands of years. Over that time, the act has taken on different forms and garnered wavering interest. What was once a mandatory way of life to provide food for the family transitioned into an option as global transportation and supermarkets took center stage in providing meals. But there’s something primal about gardening that makes it rewarding, whether that takes shape as growing your own food or simply cultivating a patio of natural decor from a combination of potted and planted foliage.

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has changed the way many of us spend our days. Having more time at home, voluntary or not, has encouraged bread baking, language learning, and even instrument playing. Additionally, there’s been a significant uptick in interest around all things gardening related. Google data reports a 39% increase from last year to this year on the topic — a good indicator of what’s on people’s minds. With this information, the experts at Love the Garden analyzed over 100 different garden-related hashtags on Instagram to uncover those growing in popularity and representing likely trends for 2021.

Ten trends topped the list, with #balconygardening, #wildgarden and #insideoutside coming in for the top three. Balcony gardening offers a compact way to liven up a space or even grow food, so it makes sense as a popular topic, especially during lockdown. People used this hashtag 96,817 times, showing an international interest. Meanwhile, #wildgarden garnered 91,777 posts, indicating another popular gardening technique in the desire to not tame the wild. Unsurprisingly, #insideoutside saw 83,731 posts. After all, when it comes to plant life, a major goal is surrounding ourselves in nature. Think greenhouse living rooms on your back patio to bring this idea into perspective. Organize the couches and tables in a space with fresh air and naturally growing greenery to bring the indoors outdoors.

The next most-populated hashtag was #tinygarden, with an impressive 80,752 posts. This trend illustrates how even urban locations and tiny home lots can use a small space to add natural appeal. In the middle of the top 10 was #raisedbedgarden (78,910), outlining ways areas with less-than-desirable soil conditions can still grow food and other greenery. In addition to what’s grown inside the raised beds, designing and building the beds is another hobby to tap into during social distancing.

The 76,576 posts related to #permaculturegarden prove that the design theory is alive and well. Permaculture gardening is a practice that takes into account all the features of the gardening system. It creates a permanent garden that respects the natural forces of wind, sun and water. Basically, this approach centers holistic gardening and appears to be an ongoing trend to watch.

The number seven spot goes to #whitegarden with 51,750 posts. There’s something minimalist about an all-white space a cleansing palette for the eyes and calming spot to relax. Color coordinating the garden space is not new and going classic with all-white blooms is still an obvious favorite.

Even smaller than the patio or remote section of the yard, using what’s available takes gardening indoors with #windowsillgarden, mentioned 48,432 times. After all, if you live in an apartment with no balcony, a sunny windowsill may be the only garden space up for offer. Especially during quarantine, finding any way to bring green design into your home not only sparks joy but also provides the added benefit of natural air filtration for cleaner air that is higher in oxygen and lower in carbon dioxide.

Going back to color-themed gardens, #greygardens comes in ninth place with 45,124 mentions. Grey has sat at the top of the interior design color palette for the past decade so it’s not surprising gardeners want to keep the trend alive in outdoor spaces too. While most plants don’t fall into the grey category, furniture, stone walkways, water features and decking set a slate foundation for the surrounding landscape.

Finally, rounding out the top 10 most popular gardening related hashtags for 2020 is #cottagegardens at 37,021 posts. Again, this doesn’t seem too outlandish considering the ongoing love for cabins and tiny houses, which fit the cottage vibe. Even Victorian architecture or farmhouse structures can easily take on a cottagecore interior design style, so bringing those elements into the garden makes sense.

Having a vision of what piqued interest in 2020 serves as a solid indicator for what trends will continue into 2021, but the team at Love the Garden further took the guesswork out of what to expect by seeking out other popular gardening trends. The hashtags they analyzed covered the topics of Zen, urban, and container gardening and also focused on sustainability. The top 15 hashtags include #growyourown, #urbangarden, #organicgardening, #urbangardening, #vegetablegarden, #succulentgarden, #indoorgarden, #japanesegarden, #containergardening, #gardentotable, #verticalgarden, #outdoorkitchen, #countrygarden, #citygarden and #zengarden, proving that whatever type of gardening you’re considering, there’s a plant for that.

Images via Love the Garden and Pexels

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