Sustainable gardening is the way of the future.
If you enjoy using your green thumb, there are a number of things you can do to get smart with the sun, save on water and help give back to the local community.
Our resident gardening expert, Charlie Albone, believes that by adopting some simple eco-ways, you can be kinder to the planet around you.
Your garden is only as good as those that inhabit it
"A well-balanced ecosystem will make your garden healthier and easier to look after, so it’s important to do what you can to help your garden’s inhabitants thrive," says Charlie.
"An easy place to start is by leaving water out for birds, creating a bug hotel for insects to take shelter in, or keeping a simple native stingless beehive attached to the side of the house."
Plant local and low-maintenance
Charlie suggests we get smart about the types of plants we choose to cultivate. "Local endemic and native species will limit how much additional care you need to give them," he shares.
"Local and native plants have evolved to know the ins and outs of our climate, making them hardy and low maintenance. This means less human intervention."
To get a list of what's best suited to your specific area, check with your local council for a list.
Fine-tune your water management
Rainfall and water reserves have the potential to go further, if you're not making the most of Mother Nature.
"Start by collecting as much as possible in a rainwater tank so you can keep it for dry times," suggests Charlie.
He also suggests planting species with similar water requirements together, so you’re not over or under-watering. "If you have an automated irrigation system, fit it with a rain sensor so you’re not wasting water when it’s not needed," he says.
Did you know that certain plants have complementary or protective qualities that can help your garden thrive?
"In the veggie patch, it’s as simple as planting marigolds near your edibles, which lure aphids away from your plants. Tomatoes and basil are another great duo. Not only do they taste great on a plate, but they also grow well together and help keep each other in prime health," says Charlie.
This clever strategy is adopted even with commercial growing, as coffee plants are sheltered and protected with native plants as part of Nespresso’s Reviving Origins program.
"Mulch is amazing for your garden. It helps slow water absorption into the soil, making it more effective," says Charlie.
"It keeps water locked in the ground by slowing evaporation, and even breaks down to help feed your plants. Using the right mulch can significantly increase your garden’s ability to retain nutrients, fend off weeds and avoid disease, too," he explains.
Donating surplus produce from your garden
If you've got a veggie patch, why not try swapping produce, plants and excess compost with friends or neighbours?
"It's a great way to share your love of gardening, taste what your neighbours are growing and build a sense of community. It also helps cut down on waste and aging produce, and you’ll be surprised how quickly others pick up on your sustainable habits," says Charlie