Of course growing your own food is in itself environmentally friendly. Food from a backyard garden uses significantly less fossil fuels than produce from the grocery store. It’s not kept refrigerated for days or shipped halfway around the world.
Backyard gardens still have there own impact though. Through growing food humans are impacting the environment. It doesn’t have to be a bad impact though. You can make your garden a benefit for the environment and species around you.
Install a rain barrel.
If you live somewhere that they’re legal a rain barrel can be a great addition to your garden. You can use water that would otherwise run into the ground.
Grow a pollinator garden.
Pollinator’s numbers are dwindling. They’re losing habitat and being killed by pesticides. You can help make life a little easier on them and encourage them to pollinate your plants by planting a pollinator garden with our handy guide.
Composting is easy and not as smelly as you’d think. You also don’t have to purchase a fancy bin. You can do something simple like a bin made of pallets or even no bin at all. Mother Earth News has a great article on composting here.
Use natural garden amendments.
Even certified organic chemical fertilizers and amendments are far from perfect. Using them can lead to excessive nutrient run-off causing algae blooms in nearby creeks. Natural fertilizers like compost, plant materials, and wood ash are better alternatives. Check out more options here.
Use grey water.
Grey water is water thats been used in your sink or shower. In some places it’s legal to route this water to your garden rather than your septic tank and use this water to water fruit trees and bushes.
Grow cover crops.
Cover crops add nutrients to the soil without the risk of over fertilizing. They also add habitat for beneficial insects and microbes and prevent soil erosion.
Make your garden water efficient.
There’s a variety of methods to do this including adding swales, berms, and terraces to hold water. It’s also good to use drip irrigation rather than overhead which can evaporate.
Gardens don’t actually need to be tilled if they’re managed properly. No-till gardening is actually better for soil health and uses no fuel like running a rototiller would!
I talk about mulch all the time but it’s super important. As far as keeping your garden as eco-friendly as possible, mulch helps to hold in moisture, lessening the need for watering and helps prevent soil erosion. It also adds habitat for beneficial insects.
Add habitats for pollinators and beneficial insects.
The addition of pollinator and beneficial insect habitats can be great for your garden and them. You can find a lot of free plans on the internet for houses for beneficial creatures like birds, bats, toads, and insects. Many birds also appreciate a variety of different height plants to land on in the garden while birds and beneficial insects will utilize plant material left standing through the winter.
Utilize permaculture principles.
An entire book would be needed to explain permaculture but many of its principles can be used to help design a garden that works with nature to produce harvests without the need for large water or nutrient inputs. If you want an eco-friendly garden researching permaculture can help get you there.
All of our actions impact the world around us. Backyard gardens minimize some of the negative impacts that are found in our current food system but as growers we can choose to take that a step further and make our gardens as eco-friendly as possible.