A sustainable garden is simply a garden that will grow easily without excessive maintenance or added resources. This is just a sensible approach of not being wasteful. It also avoids those disheartening plant deaths. A sustainable garden will give you a healthy and attractive landscape. It will also contribute to a healthier local and global environment.
One of our most precious resources is time. Most of us don’t have a lot to spare. You might love the idea of a beautiful garden but fear the maintenance it might require. A well designed sustainable garden will ensure that it will need little ongoing maintenance once it is established. Plants should be chosen to thrive and behave well without much attention.
The layout of the design should also improve the efficiency of the garden. That includes placements of utility zones including washing lines and bins.
The structures and materials should be long lasting and not require excessive maintenance. You should be spending most of your available time enjoying and using your garden rather than fretting about looking after it.
Choosing plants that are appropriate for the site and conditions will require less water and unnecessary fertilising. Drought tolerant plants with low water requirements will be more resilient in Melbourne’s climate. They could be plants that are indigenous to the locality. They could also be plants from parts of the world with a similar ecology and climate.
Putting some attention into the initial planting is a good investment. Make sure the planting hole has adequate well drained soil. Providing an extra helping of compost and a layer of mulch will help with soil health and to retain moisture and nutrients.
Reusing materials can often be cheaper and will certainly contribute less to landfill. Recycled timber or brick can be very effective in lending some character to a garden. This is especially so if it relates to other aspects of your home or neighbourhood.
Making sure that the structures and materials are sturdy and well made will give them a longer life. This reduces the need to replace and overhaul the garden after a short time. With that sensible foresight, the landscape structure will have a better appearance in the long term.
Considering passive solar design is a tactic that can make your home more comfortable as well as saving on energy bills. Plants are very good at absorbing heat and light, so they’ll provide effective insulation during those hot summer months. Using buffering shrubs against cold southerlies will have a similarly protective effect in winter.
By sourcing materials locally, there is less energy expended in transport and packaging. Using stone, gravels or timber that is sustainably extracted will have have a lower carbon cost. They will also be more appropriate for the site than manufactured materials imported from overseas.
A sustainable garden is not just taking but giving. Urban gardens can contribute to local biodiversity. A variety of plants can provide food and habitat for local native birds and other creatures. Introducing some natural wildlife also helps to bring in a healthy ecosystem in your garden. A good mix of garden predators will mean a reduced need to control pests with sprays. If planned well there should be no need for chemical insecticides and herbicides at all.
Growing your own food is another way that your garden can give. This shortcuts the chain of production of commercially grown and processed food. Produce from the supermarket has to endure many indignities before it gets to your plate. Fresh food from the garden tastes better and you control what is done to it.
Perhaps the greatest contribution of a sustainable garden is how it contributes to your well being. A well designed garden will improve the physical aspect of your home through shade and shelter. It will also provide mental and emotional benefits. The garden will contribute to your own mental sustainability by providing you with your own green sanctuary. It can be your own healing slice of paradise that will sustain you through the day.
All these sustainability principles don’t mean that your garden has to compromise on how wonderful is looks. If well designed, it can be as stylish, stimulating, relaxing or as functional as you like. A successful garden is not only sustainable but one that you will enjoy living in.