Help save the planet in 10 easy steps

By following a few simple gardening practices, you can create a beautiful, eco-friendly garden…and do your bit for the environment.

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How can your garden contribute to the conservation of our environment? Easy. Life is a garden, and as a gardener, you are in an ideal position to help preserve our natural ecosystem by practising a few simple gardening techniques in your patch of earth. So, get your hands dirty and help to create a healthy environment while contributing towards the growing movement to curb climate change. The following steps will ensure that you are a friend, rather than a foe, of the environment:

Step 1: Enrich your soil

A true eco-friendly garden has a good soil enriched with plenty of compost or decomposed manure. This ensures that the soil retains more water, that plants have sufficient nutrients, and it provides food for beneficial soil micro-organisms. Healthy soil means healthy plants which are more able to resist pests and diseases, therefore negating the need for you to use sprays.

Step 2: Go organic

Use eco-friendly products, such as organic insecticide sprays and fertilisers, in your gardens. Only use chemical pesticides when there is a large infestation, and only spray the infected plants. Try to maintain the natural balance in your garden between predators and prey – by killing everything you will drive away not only the pests, but also the beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and spiders, that feed upon those pests.

Step 3: Encourage biodiversity

Try to provide habitats for a wide range of wildlife. Proved drinking water in the form of a birdbath or small pond, which will attract a variety of birds, frogs and insects. You can even make it larger by creating a bog garden, which will attract a wider range of animal life.

Food can be provided in the form of indigenous plants that supply berries, seeds or nectar.  For nectar, plant Cape honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis), proteas and the tree fuchsia (Halleria lucida); for berries plant the dune current (Allophylus natalensis); and for seeds plant grasses such as the broad-leaf bristle grass (Setaria megaphylla).

TecomacapensisRed001Step 4: Control invasive plants

Our natural ecosystem is under threat from plants which have been brought in from foreign countries. These plants now threaten take over our natural indigenous vegetation. Get to know those plants that have been declared alien invaders in your region and remove them or refrain from planting them.

Step 5: Consider your climate

Plant only those species that will thrive in your climate. By filling your garden with indigenous plants that are local to your area, you will be able to cut down on watering and maintenance as they are equipped to deal with local weather patterns. The white milkwood (Sideroxylon inerme) and the white ironwood (Vepris lanceolata) and wild olive (Oleo europaea subsp. africana) will all do well in Eastern Cape area.

Step 6: Mulch

Mulch keeps the soil temperature constant, shielding plants from temperature extremes, and it helps to retain moisture in the soil.

Step 7: Create a compost heap

Convert all your kitchen waste and garden clippings into re-useable organic compost. This will help you to enrich your soil, and reduce the amount of waste lying in our landfill sites.

Step 8: See the light

Save energy by using solar powered lights in your garden. There is a wide range of attractive options now available.

MixedOrnamentalPlants055Step 9: Conserve water

Save water by turning off your irrigation system when it rains, or by fitting a water wise drip irrigation system, which directs water directly to the plants’ roots. Avoid irrigating on windy days or in the midday heat to curb water loss via evaporation.

Step 10: Harvest your water

Consider installing a rainwater tank to capture water. Alternatively, channel water from downpipes, swimming pools, pathways and driveways directly to where it is needed. You can do this by angling the paving to slope so that rainwater flows into adjoining beds, by constructing swales (mini humps) to redirect rain water to where you want it to go, or by creating gaps in the curbing at selected spots to allow water to run into the garden.

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