What are Green Gardens and How can you Grow one?
Green gardens. Since, like the rest of us, you’re ultra-connected to social media, you have most likely already heard of this idea. But you’re probably wondering what it refers to. Is it a grammar mistake, like a tautology or a fault in style? After all, aren’t all gardens green? Or is there more to the concept of green gardens? Like green living or going green? Now we’re onto something!
Going back to social media, you’ve probably also noticed that there had been a spike in trends recently when it comes to gardening and everything relating to it. Celebrities everywhere are posting on Instagram how much they love their backyards, and some, like Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon are even growing their own vegetables.
The gardening retail market has now grown to over $6bn per year while searches on Pinterest and Instagram have gone up by factors between 50% and 90% for topics like ‘cactus’ or ‘indoor plants’ according to airtasker.com.
So we are, without a doubt, living in the age of gardening. But there’s a catch. This isn’t your grandma’s gardening with potting plants and little carnations planted in plastic containers. Welcome to the world of green gardens! Modern gardeners have woken up to the need for a new type of green, the one that doesn’t take a toll on the environment.
But it’s more than that. It is, in fact, a win-win situation. Where people get to convert their backyards into very appealing and relaxing small oases in the middle of a bustling city, but at the same time, they also sustain and protect nature instead of invading it with harsh chemicals. Here is all you need to know about green gardens!
What Are Green Gardens?
The idea or rather the term in itself of ‘green gardens’ is somewhat new. It hasn’t been around for a very long time, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t already made an impact. It’s very hashtag-worthy, isn’t it? That’s a joke, obviously, but on a more serious note, the term ‘green gardens’ started to appear about the same time as the green movement came into being as well.
The green movement, or the environmental movement, not to be confused with all the political ones that have happened across history under the same name is involved with creating the first Earth Day, as well as the EPA. Today, the movement fights for righteous causes such as climate change, global warming, preserving the wetlands, depleting fisheries, species of animals that are going extinct and so on. So you can see how it is closely related to green gardens. So let’s get back to our main topic of interest.
Even though many traditional gardeners have long neglected the correct ways of treating their patches of soil as well as their plants, flowers, and produce, it is clear their practices have a huge impact on the environment. And not a favorable one.
As a matter of fact, it doesn’t matter how big or small your garden or backyard is. If it has not been worked or planted in a correct fashion, it will lead to erosion, not to mention the pollution caused by the fertilizer you use. Pesticides are extremely dangerous and can harm the plants you use them on, the animals in their vicinity as well as yourself. You inhale those pesticides and then eat the vegetables and fruits you sprayed them on.
But pesticides do a lot more than that. The chemicals they contain slowly seep into the ground and water bed below from where they are almost impossible to remove. As they find themselves in the subterranean flow of water, they will make their way to the nearest river and then into the sea. You might think a little pesticide you used on a few roses doesn’t mean that much compared to how much water there is in the sea. But imagine everyone you know is doing the same thing and using the same chemicals as you are. And they do. It all ends up in the water and soil.
So what it the solution? Green gardens, of course! But how can you grow a green garden?
How to Grow a Green Garden?
The idea behind green gardens is that they should always try and minimize whatever impact you and your plants have on the environment. Therefore, the secret to a green garden is keeping things simple, going back to the basics, and not disturbing nature. Don’t worry; you’ll understand what we mean in a minute thanks to the ideas we have laid out for you below!
1. Only use natural compost
As we’ve already mentioned above, one of the most disruptive things for the environment is gardeners using chemicals. You may have actually already heard about it because pesticides, as well as weed killers, have been a much-debated topic in the past few years.
Many gardeners have had the opportunity to learn just how harmful they are for the soil, for water, animals, and humans alike. But also that chemicals and pesticides won’t nourish your garden as well as they should.
Compost or fertilization of the soil is no different, for that matter. If you want to join the green gardens movement, you need to use homemade or natural compost. There are lots of ways in which you can go for natural compost, but the traditional one is typically a mix of green waste, and food scraps from your kitchen. You can also add some animal waste such as manure if you want and can get it, but it’s not compulsory, especially if you live in the city. This is primarily a measure rural farmers apply.
But natural compost also comes in the shape of using black soldier flies, worms or bokashi. However, once again, please remember that you live in a city and there are regulations to comply with!
2. Recycling water is very important
We have a hunch that the true gardener in you will love this idea! So not only is it a fantastic tip for turning your backyard into a veritable green garden, but it will also make your gardening days a whole lot easier.
Recycling or conserving water is the key to helping the environment. It’s also a cool trick for you because you won’t have to wait for it to rain to irrigate or waste a lot of water and, therefore, upto your water bill.
Therefore, what you can do is put in a catchment system that will collect rainwater which you can use later on when you actually need it. An alternative would be installing a greywater system that collects the clean water in your household for the same purposes. Basically, it’s all the clean water that surrounds you which would otherwise go to waste, at your disposal. No need to watch for rain clouds or lean on tap water and spend money needlessly.
3. Install bird feeders
We know what you’re thinking. How could bird feeders help me turn my traditional backyard into a green garden? It’s just a little container with seeds in it. And you’re right! But there’s actually a little more to bird feeders than that.
Here’s the catch. One single bird feeder won’t make a difference. But installing several will make sure you attract enough birds to your green gardens. They will act as natural predators and catch the pests that bother the plants and flowers in your garden. Think about slugs, snails, bugs, and other creepy crawlers that otherwise you would have to dispose of using chemicals.
So install several bird feeders in your garden in several key places, including next to your garden shed if you have one. And simply let the birds work their magic!
4. Don’t disregard the quality of your soil
We’ll let you in on a little secret. Many home gardeners are tempted to make the same simple mistake. They go online or to dedicated gardening shops and buy the best type of soil they can find, thinking this is the best way to go. But this is, in fact, the wrong thing to do.
The first thing you need to do as far as green gardens are concerned is to find out exactly what type of soil you have in your backyard. It could be sandy and acidic, loamy, chalky soil, peat soil, clay soil, sandy soil or silt soil. This will tell you how you need to work it, what you need to add to it, and what types of plants will work best with your particular kind of the earth.
The second thing on the list would be to focus on fertilization and compost, as we’ve already mentioned above. The more compost you dig into your soil, the higher its quality will be and the better your plants, flowers or vegetables will grow. But don’t forget that green gardens require only natural compost!
5. Go for permeable paving
Let’s go back to the subject of water for a minute. But this time, let’s look at it from the perspective of all the concrete you have in your backyard. And we know you do because you most likely live in the city and both your house and garden are subject to all sorts of rules and regulations that mention you need to pave your driveway at least. Or you might have a patio built entirely of concrete around your house or garden shed.
But this leads to a particular type of problem. The more concrete you have in your garden or backyard, the more flooding you could be facing. As you water your green gardens, all that water won’t permeate the concrete areas. Instead, it will run off alongside it until it can find a surface where it can permeate the ground. However, most of the times, this amounts to flooding surrounding areas.
So is the solution not using concrete anymore? Not at all! Instead, you can opt for permeable paving that will allow all the water you use to soak through and, thus eliminate any risks of flooding.
6. Vertical gardens for limited space
One trend you might have seen blooming more and more, pun intended, is vertical gardens. And not just in one place. A simple search will show you that giant cities the likes of London, Paris, New York, and Cairo have surrendered to the lush beauty of walls on which green gardens are being grown by savvy hands.
The residents of all these metropolises are happy to be enjoying the fantastic design that comes with such a wonderful idea. But there’s more to a vertical garden than that. Living walls are also there to clean the air in a simple but greenway. As long as your vertical gardens are planted and kept going without pesticides and chemicals, they will help purify the air in your garden in a greenway.
So you can start your own vertical garden using boxes, racks, and even bottles. As long as they’re not plastic ones, of course! Use the wall of your garden room both to embellish it and give it a creative its vibe.
7. Choose the right plants for your green gardens
Now that you’ve sorted out the soil, water concerns as well as the concrete portions of your garden, it’s time to choose some actual plants. But you need to make the proper choices here because the green gardens movement has a word to say in this as well.
To put it as simple as possible, there are some plants that are easier on the environment when cultivated. Therefore, if you do get to choose, why not make a simple and safe choice? As a matter of fact, growing the appropriate plants is so crucial that it might be the most important thing you do for your green gardens.
Let’s look at it this way. When it comes to a modern, environmentally friendly garden, the plants you grow don’t necessarily have to be just aesthetically pleasing. They can have multiple purposes. For example, they can serve as shelter for different species of wildlife such as birds or protected insects like bees. They can also provide food for the same insects, namely bees. In this way, you can do so much more than just plant a stereotypical row of flowers!
A perfect example of this is ivy. Apart from growing so beautifully and decorating the side of your house or garden shed, it is also a fantastic source of nectar. Birds and bees are drawn to it, especially during autumn and winter when most other flowers are not in bloom to provide food for them. Environmentally friendly goal achieved!
Other examples include lavender, foxglove, geraniums, wisteria, allium, hollyhock, cotoneaster, and lambs ears. They serve the same purpose of feeding birds and bees. You can also plant aloe vera, peace lily, weeping fig, reed palm, spider plants, and English Ivy. They will help purify the air.
8. Companion planting is your friend
Let’s talk about plants a little more. This is a great way to build a healthy green garden that doesn’t take too much time or work. Companion planting is the idea of growing certain plants in the same space because they go well together, and they can help each other thrive. Apart from that, their synergistic effects work wonders on the ecosystem in the sense that companion planting helps with soil health, offers the plants the natural protection they need, and keeps them healthy in a completely organic way.
Thus being said, what plants should you partner up in your green gardens? We have some examples, of course! Always pair roses and garlic. We know, it seems improbable to grow the king of flowers next to the smelliest of plants. But they actually go together like you wouldn’t believe! The reason is that garlic bulbs will repel nasty pests away from the roses. In this way, you don’t have to spray them with chemicals.
Pair marigolds and melons. This actually sounds like a match made in fragrance heaven, and just the wording alone makes you think of golden summers. But, in fact, marigolds will control the nematodes you can find in melon roots so you won’t have to treat them chemically.
Pair lettuce with Nicotiana or Cleome. The reason is that both the tobacco flower and the spider flower are tall enough to provide all the shade lettuce needs. Plant collards and catnip in the same place because the latter repels flea-beetles as well as mosquitoes.
9. All your garden tools have to be energy efficient
Planting and growing a green garden also means choosing the right equipment to care for it. For example, if you have a lawnmower that works on gas, it is probably not very environmentally friendly. The fuel will emit gases into the atmosphere that defeat the purpose of having a green garden, to begin with. If you absolutely need a lawn mower, try one that is powered electrically. But we suggest you switch to manual work altogether.
Working with hand tools is perfect for many reasons. First of all, you can be sure you are completely safe and not putting more chemicals into the environment. Second of all, working with your hands allows you to touch your flowers and plants and get a good feel of what your garden really needs. And thirdly, you’ll get a fantastic workout.
As you might have assessed for yourself after going through this piece, green gardens are, in fact, quite easy both to plant and to keep. It doesn’t really matter if all you have is a tiny patch of backyard between two houses in a crowded city or tens of acres on a farm. The green garden principles are still the same – caring for nature, plants, and flowers, and understanding that whatever we choose to put in the earth and water will eventually make its way back to us.
About the author: Gerald Holstein is a freelance writer on topics related to gardening and summer houses. He has also written books on meditation and other spiritual topics. He lives in Thailand, where he operates a vegan-organic garden and works on establishing western true-to-seed varieties into the tropical climate.