You can save resources, encourage diversity, and enjoy a beautiful garden too. The winter planning stage is a great time to consider ways to improve your garden this year. So follow these 5 steps to a greener garden!
Kick the chemical habit.
Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are expensive, run off into our water supply, reduce biodiversity, and encourage wussy plants.
- What to do: Take any leftover synthetic fertilizers or pesticides to the next Tox Drop, and resolve to use organic methods to create a resilient garden. If you currently have a lawn service, ask about switching to an organic system, or consider changing to a mixed-species play lawn.
Build soil with regular applications of compost and mulch.
Soil enriched with compost holds water better and makes more nutrients available to plants. Organic mulch helps slow moisture evaporation, reduces weed pressure, and breaks down to improve the soil’s structure.
- What to do: In spring, add a couple of inches of compost to your garden beds and spread them with a rake. If you haven’t already, start a compost pile.
- What to do: Once the soil warms (in May in Indiana), add 2″ to 4″ of mulch—hardwood mulch, chopped-up leaves, or straw—to your garden beds.
Put the right plant in the right place.
Stressed-out plants are more likely to suffer from disease and pests. So choose plants that are appropriate for your space’s sun exposure, soil type, and moisture level.
- What to do: Watch your plants this year for signs of stress, and don’t be shy about digging up and moving plants that might do better elsewhere.
Use water wisely.
The average garden needs 1″ of water a week—and that includes the lawn. Plants will tell you if they need water by wilting.
- What to do: Water only when necessary, and then water deeply and irregularly.
A robust garden has a wide variety of plants that welcome microbes, insects, birds, reptiles, and small mammals. If a big enough population of insects starts munching on your plants, something else will move in to start munching on them.
- What to do: Don’t panic over signs that insects are eating in your garden. Most of them are either harmless or even beneficial, pollinating your plants. Leave a little brush pile in a corner of the garden to provide cover for wildlife.
These easy first steps can help you create an organic oasis. So this year, make your garden greener!