Why create an Eco Garden

Our gardens are our sanctuaries; places where we relax, entertain and create memorise with our loved ones. Yet sometimes the time, effort and resources required maintaining a garden can be overwhelming. Eco gardening is a method of gardening that can negate these problems. An eco garden is beneficial to both the planet and the owner as it uses less water, creates habitats for local fauna and flora, and saves money long-term.

Eco gardening is a sustainable gardening practice that considers the interactions between the plants, soil, water, and the surrounding natural environment.  It requires minimal human interference with chemical or pest controls; instead, the garden can be viewed as a small ecosystem that is self-sufficient and in balanced with nature.

There are a number of elements that can help you grow a thriving eco garden:

How to Create an Eco Garden

Native plants that thrive in the local conditions

Selecting native plant species that are adapted to your local conditions will increase the likelihood of a successful eco garden. When compared to non-native species, native plants save time, money, and an important natural resource: water. In addition, native species provide habitats for local birds and insects, which will benefit the garden.

 

 

 

Companion planting for an Eco Garden

Plant pairing, or companion planting, is the method of growing plants together with the idea that they will benefit from each other’s existence. Some plants located in close proximity to each other improve growth, enhance flavour, attract pollinating insects, discourage pests, and even fix nitrogen levels in the soil.

Eco gardening. Australian yellow kangaroo paw flower (Anigozanthos pulcherrimus) in front of a grasstree

Australian yellow kangaroo paw flower (Anigozanthos pulcherrimus) in front of a grasstree. Both of these Australian native plants thrive in poor well drained soils.

Bird and insect-attracting plants

Encouraging birds and beneficial insects to your eco garden will assist in pollination, pest control, and decomposition of debris. Birds, bees and even some other insects help pollinate flowers – which is particularly important if you are growing fruits and vegetables! Birds also feed on harmful pests like caterpillars, snails and slugs, while insects such as lady beetles can feed upon pests like aphids to keep them below nuisance thresholds.

Eco Gardens Attract Birds

Eco Gardens Attract Birds like this Rainbow Lorikeet.

 

Water management for your eco garden.

Planting a dense garden that is lush and thick with vegetation helps reduce the need for supplementary water. Dense planting shades the area, reducing evaporation, which also helps retain the moisture. Ideally an eco garden shouldn’t require supplementary water; however, during particularly harsh weather periods there may be times that water supplementation is required. To keep in the theme of sustainability, a rainwater tank would be ideal to provide water during these periods.

Nutrients are recycled back into the ecosystem

Flowers, branches, leaves, and other natural debris contain natural chemical elements (including phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium) that are essential for the overall health of the garden ecosystem. Resist the temptation to remove these items to ‘clean up’ the garden appearance. Allowing this garden waste to decompose in the garden will return nutrients back into the soil.

Australian indigenous plants are ideal for your eco garden

Australian indigenous plants are ideal for your eco garden. Cradle Mountain Tasmania, boardwalk at Dove lake with sub-alpine vegetation

Utilise natural fertilisers in your eco garden

If you find that your garden needs a boost, natural fertilisers such as manure, pea straw and lupin mulch are a better alternative to store-bought chemical fertilisers. Worm tea (from worm farms) and compost bins are also useful for turning old food scraps and green waste into a natural fertiliser for your garden. Worm farms and compost bins can be purchased from your local nursery or made at home at a fraction of the cost.

Making Compost for your garden

Compost will make great fertiliser for an eco garden.

Try not to be overwhelmed by all of the above features of an eco garden. It is not necessary for an eco garden to have all of these components. Choose a few elements that you could start implementing this weekend, and slowly expand when you have the capacity. For more information, contact your local plant nursery to help you start in the right place.

The Sustainable Suburban Garden

 

 

 

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More Information on Eco Gardens

 

Growing Green Guide

 

CERES is an environmental education centre, urban farm and social enterprise hub located on Wurundjeri land alongside the Merri Creek in Melbourne.