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Sustainable Gardens

The design of sustainable gardens is more than just the inclusion of a vegetable garden, rain water tank or worm farm although all are worthy elements in any sustainable garden.

Planning and design is the glue that binds all the elements of a sustainable garden together to work in harmony with each other.

Sustainable Garden Design
“Sustainable garden design requires a holistic approach to selection of construction materials, to ensure several key performance criteria are met.”

Sustainable gardens need to be responsive to the constraints of the site. Considerations such as the placement of deciduous trees, shrubs or climbers to the north west aspect, will assist with passive solar design.

Also consider and incorporate your lands:

  1. aspect,
  2. slope,
  3. soil type,
  4. microclimates,
  5. rainfall, and
  6. existing features such as your home and your neighbours home, existing trees and fences.

Similarly sustainable design will functionally integrate all elements of the garden so that each element will have more than one purpose. Ideas such as screening hedges made from fruiting plants like mandarins or clumping bamboo which can be used for stakes. This can also be said for structural landscape elements such as retaining walls, trellises, raised garden beds .

Happy plants are healthy plants and just like us when plants get stressed they are more likely to get ill. The best way to keep plants from getting stressed is by selecting them for their suitability to thrive within the available growing environment. By doing this you won’t need to irrigate, fertilise or spray for pests.

Keeping plants stress free is easy if you keep your soil healthy – healthy soil means healthy plants. Healthy soil is organic, friable and does not have extreme fluctuations of temperature or moisture. Soil is made of living and there are millions if not billions of tiny organisms (bacteria, protozoa, nematodes, fungus and fungal hyphae) in your soil called micro flora.

Healthy garden soil
“Keep your soil healthy by creating a good environment for your soil micro flora by not using chemical fertilisers or pesticides and mulching regularly with well composted plant material.”

Keep your soil healthy by creating a good environment for your soil micro flora by not using chemical fertilisers or pesticides and mulching regularly with well composted plant material.

Sustainable garden design requires a holistic approach to selection of construction materials, to ensure several key performance criteria are met.

Considerations such as:

  1. The chemical treatment or composition to avoid off gassing and or harmful exudates like arsenic for example. (Do you need a gas mask to install it?)

  2. The method of construction required and whether deconstruction for recycling or up cycling will be possible in the future. (Will the material have value even once it is used?)

  3. The source of the material if it is locally sourced it will take less fuel to transport it to site. Or in the case of timber if it has been sourced from sustainably managed forests as certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council.. (Is there a greater cost to the environment from sourcing this material that what you paid for it?)

Can you use a recycled or up cycled resource in place of a new material. Recycled or Up Cycled materials generally have embodied energy, patina and can add character to landscapes.

Mostly sustainable gardening is about working smarter not harder by using natural systems to work for you and last and most importantly having more time to enjoy your garden than working in it!