Not everyone is lucky enough to have one, but if you do your garden can be an extension of your home, a productive powerhouse for nurturing fruit or veg, a place where your kids can burn off some of their endless energy, or perhaps a sanctuary for you to escape some of their energy 😁
However you use your garden, there are things you can do in and with it to reduce your impact on the environment, and to help you do more using less. Here are our top ten:
1. Collect rain water and use it wisely
With water shortages and their associated hosepipe bans effecting more and more areas of the UK more and more often, most gardeners will already have some form of rain water capture in place to help keep their lawn and plants hydrated in the summer months.
But do you know how to maximise your use of captured water?
The RHS recommend watering plants between 05:00 and 09:00 in the morning to provide the drink they'll need as the sun comes up, while minimising loss through evaporation.
They also suggest ways of reducing how much water you need to use and how to plan your garden to minimise water waste. Well worth a read.
2. Let it go wild
A traditional, perfectly manicured, picture-box garden may look neat and tidy, but it's not a great environment for encouraging a diversity of wildlife.
Let part of your garden over grow a little to provide a haven for insects and invertebrates that will increase the bio-diversity in your green space. Their presence will encourage more predators to visit your garden, ultimately helping you control the less welcome visitors like green fly and slugs...
Dedicate part of your space to a "wild flower meadow" and you'll not only have a haven for wildlife and a nice "feature" to look at, you'll also have less mowing and maintenance to do, freeing up some time to enjoy your garden more.
Another related tip: in early spring leaving things like the first dandelions to flower will provide much needed food for bees who are short of options that time of year.
3. Plant complementary trees, shrubs, fruit, veg and flowers
Not all plants are born equal. Some get on with each other better than others.
When planning your garden, or pot, etc, combine different varieties that complement each other.
Add plants that will attract "good" insects like ladybirds amongst those that can fall victim to "bad" insects like green fly. They'll help you out by eating the bad bugs.
Consider planting sacrificial plants to save others... parsnips are a favourite of black fly, so planting one or two near a runner bean you'd like to protect can help distract black fly and save the beans.
If you're growing your own consider joining the Farm45 community who are sharing knowledge about growing complementary foods in a way that maintains biodiversity, regenerates the soil and improves your plant's productivity.
4. Make homes for others too
Like leaving some over grown space as a haven for wildlife, providing a home for other animals and creatures will benefit your garden.
Bird boxes will encourage our feathered friends into your garden, who will in tern eat many of the pests you'd like to keep out.
Bug hotels are popular with kids and will help bees and other "good" insects and bugs into your garden.
If you have a pond, however small, providing a frog house will encourage the hoppers to move in. They love to eat slugs and snails. One fully grown adult frog will eat enough slugs to keep a small to medium sized garden slug free. Save money and the environment by ditching the pellets and letting a frog move in.
5. Save those shells to keep the slugs and snails away
Speaking of more environmentally friendly, cheaper alternatives to using slug and snail pellets; did you know that you can use crushed up egg shells or seashells to deter the slimy pests?
Make sure they're clean, break them up into little finger nail sized pieces and scatter to form a protective ring around your favourite flowers or fruits, etc.
Shells also help keep your soil moist, stop it clumping after rain and add nutrients to the soil.
Do more. Use less.
6. Ditch the lawn, go for an alternative, more interesting green carpet
Lawn's were originally a sign of wealth; "look at how much money I have, enough to have this large lawned area of land that's totally unproductive..."
Today lawns are being replaced with driveways and astroturf. But there are better, more environmentally friendly and more interesting alternatives to a grassy expanse.
Try a chamomile carpet. They require a moist soil and a sunny position, but once established provide a sweet, fruity fragrance when walked or sat on. The leaves will compress, but recover well.
For those with a drier garden try planting a mass of sedum. They are drought tolerant and frost hardy. And they don't need trimming or mowing...
Do more. Use less.
7. Plant out front too
For many a front garden is a thing of the past now, replaced by a tarmac or concrete driveway.
But did you know that having hedging, trees and other plants in front of your property can reduce the amount of pollution and dirt that makes its way into your home? Especially if you live on a particularly busy road.
The greenery helps clean the air and capture pollution before it makes it to your door or windows.
For those who have to park out front, consider replacing tarmac and concrete with a "grass paver" or similar. This is a porous material that will support the weight of a vehicle while allowing grass (or other carpet plants, see above...) grow through.
As well as "greening" your drive, having a porous space in front of your house will help reduce run off water, reducing strain on drains and reducing the risk of flooding.
8. Dig a hole, bury your kitchen waste
Many gardens have a once loved, now forgotten compost bin somewhere out of sight of the house. Putting your lawn cuttings, hedge trimmings and kitchen waste in them is a good way of making usable mulch and compost for the future.
You can speed up the process a bit, and ditch the bin by digging a hole in one of our growing beds and putting your organic waste in the hole to be buried. Rotating where the hole is in a bed will help keep your soil fertile.
Don't do this in an area that has a rat problem though, you'll potentially be inviting them to nest in your garden by providing a regular food source...
9. Borrow, don't buy
How often do you need to mow your lawn? Or trim your hedges?
If you have a fairly low maintenance garden owning tools and equipment that you hardly ever use it wasteful. It's expensive. They require space to store and can be time consuming to maintain.
So instead of buying, why not borrow or rent the equipment only when you need it?
More and more "share and repair" and "library of things" groups are opening up across the country. They allow you to borrow gardening tools and equipment (as well as other items) for a small fee only when you need them. You can donate items you don't need or use too.
If you're local to us in Bath, find the Bath library of things here.
10. Compost your Tidy Solid Shampoo bar wrapper 😉
Last, but not least (we had to mention solid shampoo at some point right!) compost your Tidy solid shampoo bar wrapper.
We wrap our men's solid shampoo bars in coffee filter paper that's made from recycled materials. It's 100% biodegradable and can be put in your food caddy for collection by your local council, or added to your own composting solution (see above).
The labels that are on the wrapper are made from environmentally friendly paper and inks with non-toxic glue too, so they can also be added to your compost if you'd like. Or they can be removed and put in with your paper recycling if you'd prefer.
Either way, there's no need to put any of our shampoo bar's packaging in the bin for landfill and if you compost them they'll get a second use in your garden in the future.
Do more. Use less.
There are many other ways of doing more, using less in the garden while lowering your environmental impact. What are your favourite tips that we didn't share? Add them in the comments, we'd love to hear them!