A sustainable backyard is a typical yard that consists of a sustainable garden, which looks, smells and feels natural without causing any harm to nature. Imagine a yard where you can relax and spend time with family while reducing your impact on the environment and contributing to plant and animal biodiversity. Creating a sustainable backyard garden starts with understanding how to use nature’s resources wisely.
If you’re looking to do some landscaping with less environmental impact, here are some tips for creating a sustainable backyard:
Use water from sustainable sources.
The best and easiest natural resource for your garden is collected rainwater. Install a rain barrel to catch rain water from your gutters and store it for non-rainy days. For big gardens or if you want to water your lawn, you can use the rainwater through a direct drip irrigation system. By installing a drip irrigation system, you can control the slow application of water to your plans and reduce water evaporation and run off. This method also allows you to ‘set it and forget it’ and is the easiest and most eco-friendly way to water your lawn and garden. If you have a small garden, simply collect water from your rain barrel in a watering can and manually water each plant.
Prepare the soil.
Enjoy getting into the dirt? Great! The more you dig up your soil to provide more aeration, the more water, and oxygen it can hold, which is prime for growing things. When adding fertilizer, use organic fertilizer and make your own organic compost from your kitchen and garden waste. Always avoid harmful chemical pesticides and herbicides.
Try vermicomposting. Vermicomposting, or worm composting, is when you use various species of worms to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials and vermicast. Vermicast is what is produced when these organic materials are broken down by worms. The City of Edmonton provides a great resource on vermicomposting including how to build and maintain your vermicomposting bin and what types of worms to use. They also offer a Compost ‘S cool to teach you how to compost and provide you with a worm bin to take home too!
Grow your garden.
When choosing plants and vegetables to grow in your garden, choose plants that attract farm-friends like bees, ladybugs, toads, native birds, and insects. It’s also important to choose plants that suit the physical conditions (like shade, sun, etc.) and your climatic growing zone. A landscaping company can help you choose the right plants for your growing zone or you can check out the Alberta Interactive Plant Hardiness Map to discover what zone you live in.
You can also plant organic fruits and vegetables in your sustainable garden. If you are new to gardening, start with fruits and veggies that are easy to grow and maintain like peas, beans, peppers and tomatoes.