What can I do to be more efficient in the garden?
Being eco-friendly is not something that should only be confined to the home. If you're lucky enough to have a garden, then it could be in your best interests to take a more sustainable approach to keeping it maintained.
After all, avid gardeners tend to use large quantities of time, effort and water keeping their plots looking great - and the fact is it could be running up your bills. Taking a new approach to your garden can make all the difference and some of the changes might not be as difficult to implement as you may think.
Here are some ideas to make your outdoor space as energy efficient as possible, no matter how big or small it might be.
Creating a compost heap is great if you like the idea of an organic lifestyle. Simply pile up your vegetable peelings and other matter and let it create some nutrition for your garden.
You don't even have to worry about leaving it exposed, as there are all sorts of composting bins available. Think about how many trips to the garden centre you'll save yourself - and not to mention lugging those heavy bags of pre-packed compost around!
Plant wind-blocking trees
If your property is in an area that's particularly exposed, you could benefit from planting some wind-blocking trees. These will help protect your home from the elements and offer shade when the summer months come around.
You should find you don't need to rely on the air conditioning quite so much once the shaded trees become more established, which in turn should bring down your electricity bills.
Watering the garden can be costly, especially during the summer when it needs more moisture than usual. One way to cut down on the amount of water you use is to invest in a water butt - it connects to your drainpipe and collects rain.
The water will be ideal for keeping your plants moist and you might even find it comes in useful for other tasks such as washing the car. Best of all, it's free!
Do away with the lawn
Spending time mowing the lawn each week isn't at the top of most people's list of priorities, which is why you may want to consider getting rid of it entirely. Lawn mowers are also big consumers of electricity, so this can also bring cost benefits.
The great news is there are so many different, low maintenance options available. Decorative gravel and paving slabs are one option, or you might want to think about wood chips and decking. The choice is yours!
Plant straight into the ground
While pots and planters can look great in the garden, they'll need a lot more looking after than the plants that you put straight into the ground. They can draw natural moisture from the soil and don't require quite so much water.
If you're being eco-conscious then maybe limit your use of planters, hanging baskets and any other containers. Your pocket will thank you for it in the long run!
Grow your own
The grow your own trend has gathered pace over recent years - and for good reason. Having your own produce in the garden minimises how much you rely on shops and gives a real sense of pride.
It doesn't matter how small your garden is, there's always something that you can try growing. Herbs are perfect in more compact gardens, but if you've got the room for beds, think about trying potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables.
Posted by Jeremy Elliott