More than £16bn was spend on gardens in the UK last year, and surely, what could be greener than gardening? You may be surprised. Modern day gardening practices can have a sizeable carbon footprint, such as using synthetic fertilisers than contaminate natural soil reserves, excessive plastic consumption and destruction of peat bogs for compost. A keen gardener herself, Kate shares her advice on how turning to eco-friendly gardening can save you money.
Ditch the garden centre for plants
It’s so easy to nip to the garden centre for one small thing, and come away having spent a lot of money on plants – and the average household in England spends over £150 in garden centres a year (Statista.com). However, garden centres can rely heavily on peat compost and of course lots of plastic pots! Instead save your money by buying them cheaper at local plant sales or even better, sourcing your plants for free.
Make your own compost
A council garden waste removal wheelie bin costs nearly £50 a year. Rather than paying for it to be disposed, use your garden waste along with compostable food waste to make your own compost or donate it to a community compost scheme. You’ll save money on the waste removal bin AND on buying compost from the garden centre. You can make your own compost bin or buy a dedicated compost bin like this Green Johanna. But don’t buy it from a shop, go onto your local council Great Green Systems and pop in your postcode for a drastically reduced price compost system. Here’s Kate's guide to composting if you would like more details on how to do it.
Swap shop bought fertiliser for homemade
It comes in a hard to recycle plastic bottle or tub, and many chemical plant fertilisers contain an excess of nitrogen which contaminate the soil. Instead, for a free plant food collect your vegetable cooking water – just let it cool first! There’s also plenty of natural low cost plant fertiliser you can make at home. Use used teabags or loose leaf tea to feed your garden with the acidic tannins of caffeinated tea and rejuvenate plants (especially roses and ferns) by breaking open used tea bags and sprinkling the contents over the soil below the plant. And banana skin plant food will add potassium and other nutrients to outdoor and indoor plants.
Install a water butt to your home or shed guttering, save money on your water meter and using fresh rainwater is better for your garden, especially for acid loving plants like camellias, the rainwater will bring more blooms. A water butt collects water from rainfall, reducing the amount you have to use from the mains supply. You could also use the water to wash cars or windows. To create a system you only need some guttering, a down pipe and a water butt- you can even set it up along a fence if you don’t have shed, or don't want to tap into your home guttering. Useful at allotments and right down the end of a long garden!
So many super easy ways you can make your own with next to no effort. Bamboo toothbrush handles, wooden ice lolly sticks, twigs from the garden (carefully use a knife to remove some bark and write on the exposed wood with a marker pen or pencil), wood offcuts, pebbles, bamboo canes, broken plant pots, repurposed wine corks, broken wooden pegs, even old plastic lateral flow tests! Use egg boxes as seed trays - biodegradable and save money on plastic seed trays Make plant pots from waste paper. Start seeds in plastic yoghurt pots or even stand up loo roll holders or kitchen roll holders if you use it. Cut them into two inch high cylinders and place on a flat surface before filling to quarter inch below the top and pop in your seed.
Borrow garden tools, rather than buy
Don’t visit the garden centre for tools! Check out all avenues first, free ads, swap shops, library of things! Your garden doesn’t care if it’s new and you will save tools from landfill.
For more tips on how to save money with sustainable changes, check out our Green Guide to Saving Money + the Planet