Make Your Outdoors More Sustainable

Your garden should be a place of beauty and peace. Yet this tranquility can have a negative effect on the sustainability and biodiversity of our earth. The removal of vegetation from our gardens, the use of pesticides and the introduction of pests and weeds are some elements that are undermining our environment.

Gardens are wonderful places to set up play areas for kids and entertain guests in the summer. They should be a place where nature thrives and develops so that you can enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of your environment.

The following tips outline some of the simple things you can do to make your own backyard an oasis – a safe place where you and your family and friends can relax and enjoy each other's company.

Energy saving efforts: Avoid using patio heaters, as these produce enormous amounts of CO2. If you must use one, try an Infrared Heater which uses much less power.

Use solar powered lights to brighten your garden at night. 

Reduce the use of electrical equipment like leaf-blowers – they consume too much energy.

Choose sustainable materials: If you want to add a wooden deck, you could use reclaimed wood, bamboo or cork, all of which are eco-friendly and stylish. Other sustainable materials include natural stone, brick, recycled plastic, rubber and permeable concrete that can be used for paving.

Recycle and upcycle: Recycle your old items. For example, if you have several old chairs, you could repurpose them and transform them into an outdoor bench.

Encourage wildlife to your garden:  Put up a bird box, plant a native Irish tree such as oak, rowan or birch; it will support more native plants, birds, animals and insects.

Don’t feel bad about not weeding or feeding your lawn as reducing the use of pesticides and fertilisers is better for biodiversity. 

Do not use slug pellets - these will not only kill slugs, they will also kill the birds who feed on slugs. You can set beer traps, use copper matting under plants or sharp grit and egg shells around vulnerable species.

Use mulch as it suppresses weed growth, protects the soil from drying, provides frost protection, prevents water logging, preserves nutrients from leaching and adds nutrients to the soil. Some commonly used mulches include grass mowings, wood shavings, cardboard, and gravel.

Grow: plant an organic ‘edible’ garden to feed your family. There are over 80,000 edible plants yet we rely on only 30 to supply over 95% of our nutritional needs. You can do your bit for biodiversity if you consider growing some alternative food plants.Use plants to screen out eye-sores and to provide shade from winds or the summer sun.

When choosing plants or crops for your outdoor space, stick to native species to reduce the negative effects of transportation on the environment and lower your water consumption (native plants typically require less water).

Create shade: Excessive sun exposure affects the durability of your outdoor furniture and upholstery. However, more importantly it can also cause serious health problems due to UV radiation. Plan your outdoor space with shade in mind by planting some trees if possible.


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