Your outdoor space, whether it’s a grassy yard or a well-maintained garden, is ‘green’ by definition. However, did you know that it may not be as ‘green’ as every gardener hopes it would be? If you notice that your utility bills seem to never go down especially in the summer, your precious garden may very well be one of the culprits.
You see, maintaining a garden requires a lot of energy and resources. In the scorching heat of summer, you’re most likely watering your plants more often so they won’t dry out. And while your intentions for doing so is for the good of your garden, most people tend to water their plants inefficiently.
The above is just one of the many examples how energy and resources are wasted in the garden. Some may argue that modern gardens are more eco-friendly, but that’s not always the case. In this guide, you’ll learn about seven of the most energy-efficient ways to run your garden.
Maximise water usage
Everyone knows that plants need water to survive and in fact, even the most drought-resistant plant will still need water. However, most people don’t use water efficiently in their gardens. If anything, this is probably where a lot are unknowingly wasting energy at home.
The first thing that you can do to save water in your garden is to use a watering can instead of a hose to control the amount you use. If you really must use a hose, see to it that you’re using a trigger to control its flow.
During summer, it’s only natural that you water your plants more often to keep them hydrated. However, you should maximise water usage to the fullest by watering late in the afternoon or early in the morning. This will give your plants and soil enough time to absorb the water instead of being wasted through evaporation.
Use other sources of water
Another way that you can reduce your water usage is by utilising a free resource — rainwater. Installing a water butt is a very easy DIY project that even someone who’s a novice to carpentry can manage.
At the same time, you can also use ‘greywater’ or water that’s been used in the home except for water from toilets. Water from showering, the sink, or even the laundry can all be used in your garden especially during the hot seasons. However, keep in mind that you should only use ‘greywater’ for non-edible plants.
Choose drought-resistant plants
If you want to cut down your water usage, drought-tolerant plants are the way to go. Naturally, these plants don’t require as much watering as other plant species which means that you’ll significantly reduce your water consumption. And if you have installed rainwater butts in your garden, it’s very likely that you will never have to use tap water.
As a bonus, drought-tolerant plants also need very little maintenance. For instance, species of grass that thrive well in the drought don’t need cutting on a regular basis, unlike the others. This means that you won’t have to use your lawn mower as much and if you are paying someone to do this for you, then you would have saved money in the process.
Improve your soil
You might be thinking how the soil affects energy efficiency in gardens but rest assured that it does play an important role. Familiarise yourself with the different types of soil including the different ways to make each ‘healthy’. After all, healthy soil almost always means a healthy garden.
But aside from that, healthy soil will be able to retain moisture and nutrients better which means you don’t have to use as much water on your plants. Even better, mulch your flower beds with organic matter like wood chips. Doing so will reduce the water lost to evaporation.
Composting will also help a lot in improving the soil in your garden. You may want to try vermicomposting which is a method of composting that makes use of specific types of worms. It’s relatively easy to get started and is a great way to reduce the waste produced by your home.
Start using solar lights
Top off-grid energy sources have their sets of pros and cons. But the pros of renewable energy sources far outweigh the cons. That’s precisely why the world is seeing a lot of improvements to utilise these technologies even further.
Your home and garden are some of the places where you can make use of a clean and renewable source of energy: Solar lights! In the garden, solar lights are so much better than traditional ones simply because they will greatly reduce your dependence on grid power.
Be it aesthetics or functionality; solar lights will always have something to offer. If you want to light up the path to your garden, solar stake lights will do the job. If you want to add more visual appeal to your precious space, solar string lights that come in different colours can be draped around trees and bushes.
Pretty much, there’s a solar light that can be used for whatever garden application you have in mind. And as solar power technology continues to improve, it’s only a matter of time before other applications for solar lights get uncovered.
Mowing and other gardening equipment
Speaking of lawn mowers, this and other gardening equipment can also spell the difference between an energy-efficient garden and one that is not. As much as possible or if you have a pretty small lawn area, use an electric mower instead of a gas-powered one.
Some may say that you’re still using electricity which adds up to your utilities and it’s true. However, if you consider how expensive gasoline is, it’s a no-brainer which is the better option between the two. In addition to that, electric-powered mowers don’t release carbon monoxide into the atmosphere which makes them a better option for the environment.
Plant Deciduous Shade Trees
Logic has it that a shady spot is cooler than one that is soaked under the heat of the sun. There’s no arguing about that fact and if you apply this to your garden, it will help you save a lot of energy and money as well.
That being said, you can make your home more energy-efficient by planting shady trees on the side of the house that gets the most sunlight. During summer, less sunlight will be able to make its way into your home because the trees will block it. When this happens, your air conditioner won’t have to work as hard to keep your house cool.
On the other hand, deciduous shade trees will lose its leaves during the winter, allowing sunlight to pass through. Using the same principle, your heater will not have to shoulder the heavy burden of keeping your house warm.
If you plan on planting trees, make sure you take care of them properly! Mistakes like over pruning can have a detrimental effect, and even result in your tree dying.
Your energy-efficient garden
Running your garden in an energy efficient way doesn’t need to be hard. You can take baby steps by implementing just one of these tips to start with, or go all in and try all of them!
The best bit is that no matter how many of these methods you try, you’ll be making positive steps towards living more efficiently.
Salman is a prolific environmental writer, and has authored more than 500 articles in reputed journals, magazines and websites. He is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management, sustainability and conservation all over the world.
Salman can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org