Conservation, Current Issues, Grow Your Own, Guest Posts, Organic, Sustainable Living, Wildlife

Eco friendly product swaps

Introducing environmental values to your lifestyle is something that is becoming near-essential in the modern age. With eco-friendly homewares and low-energy appliances dominating the interior of the home, what can homeowners do in their gardens to remain eco-conscious?

Turns out, there are plenty of ways green-thumbed folks can attune their garden to the environment, and this post will run through some product swaps that can be done easily and without much impact on your garden’s bloom.

Feed your plants sustainably

The first consideration you should make in terms of keeping your garden eco-friendly is your plants’ diet. While some big brand fertilisers and plant foods may promise incredible growth in your plants, they tend to be based on chemicals which are bad for the environment.

Chemicals used in these fertilisers include nitrates and urea, which may improve your garden’s bloom in the short term, but long-term use of these products can contaminate the local area’s groundwater. Nitrogen pollution in groundwater is known to cause illnesses amongst humans and animals, as well as affecting water-borne life by creating an influx of plant life that deoxygenates ponds and lakes. When writ large across our rural areas, this is both a public health risk and an environmental hazard.

While this problem is largely down to industrial farming methods, doing the right thing in your garden by opting for organic fertilisers such as compost or manure will have a positive impact – however small it may be.

Avoid needless plastic

Both an aesthetic and environmentally practical choice, swapping out plastic pots for hard-wearing ceramic or terracotta will make your garden look far more stylish – all while reducing your reliance on an unnatural material. Once you’ve finished with your plastic pots, seek out ways to recycle or upcycle them into something new – don’t just opt for the landfill!

Just remember to replant your potted plants at the earliest possible opportunity, before they’ve put down firm roots, in order to make this as easy as possible.

Use renewable lighting

Picture the scene. It’s late summer, the nights are creeping in earlier and you need a bit of light in your garden. There might be a temptation to invest in conventionally-powered lighting, but this can negatively impact on your energy bills and electricity usage.

Solar-powered outdoor lights, on the other hand, require no mains wiring or batteries and slowly charge throughout the day – giving you pretty festival-style evening lighting. This alternative will effortlessly provide a gorgeous background to the later stages of your summer soirées.

Be bee-conscious

You may have heard of the crisis facing the world’s bee population. These prolific pollinators face a range of threats, from insecticides that harm their sense of navigation to the increase in colony collapse disorder – whereupon the worker bees abscond from the hive, leaving the queen to die.

A family of chemicals called neonicotinoids contribute to this global problem and are present in several commercial insecticides. Avoiding these and instead opting for natural alternatives (such as garlic or chilli sprays), all while planting plenty of pollen-rich, bee-friendly flowers in your garden, means you can do your part to allay the advance of this crisis.

Swap the supermarket for the garden

Growing your own doesn’t require an allotment, nor does it necessitate giving over your lawn to row upon row of crops. A small section of your garden can produce vegetables galore, and the only outlay that’s required is the purchase of seeds and a few home-grow essentials.

Soon, your natural harvest will come in, and you’ll be decreasingly reliant on the carbon-heavy supermarket supply chains – all while basking in the satisfaction of eating ingredients you grew yourself.

Bee in garden

An eco-friendly garden is a healthy garden, so we hope this post has proven that you needn’t sacrifice the lush greenery of your outside space by attuning it to the environment.

Paul RichardsPaul Richards is a long-time botanist and founder of Herbfarmacy – an online retailer selling organic, natural skin care products for all skin types that are packed with herbs grown on their farm in Herefordshire.

Animals, Bird Baths, Birds, Conservation, Current Issues, Gardens, How To, Megan, Organic, Sustainable Living, Wildlife

Rewilding Your Garden - Wild Flowers

What Is Rewilding?

Rewilding, simply put, is allowing your garden to be restored to its natural state. This in turn encourages more wildlife and wild plants to reside in your garden. Rewilding involves sitting back and letting your garden undergo natural processes it’s yearning for you to allow. Those who keep their gardens prim and proper may be baffled by this thought, but there is something beautiful in watching nature run its course and the outcome is something you will be sure to embrace.

Rewilding Your Garden - Butterflies

Why You Should Consider Rewilding Your Garden

There are many benefits to rewilding your garden. In a world that is constantly developing, rewilding will help nature recover from the destruction it is experiencing in the wider community. Experiencing a pocket of wild nature can do wonders for the mind and can improve health and wellbeing. Rewilding also encourages wildlife, from wild birds to rare insects, and allows them to flourish. More than half of wild species in the UK are in decline and 15% are threatened with extinction. Leaving nature to run wild in your garden will provide a space for biodiversity to blossom right in front of your eyes.

How to Start Rewilding Your Garden

Ditch the Chemicals

Many of the chemical pesticides, weed killers, slug pellets and fertilisers are incredibly harmful to the wildlife in the garden, especially insects. Bees for example, which human life depends on, are killed by contact pesticides. Ditching chemicals can do wonders for your health, the health of your garden and ultimately the wildlife population in the vicinity of your garden.

Weeds aren’t actually all that bad; stinging nettles, for example, provide a home for moths and butterflies. Many weeds protect and restore exposed or degraded soils. If you feel weeds are taking over and you can’t resist getting your hands dirty weeding, opt for a homemade, natural, organic weed killer.

For more tips on ditching chemicals in your garden, check out our post on organic gardening.

Rewilding Your Garden - Fish In Pond

Add Water

One of the best things you can do to increase biodiversity whilst rewilding your garden is to add water. It is after all what sustains life on earth, so it can do wonders for encouraging wildlife in your garden. You can go all out and add a pond to your garden if you wish, which offer a self-sustaining cycle of hydration. This in turn saves water – by building a pond you are allowing that part of your garden to self-water, alleviating the need to use more water. Over time your pond will be abundant with pond life such as frogs, newts, pond snails and damselflies.

If a pond is a bit ambitious for you, or you have a smaller garden, provide a smaller source of water such as a water fountain or bird bath. Running water attracts wildlife such as birds, rabbits & squirrels.

Rewilding Your Garden - Flower Meadow

Leave Your Lawn Be

Put that lawnmower away! Leaving your lawn to grow in abundance will encourage a diversity of grass and herb species. Many of these will flower – the dream of having a wildflower meadow right in your back garden is possible! Borders and paths can be kept neat by mowing and trimming, but be sure to keep the main bulk of your lawn to grow as wild as you dare. Leave cutting your meadows to late in the year. Goldfinches like to munch on the late seeds and meadow brown caterpillars feed on the long grass and hibernate underneath it.

Don’t Over-Plant

You may be tempted to aid in rewilding your garden by planting native plants, but it is best to be patient and wait until they start growing themselves. Seeing what species of flowers and trees pop up is much more exciting and will save you lots of money too. Species that naturally grow in your garden will also be a lot better suited to your soil than any plants you try to introduce yourself.

In conclusion, rewilding your garden can be an exciting and rewarding experience. We hope we’ve inspired you and left you wondering what could grow in your garden if you let it just be!

Megan at PrimroseMegan works in the Primrose marketing team. When she is not at her desk you will find her half way up a hill in the Chilterns
or enjoying the latest thriller series on Netflix. Megan also enjoys cooking vegetarian feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.

See all of Megan’s posts.

Current Issues, Guest Posts, How To, Organic, Sustainable Living

eco friendly garden

With the beginning of summer in the UK, you wouldn’t want to miss the beautiful weather by confining yourself within the house. As your patio will be the centre of attention for family gatherings, entertainment and the perfect spot for relaxation, why not consider remodeling the area? What’s even better is giving the patio an earth-friendly makeover. This way you will be able to add new textures, colours, update the furniture and beautify your home while fulfilling your commitment to the environment. Here are eight creative tips for you to make your garden eco-friendly:

Use Organic Fabrics

Adding some new colours will help you create the desired environment and revamp your outdoors. The upholstery brings everything together adding the perfect touch to your patio, so make these choices carefully. While you are out in your search for the perfect colours, patterns and designs, consider getting some organic fabric instead of the regular synthetic ones. Organic cotton and hemp are great options; the materials are environment-friendly and help limit your exposure to chemicals that are otherwise used in synthetic cotton and linens. You can even buy cushions filled with organic soy, corn or cotton or those made using natural dyes, so you don’t end up compromising on your favourite shades.

Organic fabrics

Look for Sustainable Furniture

Selecting the correct furniture is essential as it brings comfort, enjoyment, and relaxation. Eco-friendly furniture may seem expensive, but it is worth the price and pays off in the more extended run. Today sustainable furniture has become an increasingly common choice due to their benefits to the environment, durability and the aesthetic appeal of course. The two most popular materials include teak and eucalyptus wood, the former being the most expensive yet demanded material for its beauty and ease of maintenance. Eucalyptus is a more affordable alternative if you aren’t looking to spend a high amount yet want the same benefits as that of teak. The important thing is to ensure that the furniture you buy is made out of wood which was grown and harvested in an eco-friendly manner. For those who wouldn’t want to opt for wood, aluminum or stainless steel are good choices.

Teak furniture

Eco-Friendly Rugs

The perfect patio wouldn’t look complete without a comfy rug, would it? There are tons of options available for environment-friendly materials such as jute, bamboo, seagrass, recycled plastic, cotton yarns, sisal to name a few. These are not only sustainable, biodegradable but also strong & sound-absorbent and are excellent for adding texture. Make sure you get a rug with the correct construction as it will be more durable and last you longer. You can even opt for rugs made out of recycled plastic for high-traffic areas to add a touch of greenery. You have the opportunity to play with your creativity so get something that solidifies the feel of the space.

Organic Rugs

Recycle Old Household Items to Use as Décor

You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to remodel your patio. Various old items in the house may seem useless but guess what, you can put your imagination to work and recycle these to add beauty to your outdoors. It is all about letting your creative juices flow, and you will be able to create a masterpiece out of anything, from old tires to metal containers, even your old pair of boots (hint: these may act as flower pots). You can reupholster old furniture or re-paint the old patio table to give it a total makeover.

Innovative Technologies

If you desire to make an impact, then consider investing in energy efficient technologies that are kinder to the environment. Of course, it isn’t possible to install high power solar panels at once, but you can always begin with small changes. For instance, you can get solar powered night lights for your garden or patio. You may also consider investing in a motion detecting system for your porch; the lights will automatically turn on when the sensor identifies motion which will help save electricity. This way you will be able to contribute to the saving of precious natural resources while reducing pollution.

Solar lights

Add Native Plants to Your Yards

Since we are remodeling the patio, the garden could also use a few changes. The first step towards an eco-friendly garden is planting native species. These plants require less maintenance and can help lower your water costs. If you wish to take a step closer towards the goal, consider going organic with your garden and create a healthy, pesticide-free environment for growing fruits and veggies.

Use Natural Cleaning Methods

Once you are done remodeling the outdoor area, it is now time to think of ways of maintaining the patio without being harsh to the environment. Instead of relying on chemicals, you can use natural products available at stores or create your cleaning solutions using substances like vinegar or lemon juice. Recycle all your waste and try to adopt a plastic-free approach for your home starting with the patio.

Choose Environment-Friendly Decoration Options

For walkways and patios, you can consider bricks, permeable concrete pavers, and natural stones as green options for a patio. As for decorating the area, you can utilise the beauty of nature in whatever way you like. If you wish to witness the majestic beauty of birds, you can add birdhouses to provide accommodation for the birdies, birdbaths, a small pond and plants to create a relaxing environment.

bird feeder

Danica Boyd is a bird enthusiast and nature lover. She has been keeping pet birds for several years and now has tons of practical experience in caring for birds. She writes for the team behind Bird Cages Now.

Composting, Gardening, How To, Megan, Organic

Why Compost?

There are countless benefits to composting and it is easier to get started than a lot of people think! When you use it as a soil amendment it improves the soils structure, provides a source of plant nutrients and stimulates beneficial organisms. Other benefits include saving money you may be spending on expensive soil amendments and reducing waste sent to landfill, contributing to a more sustainable planet. It is also great if you want to transition to transforming your garden into an organic, pesticide-free environment. It is easy to learn how to compost and it is a great investment of your time!

Compost Bins

How to compost: compost bins
How to compost: compost bins

First things first – investing in a great compost bin will make your life as a composter gardener a lot easier. There are numerous compost solutions on the market today. These include easy-load compost bins and tumbling compost bins for faster composting. Accessories such as compost aerators which helps speed up the decomposition process are also available. If you want to be extra kind to the environment, avoid plastic and invest in a wooden compost bin.

Alternatively, you can recycle and use an old rubbish bin as a compost bin. Saw off the bottom and drill holes in the bottom half of the bin, then bury the section with holes in the soil. This will allow microorganisms to more easily enter your pile.

We have highlighted below some items you can and cannot compost. All you need to do to get started is start loading into your compost bin, and wait for it to do its magic!

What You Can Compost

How to compost: peeling potatoes

You can compost the majority of the organic matter from your food waste, including but not limited to:

  • Tea bags (be wary that some tea bags are encased in plastic and other inorganic materials.  If in doubt cut open and just compost the contents)
  • Egg shells
  • Fruit & vegetable scraps
  • Coffee grounds & filters
  • Leftover cooked pasta & rice
  • Stale food, such as bread, cereal and crisps (bury bread deep to discourage pests)
  • Cardboard food packaging with any plastic removed, cut up for easier decomposition
  • Herbs & spices

But composting materials aren’t just limited to kitchen scraps! Many people aren’t aware you can also cultivate other household waste, including:

  • Facial tissues
  • Cotton items – cotton wool, clothing, fabric
  • Newspaper & waste paper, as long as it’s not glossed (best to feed through a shredder first)
  • Crumbs and dust collected from your dustpan
  • Uneaten dry dog & cat food
  • Dead house plants & flowers

And last but not least, don’t forget to compost your garden waste, such as:

  • Grass trimmings
  • Leaves
  • Dying plant material
  • Non-toxic weeds

What You Can’t Compost

how to compost: walnuts

There are some things better left out of compost. These items may slow decomposition and produce a lower quality of compost. Others aren’t just bad for compost, but bad for the environment. The general rule is you can compost anything that is organic matter that was once living. Some exceptions to this rule are:

  • Cooking oil
  • Diseased plants
  • Dairy products, including milk (although plant-based milks can be composted)
  • Meat scraps
  • Any inorganic materials
  • Walnuts
  • Pet faeces

How to Use Your Compost

how to compost: compost in scoop

Compost can be used in many beneficial ways. As already mentioned it is a great organic soil amendment. Simply spread it onto your flower bed or veg patch to make your flowers lusher and your vegetables hardier. Compost can also be used as a lawn topper. It will encourage growth and ensure your grass is as green as can be. It can also be used as mulch, helping retain soil moisture as well as boosting its health.

What about pests?

It is pretty easy to keep unwanted pests just as rats, away from compost. Keeping meat and dairy products out of your compost will help as these are big for attracting rodents. Another solution is to buy a closed compost bin with a lid. This will keep pests away as well as conceal the smell of the compost. Also be sure to keep your compost bin away from other animal food sources, such as berry bushes or bird feeders.

Overall, composting is a great thing to do for you as a gardener, your garden and the wider environment. The benefits are endless and there is no better day to start than today!

Megan at PrimroseMegan works in the Primrose marketing team. When she is not at her desk you will find her half way up a hill in the Chilterns
or enjoying the latest thriller series on Netflix. Megan also enjoys cooking vegetarian feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.

See all of Megan’s posts.