Just think. If every single home garden in Ireland made simple changes towards a more environmentally friendly space, the collective impact would be significant, especially when transforming our impact on urban spaces.
If you’re seriously thinking of making your home a more sustainable dwelling in 2024, you could use a cluster of simple interventions to improve the impact of your gardening.
Whether you are aiming for a more circular economy, more biodiversity, more flood prevention or just love saving money, many simple improvements are waiting to be discovered.
Say ‘Yes’ to Having a Garden. Say ‘No’ to Flooding
We can guard against drought and flooding with more eco-friendly planting and ‘Rain Garden’ cultivation. This gardening style aims to slow down the rainwater run-off, retaining every last drop of water instead of decanting it into the drains.
Flooding is a growing threat to more and more neighbourhoods in Ireland, so it pays for us all to do our bit with the spaces we have.
Take Away the Tarmac
If you’ve inherited a property with a front garden covered in paving or tarmac, it may be time to add some landscaping and bring nature back.
In response to the recent spate of flooding in Ireland, Dublin City Council has also appealed to households to “stop paving their front gardens with concrete or tarmac due to increasing flooding and sewage overflows.”
More than a decorative feature of your facade, this basic intervention will affect the whole city and its microclimate.
You won’t have to give up on all the paved surfaces if you have a car. You can use the shaded area on the side of your driveway.
More Flood Prevention Steps
- Select Water-Retaining Plant Species: Look out for native long grasses and sedges – species with long, deep root structures that help you soak up excess moisture to fend off seasons of drought.
- Collect and Recycle Rainwater: You can save water for reuse in your outdoor property in various ways. Check out our blog: “20 Ways to Save Water Inside and Outside your Irish Home” for more water-saving options.
- Keep Mulching: Keep applying organic mulch, using natural materials such as straw, bark, or well-rotted manure, to retain more soil moisture, suppress weeds, and gradually improve soil quality as it decomposes.
- Allow for Leaf Mould: Collect fallen leaves from your winter garden and let them decompose into leaf mould. This is an excellent way to create a nutrient-rich, moisture-retentive soil conditioner in one go. It also saves you from feeding your soil with artificial fertilisers.
- Reclaim the Balcony Or Backyard: If you live in a high-rise apartment or have a tiny inner-city backyard covered in concrete, all is not lost. You can do wonders on a small budget. All it takes is a few planters, creative planting with creepers for vertical greening, and the odd hook for hanging plants. Look no further than our little blog on “Outdoor Decor Ideas That Will Make Your Balcony a Mini Haven”.
Bring Nature in with Biodiversity
This could prove challenging if you are an avid gardener with a highly manicured lawn, well-laid-out bedding, and sculpted topiary.
But it’s worth it. You will be restoring more balance and resilience to our natural environment. This pursuit is not just worthwhile for its own sake, but encouraging wildlife also affects your soil’s fertility and helps you manage pests more naturally.
Try this year for a more diverse plant selection of native species well-suited to the Irish climate. Include a mix of trees, shrubs, flowers, grasses, and groundcovers to bring life and colour to different seasons.
How to encourage more biodiversity in your garden
- You will have to give up absolute control and take a step back. You may have to put aside the pesticides and pruning shears to create habitats for a broader range of wilder, more indigenous flora and fauna.
- Replace your homogeneous lawn or sections of your lawn with pollinator-friendly species such as lavender, foxgloves, and heather.
- Build habitats to encourage more local fauna. Create structures like birdhouses, bat boxes, and insect hotels to provide nesting and overwintering sites for various creatures and help increase the garden’s animal population.
- Look to our helpful blog: “Love Birdwatching? Make Your Garden a Bird-Friendly Space This Summer”, for more helpful haven-making tips.
- Feeling more adventurous? Try creating a water feature in your back garden: Adding a small pond or a water feature will attract amphibians like frogs and newts and provide water for birds and insects to bathe and drink from.
- Avoid Toxic Chemicals: Minimize or eliminate using artificial chemical pesticides and herbicides, which can harm beneficial insects and other wildlife. Opt for organic and natural methods of pest and disease control. Over time, the natural proliferation of fauna and the development of a more complex ecosystem in your garden will help to self-regulate against pests.
- If you have a larger property, you could grow yourself a more pleasing vista, biodiversity and depth to your planting with Layered Planting – choose different species to create a more natural canopy, understory, shrub layer, and ground cover. This mimics natural ecosystems and provides varied habitats for different species.
Explore Naturalistic and Indigenous Planting
Reports of invasive alien plant species have led to greater consciousness and a call for more responsibility when planting in Irish gardens. This is a worthwhile resolution to make in 2024.
It chimes with the new global trend for more naturalistic planting and rewilding that pays homage to naturally occurring plants and the drive for more biodiversity.
How to go Natural in your Garden
- Leave Some Wild Areas: Designate a section in your garden to allow wild growth and stand back. Just let nature take her course by letting grasses and wildflowers grow naturally.
- You can add carefully curated seeds from local grasses and pollinators
- Engage in less maintenance, which means less ‘weeding’. What we considered weeds in the past are lovingly cherished wildflowers today. Allow perennials to naturally reseed themselves and refrain from removing seed heads.
What will you get in return? A prairie-like meadow that will grow more and more diverse over time. Allowing more naturally occurring plants will also provide habitats for many native species and can be a wildlife sanctuary.
Live and Let Die
Keeping close to Nature also means paying homage to the benefits of natural decay and decomposition.
Many of us have already been converted to the benefits of composting for its more natural recycling and sil generation benefits. We’ve even got a quick introduction to the topic in our blog: “Keep Calm and Compost Naturally at Home – Why It’s Worth It & How to Get Started.”
Let Sleeping Stumps Lie
In addition to composting, there are even more benefits to the slow decay process. Stumpery Gardens and using naturally decaying dead logs can support more moisture retention, biodiversity, and fern cultivation. Deadwood or logs create a perfect haven for bug hotels. This would be an easy win for a larger property.
The Bigger Picture
As the duration and moisture levels change over time, be prepared this year to adapt your standard gardening practices and even planting schedule to adjust to the different times of the seasons.
Regardless of the immediate benefits to your home and your garden’s aesthetic, the benefits of sticking to these Eco-conscious gardening resolutions are boundless. You will be developing a living space that is more resilient and adaptive to the current climatic changes in Ireland in the long term.