Features of a Sustainable Garden

Features of a Sustainable Garden

So what makes a garden sustainable?

Kris Burns, Chairperson of the WSU/Jefferson County Master Gardeners’ Secret Garden Tour, shares a checklist of some sustainable garden features.

A sustainable gardener conserves water by:

  • Mulching around plants
  • Applying water only as needed according to soil conditions, plant age and type
  • Using soaker hoses or drip irrigation

A sustainable gardener designs by:

  • Clustering plants with similar needs together
  • Placing the part of the garden requiring the most care closest to the house
  • Taking advantage of microclimates
  • Incorporating edible plants in the landscape
  • Planting with wildlife in mind

A sustainable gardener attends to soil tilth by:

  • Composting garden and household vegetable matter
  • Protecting the soil from erosion
  • Defining walkways and driveways to prevent compacting the soil
  • Mulching by using readily available materials like straw, compost or gravel
  • Revitalize soil with organic fertilizers and compost

A sustainable gardener chooses plants that:

  • Attract beneficial insects
  • Are non-invasive (each county has invasive species lists)
  • Are appropriate to the area’s climate like natives and their friends (or related ornamentals that blend with the surrounding landscape)
  • Can be maintained with less use of power tools
  • Are for texture and multi-season interest
  • Are grown locally whenever possible

A sustainable garden conserves the gardener’s energy by:

  • Using the leaves that fall as mulch on the beds
  • Appreciating a plant’s natural form and planting the right size plant in the right place
  • Understanding the role of insects in the garden
  • Tolerating minor imperfections
  • Using mulch to reduce weeding and prevent disease
  • Returning plant pots to nurseries who will reuse them
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