Sustainable Lifestyles: How to Start Your Own Minimal-Impact Garden

In the aftermath of the pandemic and in the midst of a brewing climate crisis, there’s literally nothing better you can do for your mental health than starting a garden.

In addition to being an outdoor activity that gets you outside in a time when most of our activities are relegated to the home, gardening is a great way to turn your mind towards something productive. The act of nurturing plants that you grow yourself has been scientifically proven to reduce symptoms of conditions like depression and anxiety, having a healing effect on the gardener that is often used in conjunction with other kinds of therapy.

In the midst of a global pandemic, where being inside consistently has had a negative impact on the mental health of millions, gardening may be part of the antidote to the negative consequences of our pandemic-adapted lifestyles.

Gardening Sustainably is Crucial

However, if you’re going to start a garden of your own, you should keep in mind ecological sustainability as you plan the spaces you’re going to use, the plants you’re going to grow, and the materials you use to feed and nurture them. Irresponsible gardening has been known to have several negative impacts on the environment, including:

  • Harmful chemicals like pesticides leaching through soil into groundwater, contaminating a massive well of resources and negatively impacting environmental and personal health.
  • Overwatering leading to an abundance of wasted resources, as well as weaker soil and plant health.
  • Killing or discouraging vital insects from dwelling in your garden, such as pollinators that will help your garden remain healthy and vibrant.
    • The overuse of pesticides for this purpose has actually resulted in bringing several vital species to the brink of extinction.

As more Americans are becoming necessarily conscious of how their actions impact the world around them, amid record storms, droughts, and temperatures brought about by climate change, you’ll want to make sure you are also making sustainable choices in your gardening practices. Not just for the “greater good,” although you may find yourself driven by such a purpose, but to make sure your garden has the best chance of growing strong and living long.

As such, here are some things you can do to make sure you start your garden off on the right foot.

Practicing Sustainability

Part of being environmentally friendly is minimizing the amount of resources expended to achieve an outcome, whether that outcome is fertilizing your garden, furnishing outdoor spaces, or watering your plants. As such, you’ll want to get creative when it comes to setting up your garden, making the most of the resources you have, as well as discerning when it comes to spending your hard-earned money on new assets for your garden.

One great way to reuse materials that you may have thought of as disposable is saving and composting piles of leaves. Leaf piles are typically seen as garbage that the local city utility is obligated to dispose of instead of what they could be, a vital source of fertilizer. Or collecting rainwater in barrels to water your plants instead of using city water.

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Another great way to practice sustainability is to be conscious of how the products you’re purchasing for your garden are made. Instead of buying from a furniture manufacturer that uses inefficient, resource-wasting processes, you can choose to invest in sustainably-sourced furniture that has a much more minor ecological footprint, like Boho furniture. Purchasing such items is what makes it likely that other manufacturers will adopt environmentally-friendly measures in the future, meaning your purchase won’t just have an impact on the sustainability of your garden but on market trends as well.

Use All-Natural Fertilizers and Pest Control

As mentioned above, the overuse of chemicals like herbicides and pesticides (and even some hormones found in fertilizers) can leach into groundwater and significantly impact the surrounding ecosystem. If you want to minimize this impact, you might want to look into all-natural methods of pest control and fertilizer. While it sometimes takes longer to implement these methods, as they’re rarely as convenient for the average customer as picking up a can of Roundup from the store, they will ensure that your garden stays healthier longer.

For organic fertilizers, consider looking into materials that have been known to facilitate plant growth, like compost, animal manure, and cottonseed meal. For low-impact herbicides and pesticides, you can easily mix your own at home, using common ingredients like dish soap and salt to kill weeds, and there is no shortage of suggestions out there for homemade, environmentally-friendly forms of pest control.

The best way to make sure your garden stays healthy is to make sure that your practices are ecologically friendly and safe. Should you choose to pick up gardening to keep yourself busy in the midst of this pandemic, make sure you take the time to evaluate your processes, making sure you minimize your ecological footprint.