With the welcome arrival of longer days and (occasionally) warmer weather, many of us are beginning to get back out into our gardens to reap the physical and mental benefits of caring for green space.

We thought there was no better time to discuss how to develop your green fingers with sustainability in mind, whether you have acres of space, or a mini herb garden on your windowsill.

Ditch the plastic

Reducing plastic use is a great ethos for life, and gardening is no exception.

It's not just plant pots that we need to consider; tools, plant labels, string, compost bags, netting, plant supports, flower bulb packets and garden ornaments have all traditionally been plastic-hungry products.

When you next need to buy gardening supplies, try to choose natural, biodegradable or recyclable options. This applies to packaging too. Consider also whether you could make your own supplies; for example, paper plant pots.

If you can't find a plastic-free alternative, make sure you really need that product before you buy it, and remember to always re-use existing and new plastic wherever possible.

Choose peat-free compost

If you do need to buy compost, make sure it is a peat-free variety. Peat mining has a terrible negative effect on the environment, and with peat-free alternatives readily available, it's never been easier to drop this harmful option.

Better still, get an endless supply of free compost by creating your own!

All you need is a compost bin or heap – you can even try making your own out of recycled wooden pallets – and all the right waste from your kitchen and garden, plus a few worms.

Good things to compost include vegetable peelings, fruit waste, teabags, plant pruning's and grass cuttings.

Check out this handy how-to guide here for more tips on creating your own compost.

Welcome wildlife

Gardens can play a vital role in supporting our local wildlife and doing so will also help to create a sustainable garden. Encouraging local wildlife to visit your garden will provide you with a natural method of pest control and lots of year-round interest too.

Wildlife gardening can be as simple as leaving a patch of grass to grow long, building a log pile, installing a bug hotel, or providing food* and water for birds, hedgehogs, and other garden visitors. All of these are fantastic projects for children to get involved with.

You can support wildlife with the plants you grow too.

Choose plants that are attractive to bees, butterflies, moths and other pollinating insects; the RHS plants for pollinators is a good resource.

*Make sure you research what kind of food is suitable, as some foods/drinks can be harmful to wildlife

Grow your own grub

With no carbon footprint from transportation and no packaging involved, growing your own produce is the ultimate act of sustainability!

There's something really satisfying about eating seasonal food that you've grown from just a tiny seed or bulb. Now is a great time to start growing courgettes, tomatoes, lettuces, cabbages, beetroot, and many more.

If you're short on garden space or live in a flat/apartment, there's still plenty of ways you can discover your green fingers. Windowsills are a great place for growing herbs, chillies, cress, edible flowers, and radish.

Our West team have joined forces with Goody Foody Gardens, to give customers the opportunity to have their very own raised bed vegetable patch added to their garden as part of their new home purchase. Read more here

Environmentally-friendly pest control

Every garden is affected by pests at some point, but gardening sustainably means avoiding reaching for the chemicals.

The best approach to controlling plant pests is to try and stop them becoming a problem in the first place.

Keep a close eye on your plants and take action at the first signs of infestation. Aim to keep your plants healthy and strong too, this will help them cope with pest damage much more effectively.

Your biggest weapon in the battle against plant pests is the insects that feed on the pests.

Ladybirds, ants, lacewings and spiders will all keep aphids (greenfly and blackfly) under control, and ground beetles will help deal with caterpillars and slugs. Encourage these beneficial insects to take up residence in your garden by providing a natural habitat such as a log pile or bug hotel.

You can also stop pests getting to your plants by creating physical barriers, such as crushed eggshells and copper tape around plant pots to deter slugs.

Stay tuned for our next blog post where we will be exploring even more sustainability tips. 

Got some tips of your own? We would love for you to tell us all about them over on our social media channels @calahomes!

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