How can we create a sustainable garden?
Contrary to most beliefs, building a sustainable garden is far easier than employing numerous artificial means. A sustainable garden is one where every aspect retains its natural way, rather than human interventions. This method minimises inputs and depends on the natural ways to support foliage.
Building a sustainable garden only requires a thorough knowledge and understanding of how the vegetation of a region survives. Hence, a careful study of the flora and fauna is the first step towards developing a sustainable garden.
Besides, there are a few common steps that need to be followed when building a sustainable garden. These are as follows:
Developing a sustainable landscape and maintaining the same
Choosing the right patch of land and developing the same holistically is a very important factor. This involves understanding the area’s inherent ecological challenges and providing solutions for the same. These challenges can be multi-fold and deal with erosion, water conservation, leaching of nutrients etc. The target of sustainable landscaping is to preserve the existing mineral and water content, reduce wastage and prevent water run-off.
Ideally, we should not compact the soil. The well-tilled soil is airier and more capable of absorbing water, thus preventing run-offs. This will also allow plant roots to spread extensively under the surface. This brings us to water conservation. Water, mostly in the form of precipitation, is the largest source of groundwater. We should design a soil drainage in such a way that it allows maximum percolation of water underground. Also, over-tilling is harmful, as it leaches the soil of its nutrient reserves. Recycling materials and using composts are natural ways to boost the mineral content of the soil.
Choosing sustainable plants
More often than not, native plants are the strongest plants to survive in a region. Foreign species have to be provided with a lot of support to help them pull through. Sustainable plants can solve several problems. They can drought-resistant and ineffective to local pests and diseases, thus reducing costs associated with maintenance. However, native plants need not necessarily be the only susceptible plants. Sometimes, exotic species may add the necessary biodiversity to the ecosystem. But we must be careful while adding exotic species to the mix. Sometimes, these plants turn into weeds, destroying the local vegetation.
The upkeep associated with sustainable plants is minimum and can be easily provided. This is in contrast with the high-cost maintenance required for growing unsuited plants. Also, plants can be arranged in a way that they themselves can act as a control for light and rain, in the form of tall trees (to provide shade) and shrubbery (to allow greater percolation of water).
Using sustainable breeding and maintenance processes
Nature has her own ways of maintaining a forested land. There is never so much growth is a forest as to suffocate the existing life forms. It is also not too sparsely covered so as not to provide sustenance to the ecosystem. Sustainable gardens, similarly, we should treat them with as little mechanized interventions as possible. Our forefathers did not own bulky mowers and tractors. Manual labor, though difficult, is the mildest way of pruning and harvesting.
Creating a sustainable garden is a study in the ways of nature. Barring sudden extinctions, nature has always allowed evolution and the ultimate creation of resilient species. We as humans need only mimic her ways and gain results that will outlive a single generation.