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The Quick Guide to Creating an Eco-Friendly Garden

If the COVID-19 pandemic and the weeks of enforced confinement that came with it (and may come again…) have taught us anything, it’s the importance of space – outdoor space, in particular. Our gardens have provided us with an extra ‘room’, a place where we’ve been able to retreat, to breathe, to steal ourselves away from our worries and frustrations. And now lockdown restrictions are easing, our gardens are offering us a safe place into which we can invite much-loved and -missed friends and family.

So, what can we do for nature in return? Most people would agree that it’s time to get serious about reducing our impact on the very environment that supports us. But where do you even begin? Since our gardens have given us so much pleasure and freedom of late, why not start there? We’ve been chatting to some of Artisan Central’s members to find out how we can make our gardens more eco-friendly…

Go wild!

Well maintained lawns and terrasses might provide neat outdoor spaces for playing games and hosting barbeques, but they don’t do a lot to promote biodiversity. Defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica as “the variety of life found in a place on Earth”, ‘biodiversity’ represents the health of the local eco system, which in turn, contributes to the overall health of the planet! What’s more, as Oxford University’s Professor David Macdonald told The Guardian, “Without biodiversity, there is no future for humanity”. So how can you increase the biodiversity in your garden?

The good news is, you can do a lot with little to no budget, and with minimal effort, as Richard Waldeck of Charente Assistance explains:

“A lot of people now choose to leave an area of their garden undisturbed – a ‘wild’ patch, where nature can prosper without interference from humans. We always check with homeowners when they ask us about the ‘jungle clearance’ services we provide, so that we don’t inadvertently clear an area that’s been created to promote biodiversity. And we ask anyone who wants us to look after their garden if they’d like us to plant some wild or native flowers, to attract more wildlife. Scattering seeds from native plants is a really quick and easy way to attract birds and pollinators. Water features and log or rock piles are basically open invitations to small mammals and reptiles, too. In France, it’s not uncommon to see beautifully ‘wild’ gardens – there’s something incredibly charming about them, and they promote biodiversity at the same time.”

For garden maintenance advice, talk to Artisan Central member Charente Assistance.

Plant a Tree

Described by many as ‘the lungs of the earth’, trees play an important role in purifying the air we breathe – especially in cities. And they bring loads of other benefits too, as Darren Shepherd from Vienne Tree Services has been telling us…

“Planting a tree, or even several trees, is a great way to make your garden more eco-friendly. As well as soaking up Co2 emissions, they’re good for attracting wildlife, especially if they’re flowering trees, like apple or cherry. You get some practical benefits too, because they’re good for making a garden more private and blocking out noise from nearby roads, and they provide shady areas, which can be really useful during the hotter months. If you grow a fruit tree, you’ll also save a little on shopping and reduce your air miles at the same time.”

Planting a tree takes very little time and effort, so this is a really easy way to up the eco factor in your garden, but don’t be rushing down to the garden centre just yet! Darren advises spending some time thinking very carefully about where you plant it first:

“Correct planting is really important or you can get yourself into all sorts of difficulties. Almost every day, I see cases where trees have been planted without any consideration for how they’ll grow and the effect that’ll have on everything around them. Think about the final height – is your tree going to touch an electricity wire, for example? And be mindful of nearby buildings. Trees can have huge, sprawling roots, which can easily cause damage to walls and driveways. And while a fruit tree might look nice outside your front door for some of the year, you’ll have gangs of wasps and the like buzzing around when its fruits start dropping!”

Artisan Central Member Vienne Tree Services is here to help with all your tree-related problems.

Invest in Eco-appliances

Creating an eco-friendly garden isn’t only about increasing opportunities for wildlife to flourish or using plants and trees to offset our own behaviour. It’s about reducing the impact we have on the environment, too. Thankfully, reducing our Co2 emissions isn’t such a difficult thing to do, because companies like EcoPower have done all the leg-work for us, as co-founder, Lindsey Elliott, explains:

“On the face of it, we sell and install renewable energy equipment, but behind the scenes, we’re constantly researching and testing the very best systems on the market so that our customers don’t have to!”

When it comes to outdoor living, EcoPower have found some great ways of making your garden more environmentally friendly, without taking away any of your creature comforts. If you love entertaining guests, or even just taking advantage of the warmer, lighter nights and eating al fresco as a family, then you need to know about the dual-purpose heaters they install:

“These freestanding devices work on the same principles as indoor wood burning stoves, so they produce a ‘clean burn’ and emit very little smoke, which is preferable to the large amounts of Co2 that come from gas heaters. And because the heat they deliver comes from a sealed chamber, you can regulate the heat output – which means you can use the grill on top (yes, there’s a grill too!) for everything from low and slow one-pot dishes to high heat wok-based meals. They also create a good-looking focal point – perfect for sitting around with friends, late into the night, or cosying up next to after a dip in the pool.”

For advice on eco appliances, talk to Artisan Central member EcoPower.

Speaking of pools, there’s a lot you can do to make that more environmentally friendly, too – simply by switching to a solar-powered heat pump, which generates all the electricity needed to keep your pool at a comfortable temperature. What’s more, any spare electricity generated when the pool isn’t in use can potentially be used in the house – but that’s a whole other blog…