Landscaping Ideas for a Low Waste Garden

Why create a low waste garden? Designing a low waste garden will help to minimise the amount of energy and organic material your household uses. All plants should be chosen to suit the environment and climate of the area, provide shelter and habitat for wildlife. Most organic material should be recycled into mulch or compost and reused in the garden which will reduce watering and fertilising. If a low waste garden is designed correctly it will also save you time and money on watering and fertilising.

The lawn can be one of the worst areas of the garden for water consumption, energy consumption (fuel), organic waste (clippings), time and pollution in the form of run off from fertilisers used to keep the lawn healthy and growing well. Having said that, most gardeners love their lawn and so do I, so what can we do about it to improve a lawn’s effect on the environment? Investigate your existing lawn. Can you reduce the size of it in any way by expanding gardening beds? Create a vegetable or herb garden? Or create a slice of native habitat for the local wildlife?

The lawn can be replaced with low maintenance ground covers that do not require mowing or watering. They may only require very limited fertilising in the form of compost and a once a year trim. These landscaping ideas will save you time with mowing, watering and fertilising and will improve your garden’s environmental characteristics.

If reducing your lawn is out of the question then the following ideas may better suit your garden. Compost all the grass clippings taken from the lawn and do not throw them in the rubbish. They are a great source of nitrogen and beneficial to the compost heap. Another option is to cut the grass without the mower’s catcher and leave the clippings on the lawn. They will dry out and fall to the soil providing mulch and reduce the lawns reliance on water and fertilisers. This method is generally only good if you mow your lawn regularly. Long lawns will end up with piles of grass clippings so be sure to rake the piles away and place in the compost as they will damage the patches of the lawn under them.

If you are designing a new garden research the planting alternatives suggested below to use instead of lawn. Have a look at some of the newer varieties of turf around as some are slower growing than others and will require less mowing and watering.

The following is a list of some possible lawn replacement plants that can tolerate some walking on.

– Dryarna flavius – Native Turf (requires less water and mowing)

– Dichondra repens – Kidney Weed (tolerates shady areas, walking on and mowing)

– Thymus serpyllum – Wild Thyme

– Sporobolus virginicus – Nathers Green

– Mazus pumilio – Swamp Mazus

– Mentha pulegium var. decumbens – Corsican Mint

Another area of your garden to look at is the planting. For a low waste garden, plants should be selected to tolerate the soil and local climate conditions of the area. Choosing locally occurring plant species will reduce the garden’s reliance on water and fertilisers as these plants will be better suited to the local conditions. Native trees, shrubs and groundcovers will also provide beneficial food and shelter for local wildlife. Plants should be positioned dependent on full sun and shade requirements to maximise their hardiness and resilience to drought and diseases.

All new garden beds should be covered in mulch which will reduce their reliance on watering and fertilising. Mulch can be leaves from around the garden and mature compost from the heap as a few examples. Wood chips and straw are also great but these should be used once available garden mulch is exhausted. Mulch is great at retaining water in the soil but when watering you will need approximately 30% more water per plant as some will be absorbed by the mulch. Watering should be done at the root ball and not sprayed around.

Lastly, build a compost heap or bin. All the grass clippings can go in this, also add all leaves and twigs. Add all the household kitchen waste and bury well and once fully composted this will serve as great mulch and a soil conditioner around the garden.

These landscaping ideas and gardening tips will help you start to create a low waste garden and help to minimise the amount of energy and organic material your household creates. If a low waste garden is designed correctly it will also save you time and money on watering, maintenance and fertilising.