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How to make your garden greener

There are lots of ways to make your garden more environmentally friendly, and in doing so you’ll encourage more wildlife, do your bit for climate change, and reduce your gardening costs too.

Here are some of our top green tips for green-fingered gardeners:

Use less water

A garden needs a lot of water and in hot, dry weather it can be easy to expend up to half of your total water usage on it. Lawns are especially thirsty, and a sprinkler can spray as much water in an hour as a family of four uses in a day.

The UK Government has said if we continue to use the amount of water we do now, by 2050 the amount of water available in England could be reduced by 10 to 15 percent.

So, if you want to reduce your own garden water consumption, use a water butt to collect rainwater. This way you can water your plants from a watering can, rather than a hosepipe.

Often plants need less water than you think. Try to water thoroughly just once a week with one can per plant, rather than little and often. This encourages the roots to grow down in search of moisture, and they will be stronger and healthier for it, too.

Go wild

Your entire garden doesn’t need to look completely unkempt, but by leaving a section to grow wild and letting nature take its course, you’ll have created a more attractive environment for all things wild to live in.

Plant trees

If you’ve got the space, plant a tree. They’re brilliant at storing carbon: a medium-size English oak will contain about 500kg of carbon – about the same amount of carbon as one person flying to New York and back.

Obviously, you might not be able to plant an oak tree in your garden, but every little helps and the Woodland Trust has advice on what species might suit you.

Make mulch, fertiliser, and compost

Don’t let your waste go to waste: chip off fallen branches, bark, hedge, plant, and tree trimmings and use them as mulch on top of the soil. It will reduce the amount of water you need, prevent weeds from growing, and protect plant roots.

Then pile up grass cuttings, veg waste, shredded newspaper, cardboard, and even vacuum cleaner contents and leave them to decompose. In six months to a year, you’ll have lots of lovely compost.

This will also help you go peat-free when composting. Peatlands are essential to carbon capture – they hold more carbon than all the world’s forests combined. But if you don’t make your own, go for peat-free versions when you’re buying compost.

You can even make your own fertiliser too. Eggshells, banana skins, coffee grounds, and fireplace ash can be added to the mix, but it’s best to do some research first to work out what you need to help your garden grow.

Go native

Not surprisingly, native plants are better suited to our climate and so require less looking after, less water, and fewer fertilisers and pesticides than glamorous species from abroad.

Wildlife generally prefer them too, for both living in and as a source of food.

Grow your own food

Rather than having your tomatoes trucked from Italy and your lettuce flew in from Spain, why not grow your own and reduce your food miles? Even if you’re not green-fingered and don’t have a greenhouse, carrots, and potatoes aren’t too difficult. And while planting apple and cherry trees might take longer to get a return from, they shouldn’t require too much looking after.

Make hard choices

Any parts of your garden covered with hard standing, such as paving slabs, brick, and concrete, reduce the opportunity for plants to grow and water to soak into the soil. In fact, permeable paving is now a planning requirement for new driveways.

That doesn’t mean you have to dig up your existing driveway though. The RHS has calculated that if 30 million gardeners pulled up a paving slab and planted 1m2 of perennials, depending on the type of plants, the carbon stored would equate to the amount of heating used by up to one million homes - for a year.

Also, when you are designing areas with hard standing or landscaping, there are lots of sustainable materials like FSC timber, recycled aggregate paving, and recycled hardwearing plastics. And reclamation yards are great for finding discarded building materials for raised beds, fences, and borders.

Pot nots

Those black plastic pot plants come in are almost always non-recyclable and end up in landfills, so try and reuse them as many times as you can, or ask the garden centre if they offer recyclable wrapping paper.

When you’re sowing seeds or young plants, you could use egg boxes and the cardboard inner tube of toilet rolls instead. Plant them in the ground, and they will biodegrade over time too.

How to be eligible for a green mortgage

If you’re able to improve the energy efficiency rating of your home too, you may be eligible for a green mortgage. If you’d like to find out more about green mortgages, read our article here.

Green mortgages reward you for buying or owning an energy-efficient home. You can even be eligible if you make energy-efficient improvements and renovations to your home.

The Government is making a push to be more green and is expecting all properties in the UK to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of at least ‘C’ by 2035. If you’d like to be eligible for a green mortgage product, your home will need an EPC rating of ‘A’ or ‘B’ to be eligible.

A green mortgage could reward you with cheaper rates for properties, or even cashback when buying or remortgaging a home with a high EPC rating.

If you’re making your garden greener, your home could be a good place to look next. Whilst making your garden greener may not necessarily make you eligible for a green mortgage, if done right, it will save you money, help save the environment, and reward you with a glorious garden full of plants and wildlife.

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The fee is up to 1% but a typical fee is 0.3% of the amount borrowed.

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