Guide to Green Gardening Habits for a Sustainable Room Outside

To be truly green at home, we need to take that environmental good behaviour outdoors. Here are just a few pointers for some eco-friendly gardening this summer

Did you realise that by not mowing your lawn periodically, you create the potential for ten times more activity by bees? British conservation charity Plantlife, working nationally and internationally, is patronised by HRH The Prince of Wales, and owns some 4,500 acres across England, Scotland and Wales.

The team conducted research on uncut lawns over May of 2019, that would otherwise have been a mono-culture of largely perfect, verdant rye grass.

The results were astonishing, even in partially mown "Mohican" lawns. 80% of lawns supported the equivalent of around 400 bees a day from the nectar sugar produced by flowers such as dandelion, white clover and selfheal. 20% of lawns (dubbed "superlawns") were found to be supporting 10 times as many - up to 4000 bees a day.

This citizen-scientist initiative revealed that the highest production of flowers and nectar sugar was on lawns cut once every four weeks where daisies, white clover, germander, creeping buttercups and speedwell flourished, "boosting nectar production tenfold".

Putting away the mower? What a sacrifice. Try leaving the bulk of your grass alone for four weeks at a time, cutting paths to reach beds and amusing frolicking kids during your meadow-land project.

There's still time right up into early June to plant a wildlife meadow at home, broadcast out into the lawn or in a container, and your local garden centre can offer a suitable mix.

Go to Blooming Native for 100% Wildflower Native Irish seeds designed to support the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan (includes Lady's Bedstraw, Yarrow, Teasle and many almost forgotten species). From €5 for a 6g pack (more economical by quantity). bloomingnative.ie

Xeriscaping, taken from the Greek "xera" for dry, allows you to cultivate arid prairie-like areas that wo not rely on the hose-pipe to flourish.

Planting focuses on drought-tolerant alpines and Mediterranean plants along with judiciously chosen grasses, succulents and even cactuses that can withstand our rather abrupt climatic shift from sunshine to soggy.

Retaining walls and gravel gardens on raised, well-draining soils and slopes are chic and easy to maintain with minimal irrigation, and can be heady with fragrance with the inclusion of useful herbs including sage, oregano and rosemary.

Otherwise treat water as a precious commodity in the garden. Grey water recycling valves are available at most good DIY stores for reusing water from washing machines and even the shower but only if it's bleach-free and mixed up with fully biodegradable substances.

Sadly, much of what we use must go into the septic tank or wastewater treatment system. Water plants individually using the trigger spray on your hose if you are permitted. Water in the morning or evening directly beneath plant leaves down to the earth where it's needed.

Set your lawn mower to mulch rather than collect the grass, blind weeds and preserve moisture with mulches that degrade straight into the ground, and keep everything ticking over with sustainable Irish bi-products like Atlantic Gold seaweed fertilisers. Fruithill Farm do a good range of non-animal origin fertilizers, fruithillfarm.com

Every home with gutters can feature a water barrel. With simple green recycled plastic 100l models on a stand to lift the tap to a good working level, from €30, to genuine whiskey barrels there's really no excuse. If you want the whole oak nostalgia catch Beara Water Services offer ex-distillery oak casks starting at €65, stands from €20, €25 and they also offer barrel repair and recycling to planters, bearawaterservices.ie.

A larger roof can serve two or more standard barrels (around €100-€210 a piece), and linking barrels of the same design is simple. A diverter kit matched to your down-pipe profile will take water from the roof of your house/shed or outbuildings straight to a storage butt. Prices from €22 at thegardenshop.ie, ecostore.ie,or any good gardening centre or DIY outlet. Ensure the dimensions of the down-pipe suit the water saving kit before ordering.

Even if you have occasional visiting children or grandchildren coming into your garden; cover the water butt safely. A youngster can drown in as little as 5cm of water, so put safety measure in place around any ponded, pooled, flowing or collected water.

Patio life over the summer is seriously compromised after dark and during the regular rhythm of cloudy, breezy Irish days. Staying warm does not have to cost the Earth. Propane gas heaters are extraordinarily wasteful and not effective in any sort of breezy conditions.

A 12.5kW gas heater will produce almost 35kg of CO2 before the fuel runs out, and a standard propane patio cylinder runs out fast, in 10-13 hours (Energy Savings Trust, UK). The French energy think-tank Negawatt, estimates that using five propane heaters to heat a 75sq m patio from November to March will emit as much CO2 as a car driven around the world three times. This year sees the banning of outdoor heaters of any kind for bar and restaurant terraces across France.

There are three alternatives to pure fossil fuels, bioLPG, wood and infrared electric heating. Calor's bioLPG is made in part from renewable waste, residues and plant oils.

Producing less particulate emission compared to fossil fuels and given its means of production even burned outside and releasing greenhouse gases, it at least approaches carbon-neutral status.

Electric short-wave infrared heat technology is emissions-free, silent, weatherproof and simply plugs-in through a suitable RCD powerpoint suited to outdoor devices.

Modern electric IR (as opposed to the old blinding halogen technology) uses as little as 2kWh to run (so at 20c per kWh that about 40c per hour). It does not heat the air around you, IR heats you once you are in a good range of around 2m-3m of the IR light fitting, parasol or fireplace style unit. Prices from €270 for the Herschel Performance Miami Electric Patio Heater Black 2kW with remote control that heats up in under 15 seconds, nesbits.ie

Firepits and chimeneas burn wood or charcoal and at least outside you wo not be breathing in as much of the biomass particles that have placed domestic wood fires and even stoves increasingly under suspicion for respiratory ill health.

For partying, my pick would be the Eva Solo Fire Globe, a stunning tilted Danish form that acts as an effective windbreak at €299, finnishdesignshop.com. Always burn good kiln dry wood.

Finally, apart from snuggle blankets draped over every chair to prepare for a chill or cooler evening temperatures, look out for new microwavable heated cushions now growing in popularity as knees knock across Europe, suitable to stuff directly up your geansaí if needs be.

Guide to Green Gardening Habits for a Sustainable Room Outside 1

Gardens for all year long?

you can add snowdrops that bloom in late winter and early spring. but, I live in zone 5a... might be different for you

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