Green Fingers Guide: How to create a zero waste garden

Creating a green corner in your backyard is a lovely way to relax and bring a piece of nature closer to home. But if you are thinking about the environment at large and you also want a low-maintenance yard, you might get interested in finding ways to make your space a zero-waste garden. Despite how lovely of a hobby it is, gardening can actually create a lot of waste if you don’t garden mindfully.

There are some easy ways that you can make sure that your garden is zero waste (or as close to it as possible). Zero waste doesn’t have to be an unachievable high but can instead be a goal that you gradually work towards as you grow your garden.

Here are our top 6 tips on producing a zero waste garden:

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

1. Join plant exchange groups

One great way to make sure that none of your extra seedlings or seeds go to waste is to join local plant groups where you can exchange plants and seeds. Often, you have to buy plants or seeds in larger quantities than you need, which can be very wasteful. Joining this type of group gives you access to people who may have the seeds you are looking for. 

This means that you are helping to reduce waste on both ends. On one side, you are not wasting anything that can be planted as you are giving away your extras. On the other side, you take what others cannot keep so that they are not wasted. It’s a win-win situation!

2. Eat the whole plant!

We grow many plants in the garden that you can eat more of than you might think. In fact, some things that you already grow are edible, and you might not even know it.

For example, the leafy carrot tops are edible, and the leaves of pepper plants are as well! If you grow vegetables, most parts of the plants can either be eaten or used to turn into some type of beneficial cleaner or fertilizer for your garden. Take time to learn about each one of your plants and how you can use those plants in their entirety.

3. Make sure you compost

No matter how mindful you are about planting, you are always going to have plant waste from time to time. Weeds, grass, overgrown flowers, and seedling thinnings need to go somewhere, so why not turn them into something beneficial?

Learn about composting and how you can use different types of composting methods for different purposes. From fertilizing the soil to creating compost tea, there is a lot that you can do simply by handling your plant and food scraps in the right way.

4. Create a storage area

One of the best ways to reach a zero-waste point in gardening is to stockpile traditionally trashed items. Hold on to items such as the plastic pots new plants are often sold in and store them in a convenient storage area. Then, make sure that you reuse these items!

You can even use old tennis shoes, empty soup cans, and glass mason jars as planters for different types of plants and seedlings while working in your garden. If you don’t already have somewhere specific to store items that you will work to reuse, create this space so that it is easier to be eco-friendly while gardening.

5. Go reusable when possible

Think creatively about what you can reuse and how you can choose to reuse!

For example, don’t use garden labeling sticks that must be thrown out after one year. Instead, use reusable garden tags. Or, better yet, make your own from scraps at home. This way you are using up something that would otherwise go to a landfill.

From garden stakes to plant covers and garden pots, you can create many parts of your garden from reusable items you might have previously overlooked.

6. Beyond the garden: Patios, workstations, and more

As you start spending more time in your garden, you might want to set up a new patio space to enjoy your garden. And why not create a workspace where you can prep things for and from your garden with ease.

First, focus on finding ways to upcycle items that you are getting rid of if you are clearing anything out. Break down unwanted furniture into components that can be reused if you cannot donate or sell it. Nothing should go to the landfill.

When looking for new pieces, focus your search for inspiration at thrift stores and even in dumpsters. You never know what you might find, and this is a great way to create less waste in the way you build. The less you need to buy new, the better. 


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