Gardening is a huge hobby in Britain and most of us enjoy the opportunity to potter about tending our own little piece of ground. Back gardens represent an important space in all the family’s lives and whether yours is principally for outdoor entertaining, growing flowers, watching wildlife or the kids to play in – or even a typical mix of all four – there’s plenty of scope to be green as well as green fingered.
So, are you an eco-friendly gardener? Are your kids? Here’s a quick quiz to find out. There aren’t any right or wrong answers and it won’t take long, so play it as a family, or do it individually and put all your answers together at the end – you might be surprised at how much you think about the environment without even realising.
1.Which of these best describes your garden?
- a) Well manicured and very formal.
- b) A bit wild, and doubles as a playground.
- c) Largely given over to decking/patio and hard landscaping.
2. Do you have any nesting boxes ?
- a) Yes one or two well chosen ones.
- b) Of course, different kinds along with bat boxes and bee logs too!
- c) No, but it’s something on the list to get.
3. Do you use pesticides or weed-killers?
- a) Yes, but only when it’s necessary.
- b) Not if we can possibly avoid it.
- c) Yes, always.
4. How would you describe your pond?
- a) Crystal clear.
- b) A bit overgrown.
- c) An attractive water feature.
5. Do your kids grow their own vegetables or fruit?
- a) A few.
- b) Loads.
- c) No, not really.
6. What do you do to encourage wildlife ?
- a) We feed the birds in the winter, that sort of thing.
- b) The whole garden’s set up to be attractive to wildlife.
- c) Nothing particularly, but we’re always pleased when we get a visit.
7. How do you plan your planting scheme?
- a) To coordinate with the overall garden design.
- b) We try to pick native plants or ones that are good for wildlife.
- c) Year round interest and price.
8. What do you do with your old, unwanted plant pots?
- a) Throw them out – can’t risk disease!
- b) Wash them carefully and reuse them.
- c) Give them away to friends and neighbours.
9. What do you do with grass clippings?
- a) Take them to the civic amenity site.
- b) Compost them along with any other garden or kitchen waste.
- c) We don’t really have much of a lawn.
10.Where do you buy most of your garden supplies?
- a) The closest big garden centre
- b) Our local garden centre.
- c) Wherever has the items we want at the best price.
11. How do you light your garden?
- a) Energy efficient mains lighting.
- b) Solar lights / low voltage systems.
- c) Standard garden lights.
12. Which of these would be LEAST likely to be seen in your garden?
- a) Aphids
- b) Perfect plants with no slug damage.
- c) A log pile
There’s not a lot wrong with your family’s approach to gardening – and certainly nothing that’s going to have too much of a negative environmental impact. Your garden carbon footprint isn’t quite as small as it could be, and there are probably one or two things that would improve your patch for wildlife, but on the whole, it sounds like a responsible and fairly sustainable approach to balancing your family’s evident love of gardening with your desire to do your bit for the planet.
Are you an eco-friendly gardener? Well, yes! To tell the truth, it rather sounds as if you invented the idea – there’s not an item on the tick list that you seem to have missed. It’s great that you all feel so positive about the contribution you can make outside your own back door – just be careful that it doesn’t take over and end up limiting your gardening enjoyment. It is supposed to be fun, after all!
You’re certainly eco-aware, but when it comes to gardening, the wider environment isn’t the be-all and end-all of your concerns. That’s not a problem of course; nothing you’re doing – or not doing – is going to do much harm to the planet and having any kind of garden brings environmental benefits, so there’s no cause for concern! There are undoubtedly things you could do to encourage wildlife more, perhaps use a few less routine chemicals and maybe add a bit of solar lighting, but all in good time. The best gardens develop slowly; there’s no reason why an eco-friendly garden should be any different!
Whatever kind of gardeners you have in your family – enjoy your garden however you use it.