Hero Image

Why Earth-Friendly Gardening Matters to All of Us

Photo: Piqsels
Photo: Piqsels

Your garden is your private space and also part of the wider world. Using techniques in harmony with the natural environment, Earth-friendly gardeners protect natural resources and boost biodiversity while minimizing waste and pollutants. Relying on these methods results in beautiful, healthier landscapes and encourages sustainability -- allowing you to meet your gardening needs today while ensuring future generations can meet theirs.

 

Principles of UC Marin Master Gardener Earth-friendly gardening

Nurture soil: build, maintain, and protect the life in it.
Encourage biodiversity: protect and extend Marin's unique plant communities. 
Mitigate climate change: conserve water and energy, reduce waste, and sequester carbon.
Protect wildlife and the environment: create habitat for insects, birds, mammals, and other living creatures and avoid toxic chemicals that may harm them or the environment. 

Bringing it down to Earth: what can you do?
Getting in sync with nature's processes can provide clues to managing your own landscape. What can you do to mirror nature? Start small. Every action that uses these principles inches us toward a healthier environment. Earth-Friendly Gardening is about collective action – one garden at a time, one gardener at a time. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:

image015
Nurture and protect the soil
 

Healthy soil contains millions of living organisms that provide the nutrients that plants need to thrive. Photo: Ellefson, unsplash
Healthy soil contains millions of living organisms that provide the nutrients that plants need to thrive. Photo: Ellefson, unsplash

• Develop healthy soil and protect the life in it.
• Add compost to improve soil texture and “feed” the soil. 
• Mulch to keep soil covered, conserve moisture, and reduce weeds.
• Protect soil from disturbance, compaction, and erosion.
• Sequester carbon by maintaining healthy levels of organic material in the soil.

 

image016
Choose plants with care

Growing native plants extends Marin's natural beauty into your garden while protecting our unique biodiversity.  Photo: Las Pilitas
Growing native plants extends Marin's natural beauty into your garden while protecting our unique biodiversity. Photo: Las Pilitas


• Understand and adapt your garden to our local climate and your microclimate.
• Grow California native plants to protect and enhance Marin's unique biodiversity.
• Use low-water plants native to other Mediterranean climate regions that also welcome pollinators and natural enemies.  
• Remove invasive plants that overrun native species and cause other environmental problems. 

 

image017
Conserve Water and Energy
 

Help mitigate climate change by reducing the use of fossil fuels in the garden. Photo: Ronaldo de Oliveira, unsplash
Help mitigate climate change by reducing the use of fossil fuels in the garden. Photo: Ronaldo de Oliveira, unsplash

• Incorporate permeable surfaces and other rainwater retention strategies to minimize supplemental water use and to allow rainwater to slow, sink, and spread into the soil.
Irrigate according to plant needs.
• Help mitigate climate change by reducing the use of fossil fuel: switch to manual or electric tools, shop locally, and recycle and reuse containers and other materials where possible.
• Compost garden and food waste to keep it out of landfill

 

image018
Protect Wildlife
 and the environment 

Protect Marin's precious watershed by avoiding pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Photo: Karen Gideon
Protect Marin's precious watershed by avoiding pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Photo: Karen Gideon

• Protect and enhance wildlife corridors by providing habitat for insects, birds, and other animals
• Practice responsible pest management to solve garden problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment. 
Reduce the use of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizer
• Use organic methods and materials whenever possible.
• Keep Marin's watershed healthy by conserving water and preventing toxins from entering it.
• Use Fire-smart planning and maintenance techniques that help protect the landscape and surrounding areas.