How to reduce garden waste during lockdown and beyond

Spring is a prime time to prepare the garden, whether that’s pruning, mowing or taming our green spaces, decluttering the garden shed, or preparing soil to plant new flowerbeds. And with coronavirus lockdown, even more of us have turned our attention to our outdoor spaces at the moment. But is there a waste-free way to clean up our garden?

Compost heap
The most sustainable method is to turn your garden waste into a compost heap. ‘It might sound obvious, but there really is no better way to be sustainable than a good old compost heap,’ say The Greenhouse People. ‘Making your own heap from kitchen and green waste is the perfect way to make throwing things away guilt-free.

‘Layers is the ultimate way to get the most out of your compost – regularly add alternating layers of green (nitrogen-rich) materials like grass cuttings, weeds and uncooked vegetable peelings, and brown (carbon-rich) materials like leaves, wood chippings, shredded paper, cardboard and sticks allows the compost to truly thrive.’

Composting renews the waste into soil, which you can feed back into your garden, and encourage new plants to flourish: ‘In theory, this means constantly recycling your produce in the greenest way.’

Worm bin
You can improve the quality of your plants and crops, and support wildlife in the process, by creating a worm bin from your garden waste.

‘Earthworms have a whole host of benefits: they feed on plant debris, release nutrient-rich waste to boost growth rates, and loosen and aerate the soil to promote good drainage,’ say The Greenhouse People. ‘Be careful not to feed your worms meat scraps or woody material though.’

You can add small amounts of garden waste such as annual weeds, leaves, and other soft green material in a worm bin, as well as raw and cooked vegetables and teabags and coffee grounds.

Reuse before you refuse
We’re always talking about recycling, upcycling and repurposing your household items to put them to good use – and the same applies here.

Before you chuck anything out, think of all the creative ways you can reuse it first. If you’ve got cuttings of wood use these as plant labels (write the name of plants using a permanent marker), or throw dried out twigs onto the BBQ or in your chiminea to keep it burning, or even if you have broken plant pots you can reuse them for edging.

Alternatively, for old rubbish plastic sacks, give them a new purpose by using them to line hanging baskets of flowers used at your front door or in your garden.

DIY leftovers
Doing a bit of DIY at home? Reuse old pieces of furniture or accessories instead of sending it to landfill. For any bathroom and kitchen renovations, if you’re suddenly left with old bathtubs and sinks, you could make a real statement with it in your garden by using it as a quirky planter.

For any disused wooden crates and pallets, you can pop all of those newly-bought plants onto it to use as a base, or you could prop the crates and pallets vertically against the wall to create an eye-catching tiered structure for your small plants. Another alternative is to place them horizontally on the floor and fill with soil to create your very own miniature vegetable patch. The same goes for old car tyres, they can make great quirky planters.

Embrace wabi-sabi
‘Wabi-sabi, a Japanese philosophy meaning an acceptance of the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death can help you cut down on your garden waste,’ explain The Greeenhouse People. ‘The key to practicing wabi-sabi in the garden is balancing nature and nurture. Before getting to work in the garden, think about what actually needs doing and what can be left to its own devices.

‘What better way to chill out than knowing your garden can flourish on its own. So, throw your rake and weeding gloves away, sit back and relax in your new imperfect garden.’