Sustainable lifestyle

Sustainable outdoor spaces: six top tips for summer

With summer finally here, it is a great time to create sustainable outdoor spaces. Images of picture-perfect patios are everywhere, however. Retailers are competing to sell us everything under the sun: paper plates, plastic plants, outdoor furniture and barbecues. 

But beautifying your outdoor space does not have to be at the expense of sustainability. Gracious gardens, sunny balconies, and urban window boxes can all be made greener at a low cost. You can make choices that benefit local wildlife and the environment. And in turn, you can enjoy better health and wellbeing. Our six top tips will help you create sustainable outdoor spaces for the summer—and beyond.

1 – Plant pollinator-friendly plants

In your flowerbed or window box, include plants that are easy to pollinate. Remember, pollinators are not just limited to bees. Beetles, hoverflies, and butterflies will all be buzzing about your hanging baskets if you add our recommended plants.

First off, one pollinator-friendly flower is lavender. Purple and fragrant, lavender is perennial. So, you can enjoy its colour and scent all year long. Beloved by fluttering moths and bumblebees, you should grow lavender from cuttings.

Next, we suggest adding Michaelmas daisies. These bonny blooms come in wide varieties and hues. What’s more, they are hardy plants and provide a haven for pollinating wildlife.

Finally, combine lavender and daisies with foxgloves, another favourite for pollinators.

Together, the three plants create a pretty “cottage garden” aesthetic. And, they have heavenly aromas. Most importantly, they will boost the biodiversity of your sustainable outdoor space.

sustainable outdoor spaces pollinator plants

2 – Add aquatic habitats in outdoor spaces

Birds and bees are famed for their pollinating powers. But, lesser-known creepy-crawlies contribute to biodiversity too—including species that live in water.

Crucially, aquatic habitats are key to sustainability. That’s because they encourage species that promote a healthy ecosystem. Examples include hoverflies, which gobble aphids, and amphibians like frogs, which eat slugs. 

Owners of small spaces can create ponds from washing-up bowls, basins, or upcycled sinks. Just place the container on your balcony, patio, or outside your front door. Then, cover the bottom of the container with six to ten centimetres of gravel.

Next, include two or three aquatic plants to start your watery wonderland. Sweet flag and yerba mansa are two of our favourites. The final step is to allow it to fill with rainwater.

Also, you can create a border for your pond by using wood, stones, bricks, or shells.

3 – Grow sustainable grasses

Grasslands provide invaluable food, shelter, and nesting material for an array of wildlife, big and small. 

Naturally, grasses have a dramatic effect in larger outdoor spaces. However, you can grow these impactful plants in pots too. But, make sure the compost is peat-free. Use our helpful guide to making compost at home here.

Note that evergreen grasses just need a quick comb in the colder months. On the other hand, non-evergreen grasses should be left to their own devices in winter. Then, cut them back in the spring.

4 – Feed the birds

Birdwatching is not just for people with large gardens.

If you lack space for trees, birdbaths, or tube feeders, you can simply add suction-cup feeders to your kitchen windows. These feeders attract blue tits, blackbirds, and even bullfinches.

Certainly, window feeders provide privileged views of visiting birds. What’s more, they are inexpensive. And, they can be used in sustainable outdoor spaces of all shapes and sizes. Just fill feeders with black oil sunflower seed and watch the birds flock to you.

However, do use patience and consideration when creating your haven. That’s because it takes time for birds to grow accustomed to feeders. Also, if cats visit your patio or garden, consider if it is safe to attract birds at all.

sustainable outdoor spaces bull finch

5 – Make a mini-meadow for summer

Wildflower meadows are a feast for the eyes. Full of fragrance, they feature wild poppies, cornflowers, dandelion, clover, and other famous British blooms. Moreover, they provide a home for bugs, buzzing insects, and small beasts.

Tragically, the UK has lost more than ninety-seven per cent of its wildflower habitats over the past century. Of course, this has come at a huge cost for nature. So, creating more sustainable outdoor spaces is important in rebuilding biodiversity in the UK.

You can create wildflower meadows in different ways. It all depends on the dimensions of your space.

First, if you have a lawn, dot in daisies and grow your meadow from there. You can buy wildflower seed mixes ready-made online. Or, ask farmers or allotment owners for mixes specific to your local area. 

Alternatively, enhance your smaller space by growing mini-meadows in pots. Experts recommend combining five flowers. This means you should combine structural plants, like allium, with pops of bright colour, like fennel.  

wildflowers

6 – Do something, however small, for sustainable outdoor spaces

Too often, we assume we lack the space or time to make a meaningful difference. Actually, a lot can be achieved in a small garden, balcony, or window box.

Adding a wildflower mini-meadow or pollinator-friendly plants boosts biodiversity. All you need is a pot or two. And creating a small aquatic ecosystem, like a basin pond, promotes sustainability. Or, you can feed the birds to help local wildlife flourish. You will be amazed at the difference using our tips can make.

On the surface, small steps seem insignificant. In reality, they are anything but. Minor tweaks to the humblest of outdoor spaces are a lifeline for nature. And these changes present huge opportunities for wildlife, ecosystems, and sustainability.

Together, we can provide crucial habitats for our vanishing flora and fauna. We can start now, with small, low-cost actions. In time, their impact can build. You might call it a butterfly effect.

Why not take the time to share this article with your network by clicking below? Then, you can inspire others to take action too.

blue butterfly

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