Plants & Pets
At first it may seem that a patio- it can be a terrace, backyard or small open space outside your house or flat- is devoid of wildlife. But look again, you may be surprised at what you find. If it is sunny, butterflies may be basking. At night many insects will be drawn to lit windows, which in turn attract predators such as other insects and bats. If you grow plants in pots and containers, insects and birds will visit for the flowers and seeds, and small creatures may be sheltering in the cool and damp underneath.
Now, how should you go about it? Ensure proper drainage for rainwater to prevent water damage. It should slope away from your home to keep your foundation and basement free from moisture that can lead to mold and mildew. Try permeable pavers instead of going for concrete patios as these promote proper water drainage. Growing indigenous ground covers is an excellent alternative to lawn or concrete. It avoids the fertilization and carbon footprint of a lawn and proves a greener and more aesthetically-appealing option that requires no mowing or watering. Utilizing your patio space for container vegetable gardens will add to your curb appeal. They will provide a healthy source of organically grown food and look good too. Focus on upcycled or second-hand patio furniture rather than new sets. This keeps items out of the landfill and reduces your carbon footprint. Anything that isn’t harmful to the environment is considered eco-friendly. Eco-friendly patios use sustainable materials, renewable energy, and, typically, lots of nature.
Plant deciduous trees around your patio which will provide shade in the summer and let the winter sunshine it. Planting trees improves your air quality and reduces your carbon footprint. Plant plenty of pots with native species as these attract more wildlife. Many plants, bulbs and small shrubs will grow happily in a container if fed and watered regularly. Make a mini pond in a water-tight tub. You’ll see lots of interesting insects. Allow some plants to grow in the cracks. It will soften hard lines and will be good for creepy crawlies. Insects may hibernate in patio pots. Try not to tidy up dead stems and seed heads until spring. Many advantages come with having an eco-friendly patio. Low maintenance, energy and water preservation, health improvement, long-term cost reduction, and environmental improvements are all amazing benefits; however, there are some disadvantages to taking the eco-friendly route.
Although going eco-friendly can save you money in the long run, it costs money to save money. Installing equipment such as solar panels will eventually reduce your electricity bill, but the average start-up is costly. Also, it’s more time-consuming to incorporate environmentally-safe equipment into your patio. However, in the long run, it’s worthy to invest. Start building your green patio by coming up with a design plan. This plan will help you go about creating your eco-friendly patio step by step. The first thing you should do when making your design plan is to create a list of “must-haves” and “wants”. Your “must-haves” list will be things you will not compromise on including your green patio. Your “wants” list are things that you want in your patio space but are willing to give up if need be. Incorporating solar panels within your eco-friendly patio not only benefits your patio space but your entire home.
Now coming to sustainable products. Sustainable products are products created from recycled materials that do not harm the environment throughout their life cycle–which is until they are recycled into something else. Sustainable materials suitable for your patio could be things such as artificial grass, stainless steel, aluminum, reclaimed or FSC-certified wood, or anything made from recycled materials. Your patio isn’t truly “eco-friendly” if everything in it isn’t, including furniture. The good thing is that nowadays, companies are making more of an effort to produce furniture that built to last. Teak and eucalyptus are common eco-friendly patio furniture options due to their durability, strength, and aesthetic appeal. However, furniture made of stainless steel, aluminum, and synthetic wicker is considered eco-friendly as well. Keep in mind that not all synthetic wicker is eco-friendly. There are organic options for patio rugs available. These rugs are made of eco-friendly materials, which are renewable too. Sisal, coir, cotton, jute, bamboo and wool are some popular choices to consider. Also, repurposing existing furniture helps the environment by preventing new furniture from being made just to sit in it.
Using nature to decorate your outdoor living space embodies the idea of being “eco-friendly”. By using natural resources to decorate, you limit the amount of non-biodegradable products being produced in the environment. Choose plants that match your colour palette, incorporate a stone or dirt walkway throughout your patio space, and even add a small pond within your eco-friendly patio to emphasize the connection with nature. When planting flowers in your eco-friendly patio, it is best to use plants native to your area. By decorating using local plants, you cut down on your water usage since they thrive in their native environment. You also reduce the amount of unnatural gas being released into the air caused by foreign plant transportation. You could also spruce up your eco-friendly patio by starting a garden. It adds colour, saves you money, and saves the environment by reducing the number of people buying fruits and vegetables grown using pesticides and unnatural fertilizers. Synthetic grass is also a great “green” option to add to your eco-friendly patio. The fact that it’s synthetic reduces your water usage throughout the year, and it keeps your space looking perfect all year long. When it comes to choosing eco-friendly lighting for your patio, it is very easy. Just choose LED or solar-powered lights. These types of lights don’t emit any gases into the atmosphere which is saving the environment. The benefits of LED lighting are that they use less electricity than conventional light bulbs, and they have a longer lifespan. LED lights are your best option when it comes to lighting large areas or places where the Sun doesn’t shine. Solar-powered lights are also a great option for your patio because they are completely eco-friendly. They don’t use any electricity which is great for your electric bill, and they can be used as long as they get enough sunlight. They provide your patio with a warm, soft, and homey feel. The only downside is that the light they emit is inconsistent and doesn’t last late into the night or early morning.
Collecting rainwater using barrels is a great way to cut down your water consumption and water bill by reducing the amount of tap water you use. You can repurpose this collected water and use it to water the plants within your eco-friendly patio. Incorporating a barrel into your patio space also adds a touch of rustic style to your outdoor living area. There are many different ways you can go about upcycling within your eco-friendly patio, like adding different compost bins to reduce the amount of waste you’re releasing back into the environment. Also, by adding a compost pile, you reduce your food waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your growing plants and vegetables. In short, we love a fine, well-manicured lawn but we also love the vibrancy and life that wildflowers and wild grasses bring when left to their own devices. Allowing parts of your green space to grow wild creates biodiversity, inviting insects, bees and pollinators to explore and thrive in previously uncharted ground.