This week, we begin a series on ecologically responsible gardening. Gardening offers plenty of enjoyment and benefits for those who practise it but, like all human activities, it is not without its impact on the environment. The consumption of potable water, for instance, increases significantly in the summer, in large part due to people watering their lawns and gardens.
It is possible to maintain a garden without polluting or using large quantities of energy and natural resources. Take our quiz to find out what impact your gardening practices have on the environment.
1. What watering method do you use most often?
- I grow plants that require little water. I hardly ever water.I only use collected rainwater on the vegetable garden.
- I water as needed, using a sprinkler system. I adjust the flow and position the sprinklers to avoid runoff.
- I regularly water my lawn and flowerbeds using a sprinkler system. I also hose down the driveway to clean it.
2. What do you use to fertilize your ornamental plants?
- My plants don’t require much fertilizer. I add a layer of compost every two to three years, and I practise mulching1.
- I fertilize every year with compost and organic fertilizer.
- I use chemical fertilizers a lot.
3. What do you do with organic waste from your home and garden?
- I make my own compost with table scraps and woody materials. I use fallen leaves and clippings as mulch in new flowerbeds. I practise grasscyling, leaf mulching and mulching1.
- I put my table scraps and fallen leaves out on the curb to be composted by my municipality.
- I remove all dead material and put it in the garbage.
4. How do you control weeds?
- I use organic mulch on bare soil and pull up weeds by hand.
- I hoe the surface of the soil regularly and pull up weeds by hand. I sometimes use herbicides to control weeds between paving stones.
- I use herbicides regularly to destroy weeds in the lawn and between paving stones.
5. What do you do when a plant is struggling?
- I first try to identify the cause of the problem, and I intervene only if the plant is at risk of dying, using the control method with the least impact on the environment. I don’t mind when plants are slightly damaged.
- As soon as a problem appears, I intervene using the control method with the least impact on the environment, although I sometimes use more powerful methods when a gentler approach does not work. I don’t like it when plants are damaged.
- I use pesticides regularly to control pests and prevent diseases. I cannot tolerate plants being damaged.
6. How do you maintain your lawn?
- The grass varieties in my lawn require little water or fertilizer. I use a manual mower and practise grasscycling1. I never water my lawn, and I rarely fertilize it.
- I use natural fertilizers once or twice a year and pull up weeds by hand. I water my lawn during heat waves.
- I use chemical fertilizers. I pick up grass clippings and I control weeds with herbicides. I water my lawn regularly.
For each question you answered a, you score 4 points; for each answer b, you score 2 points. If your answer is c, that is worth zero points.
19-24 points: Congratulations! You are an ecologically responsible gardener!
9-18 points: Your efforts are worthy, but there is still room to improve. Look at the two or three questions on which you scored lowest and change your habits for better results.
0-8 points: Old habits die hard, but sometimes a small change is enough to produce great results. Simply enriching your soil and using mulch can reduce your water consumption and make your plants healthier.
Grasscycling: Leaving grass clippings on the lawn after mowing.
Leaf mulching: Encouraging the decomposition of dead leaves that have fallen on the lawn by shredding them into small pieces with the lawnmower.
Mulching: Allowing leaves, stems and stalks of perennials to decompose on the soil of flowerbeds in the fall.
Do you have questions about this blog?
Visit our Green Pages Or, go to the Horticultural information counter at the Botanical Garden for personalized service. One of our experts will be happy to give you more information.