Creating Ecological Gardens – it’s not “Mission Impossible”

Life is a series of mistakes commonly referred to by some as ‘experience’

In Australia, we tend to take many lifestyle benefits for granted. We expect that we have abundant resources available for us to use, and we work and play surrounded by natural beauty. However, environmental issues such as climate change, depleting water resources, and habitat loss will all impact on this in the future.

Change is in the wind, with a growing awareness that the way we do things needs to be different if we want to save any of these lifestyle benefits to pass on to future generations. Unfortunately for most of us, change is difficult to implement – especially when we talk about personal lifestyle changes.

We are good at implementing community change to benefit our future, but when it comes to personal lifestyle changes we all seem to shrug our shoulders and say that the problem is too complex. We then carry on with business as normal – simultaneously patting ourselves on the back for the good work we are doing in other areas!

Ecological gardens – It’s not mission impossible

We must learn to act locally as well as globally.

The easiest way to do this is in the home. Positive changes have already been made with recycling and efficient energy usage in the home. However, in my opinion the Southern Highlands biggest ‘shame file’ relates to the lack of environmental awareness in the home garden.

A traditional Southern Highlands European style garden requires huge inputs of energy and water to sustain and maintain it. Havens for exotic pests and diseases are created, putting further pressure on our local and flora and fauna. They are highly modified landscapes containing mainly exotic plant species providing minimal benefit to our local ecology.

Creating an ecological garden is easy. Ecological gardens are not ugly. When well designed and maintained, they provide personal pleasure and satisfaction- both to you and native birds and other species of wildlife. The energy our gardens consume should provide benefit to our local ecology and not undermine its very existence.

The way to convert your old garden, or create a new ecological garden is simple.

The first step is to sit back and ask yourself: “Is my garden water wise? Does my garden provide suitable habitat? Do I use excessive petrochemical insecticides and fuel?” Assess your garden critically. Try not to go into denial.

The second step is to resist your urges, which satisfy personal issues at the expense of sustainability.

Ask “What is more important – how my garden looks or how it contributes to its surroundings?”

The third step is to start researching and planning. This process may take a long time.

The fourth step is to stop doing things automatically, and think about why you do it – and is there a better way? Sometimes the better way is to resist your urge and do nothing. For example maybe you should not mow the lawn this week and allow seeds to develop for birds to eat and for the grass to grow healthier and stronger.

The fifth step is to react when you need to react. Don’t put off doing things which really need doing. Unfortunately to be able to do this properly you need to have step three implemented which takes time. Some say that this is a ‘Mission Impossible’, as plans are only plans which are to be changed as circumstances evolve. Personally, I like plans that evolve one step at time and include risk assessments.

The sixth and final step is to have faith in what you are doing. Life continually evolves, and, as you are alive, you also will continue to evolve. Be confident by understanding that it is OK to be different by working for the future. Life is a series of mistakes commonly referred to by some as ‘experience’. We all know hindsight is a wonderful thing, and as many clients have said to me: “If only I had done this 20 years ago.”

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