How to nurture a healthy, sustainable garden – and boost your wellbeing too!

Enjoying the benefits of gardening and being in nature has many positives, for both our physical and mental wellbeing

Dobbies says it’s committed to inspiring us to get outside in every season – and not just for the health of gardeners, but to nurture healthy gardens too. 

As part of its #sustainabledobbies pledge, Dobbies’ experts are on a mission to educate about the importance of soil health, deliver environmentally friendly practices, eco-conscious products and provide sustainable solutions. 

The team says its keen to showcase to gardeners, of every age and skill level, how we can all play our part to help nurture the nature on our doorstep.

As part of its sustainable mission, the garden centre has recently launched a three-month trial of the UK’s first compost packaging recycling scheme.

Partnering with Evergreen Garden Care to roll out the initiative in 10 stores, garden furniture will be created from the recycled material and donated to Greenfingers, a charity that creates green spaces for terminally-ill children. 

A new survey conducted for Dobbies to uncover consumer attitudes and opinions around sustainable gardening has highlighted the importance Scottish residents place on environmentally friendly products and practices.

The Censuswide survey has revealed that:

  • Over 7 in 10 (71%) of Scots surveyed agree to making a conscious effort/go out of their way to recycle 
  • 44% of Scottish respondents agree they have made significant changes to their lifestyle to lessen their environmental impact, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic 
  • Over half (57%) of Scots surveyed said using peat-free compost is important to them  
  • 43% of Scottish respondents said using environmentally-friendly gardening products is somewhat important to them, rising to 66% when combined with those who said its very important to them 
  • Nearly two-thirds of adults in Scotland surveyed (64%) said using environmentally-friendly pest control products is important to them

Dobbies says it’s on hand to help conscious customers create greener gardens this summer and beyond.

From encouraging garden wildlife, to using greener gardening products, there is plenty you can do to help the environment around us thrive,” says Dobbies Horticulture Director Marcus Eyles.

“Gardeners are so close to nature – working with the seasons, working with the soil and the wildlife in their gardens, it’s in all our interests to look after nature and give it a gentle helping hand.

“Working from the ground up is a good place to start, as healthy soil means happy plants – and a more sustainable world.”

Dobbies’ in-store compost packaging recycling bins. Credit: Stewart Attwood

5 steps to supercharge your soil 

“To a degree, gardeners have to play the hand they’re given. There’s not much you can do to affect the dominant soil type of your garden, whether it’s clay, sand or a loamy mix,” says Marcus.

“But you do have power to improve your soil’s structure. Adding organic content over time is the best way to nourish soil so that it collects the vital nutrients your plants need, while efficiently draining away surplus water.

“Natural ways of nourishment are always best. That way, the planet benefits while your plants enjoy the best possible chance to flourish.”

1. Make compost 

Home composting is a free and satisfying way to improve your soil. If your soil is sandy, compost will add bulk; if it’s clay, compost breaks it up. Almost any garden can fit a compost heap or bin. Use roughly equal parts ‘greens’, such as weeds, grass clippings and vegetable peelings, and ‘browns’ – paper, card or prunings. 

2. Preserve peat 

Peat was a traditional ingredient in commercial compost. But in recent years concern has grown about vanishing peat habitats. Left in place, peat stores carbon and protects against climate change. Highly effective peat-free compost options are now available. At Dobbies we’re doing our bit with a range of new peat-free products. We aim to be 100% peat-free in relation to bagged compost by the end of 2021. 

3. Attract worms 

For soil health, worms are your friends. They eat rotting organic material and provide natural fertiliser. As they burrow, they create routes for oxygen and water to reach plant roots. Adding manure or compost will make your garden attractive to worms. 

4. Grow manure 

‘Green manure’ is the term for plants that you simply chop down after they’ve grown, leave to wilt and then dig into the soil. There, they release vital nutrients. Good manure plants include buckwheat, fenugreek, mustard plants and crimson clover.  

5. Use liquids 

Liquid fertilisers support plants at critical times, such as after they’ve been transplanted. They’re useful in container soil as well as beds and borders. Don’t overdo them – they’re at their most useful when your plants need a boost. 

Listen to the sustainable gardening podcast

Listen to the Dobbies Sustainable Gardening podcast, where Marcus joins host Louise Midgely to discuss the importance of sustainable gardening and how Dobbies are taking steps for a greener future. 

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