25 Sustainable Garden Ideas To Start Eco-Friendly Lifestyle

Sustainable garden ideas gain popularity as many people apply the eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle. Few of them have tried native plant gardening to invite pollinators and wildlife to their garden. Some of them also grow their own food to reduce carbon emissions. Apart from that, arid plants like cacti, succulents, and agave are also getting increasingly popular because they don’t require a lot of water and only a little maintenance.

This trend is such a relief because today’s modern society cares more about the earth. They understand that sustainability can be a solution so that natural sources, such as water and soil, are available for them and future generations. Hence, their job is to take care of the priceless treasures dearly. Suppose you want to participate in this campaign. In that case, you can adopt one of the best sustainable garden ideas below. There is no need for vast land, knowing the point of an earth-friendly garden is to secure the sources as much as possible.

However, we would love to walk you through the meaning of a sustainable garden before jumping further into the front yard or backyard ideas with sustainability concepts. What is a sustainable garden?

What Is A Sustainable Garden?

When it comes to a sustainable garden, the thing that pops up in your mind, perhaps, is a vegetable garden design with greens and 100% organic. Well, that’s not entirely incorrect. However, sustainable garden refers to an approach that applies natural gardening techniques with minor to no waste. Thus, it doesn’t have negative impacts on our earth and environment.

sustainable garden ideas
Sustainable Garden

People who apply sustainable, zero-waste gardening are generally cautious in selecting plants. They will only grow those that require less water, are relatively pest and disease resistant, and doing great amidst climate change. Even if they have to deal with gardening issues, they will opt for natural options for the eco garden, like using companion plants to deter pests, adding compost to fertilize the soil, and mulching to keep the roots warm in the winter.

Why Is Sustainable Gardening Important?

Even though the impact is not visible directly, adopting zero-waste gardening with sustainability is a fantastic movement to reduce the negative effects of climate change. How so?

An eco garden will only use a few chemical gardening products, such as NPK fertilizers, which can stress the roots and eventually harm the plants, making them prone to pests. Not only that, but massive land use also depletes soil nutrients and increases water usage to cover the vast area where the plants grow.

sustainable garden ideas
Container Gardening Pots with Basil, Rosemary, Parsley, Oregano and Tomato Plants

In addition to this chemical fertilizer, some also use insecticides to kill pests which will sadly also kill beneficial insects, causing an imbalance in the ecosystem. Furthermore, massive land use for vegetable gardens can also lower nutrients in the soil if there is no crop rotation.

On the other hand, sustainable gardening and green garden ideas offer vital aspects that can prevent and reduce this problem. Those key features are:

  • Reducing water use to protect natural sources.
  • Plant native plants and grow an edible garden to invite wildlife and/or reduce carbon emissions.
  • Minimize land use with raised beds (e.g., for vegetable garden design).
  • Using permaculture garden design and applying crop rotation.
  • Choose 100% organic and natural options to deal with gardening issues (e.g., pests, diseases).

How Do You Grow Sustainably?

Growing plants in a sustainable garden is easy. You only need to know the organic gardening tips to start growing and maintaining the plants. It uses natural gardening techniques and reduces chemical products use. Before rushing to plant greens or flowers, the vital thing to do is to determine the planting location. We strongly encourage only using narrow areas.

This will make it easier for you to keep up, including watering, trimming, and checking. It is also better to use raised beds because they can accommodate various plants in one go. Raised beds also minimize water and land use, thus saving your budget and the earth.

sustainable garden ideas
Grow Sustainably

Apart from that, you can monitor the soil. Soil checking is crucial to determine the type of soil, pH, and other conditions to ensure the plants thrive. If the ground needs nutrients, you can add compost according to the requirements. Another vital part is plant selection. Choose native plants as they are hardy and generally adaptable to growing conditions. 

In case you want to grow veggies, choose low-maintenance ones that are friendly to companion plants. Companion plants are great for deterring pests and inviting pollinators. You can also opt for a permaculture garden design to provide a safe shelter for wildlife while allowing you to harvest your own food. By doing that, you are participating in reducing carbon emissions and balancing the ecosystem.

Pollinator Friendly Landscape Designs

Knowing one of the key features of a sustainable garden is maintaining the ecosystem, these sustainable garden ideas will instantly become your favorites! They will lure butterflies, bees, and birds and wildlife in general effortlessly to your garden as it is rich in nectar-producing bloomers.

Besides, some green garden ideas below also include vegetables with companion plants you can adopt to create backyard landscaping. Wanna try one? Let’s get into the list!

1. Contemporary Pollinator Garden

sustainable garden ideas
Source: Pinterest (@mthrearthliving)

In case you are interested in living sustainably, you can try sustainable gardening for beginners, just like this one! This contemporary pollinator garden showcases purple head blooms that grow alternately with the fluffy white ones on top of tall stalks.

With these flowers, butterflies and bees will be easily attracted to suck on nectars and feed on the pollen. That way, you will have a long-lasting bloom through the season, thanks to the pollination. To reduce the water use, you can spread gravel to cover the soil.

2. Dense Butterfly Garden

sustainable garden ideas
Source: Pinterest (@finegardening)

Like humans, pollinators will feel homey when they are familiar to flowers or plants that grow around your home. For that reason, you better grow native flowering plants that are loaded with nectars to invite these beauties.

You can plant coneflowers, English lavenders, and crimson bottlebrush that are a few of butterflies favorites. Besides, these bloomers are drought-tolerant, so you won’t make your hands busy with maintenance and reduce water use. It will be best to grow them alternately to create an amazing sight in your front yard.

3. English Garden Bed

sustainable garden ideas
Source: Pinterest (@joycey4)

Are you a fan of English gardens? If that is so, this one of the most exquisite sustainable garden ideas is definitely made for you. This garden comes in lush with native perennials like coneflowers, black-eyed susans, and white yarrow. Not only are they stunning and produce nectars for the wildlife, but those blooms withstand drought so well.

In addition, purple coneflowers are excellent in storing water and breaking down the clay soil! So, you can just let them blossom without much watering and maintenance. But if you want to make it a bit less dense, trimming may be necessary.

4. Drought-Tolerant Perennial Garden

sustainable garden ideas
Source: Pinterest (@bhg)

Another drought-tolerant garden pick you can have in your backyard. It provides bursts of purple shades with deep to light ones to pamper your eyes. There are some flowers you can choose to have this design, such as Russian sage, Meadow sage, and lavender.

In case you want to offer a silvery hint, Lamb’s ear and globe thistle will be your best bet. They are all low-maintenance and cope well in harsh summer and drought. As they have diverse shapes, you can grow them in one area to offer textures, forms, and, of course, encourage pollinators to visit.

5. Bird-Friendly Cottage Garden

sustainable garden ideas
Source: Pinterest (@tumblr)

We talk a bit much about butterflies, and now let’s move on to bird-friendly garden ideas! One thing you must remember before designing a bird garden is to provide a comfy home. You can try building some by yourself using wood or buy some on e-commerce. After that, mount them on wooden stakes and install them around your garden.

Next, grow flowers and plants to invite your avian friends. We highly recommend flowering plants, such as sunflowers, coneflowers, asters, daisies, and black-eyed susans. Grow them alternately to create a stunning scene of cottage garden.

6. Permaculture Garden

sustainable garden ideas
Source: Pinterest (@homedit)

Permaculture refers to sustainable farming methods by using land to grow diverse crops with minimal waste. Generally, those who adhere to a sustainable lifestyle have widely adopted this approach. You can plant one in your backyard by planting vegetables in raised beds.

These beds allow you to grow many kinds of vegetables or herbs, aiming to increase biodiversity. We also recommend having a fish pond in the middle to provide a water source for visiting birds and wildlife. Try companion flowering plants, too, to repel pests from this area and invite more jewel-winged creatures!

7. Kitchen Garden Layout

Source: Pinterest (@ellenogden)

What’s more exciting than having a nature-provided kitchen in your backyard? You can pick your favorite greens, veggies, and fruits during their seasons for free! And as a plus, this kitchen garden also lowers carbon emissions used during farming and transporting the food to your plate.

To build one, you better divide the sections into four, where you can rotate the crops every season. This crop rotation method is beneficial to prevent nutrient depletion in the soil and pest infestation. And to invite pollinators, grow some flowering plants that can also deter pests from hanging around in your garden for too long.

8. Small Raised Bed Garden with Companion Plants

sustainable garden ideas
Source: Pinterest (@famfoodgarden)

One of the benefits of organic farming for sustainable gardening is that it does not require large areas of land. The key is to use raised beds, so you can grow lots of vegetables in one planting area. But of course, you must learn whether the veggies are great to grow next to each other as some may compete for nutrients.

Remember to provide a distance between the beds so that pests and disease transmission do not occur if you are dealing with one. Also, install wooden stakes around to support the vining plants and grow flowers or herbs to get rid of pests. We recommend covering the soil around beds with gravel to prevent runoff and to keep this area neat and clean.

9. Sustainable Backyard Setting

sustainable garden ideas
Source: Pinterest (@hendrikvenmans)

Combine a relaxing area in the backyard with a sustainable garden! All you need to do is plant native flowering plants around. Choose purple coneflowers, Russian sage, and lavender which can store more water and are drought-tolerant. Besides, these bloomers will decorate your outdoor space and attract pollinators to come around.

You can enjoy butterfly-watching from afar, allowing them to suck on nectars and eat pollen. In addition, introduce a water feature in the area to conserve water. The pond benefits the soil and plants as it sustains moisture. It also provides a sanctuary for your garden’s dragonflies, butterflies, and even frogs. How amazing!

10. Low-Maintenance Edible Garden

sustainable garden ideas
Source: Pinterest (@hgtv)

Growing your own crops to provide you with endless food is indeed exciting! But actually, the benefits exceed that. You can also save the earth and environment since you help cut the carbon emission in farming.

In case you have a limited area to plant your favorite greens, you can always count on wooden boxes to make raised beds. This method will reduce water intake and allow various plants to grow in the same site. Placing some potted plants around your veggies that will serve as companion plants will also be better. Choose the blooms based on what veggies you grow; for example, geraniums are excellent to plant with brassicas.

Water-Wise Garden Layouts

One of the most important aspects of sustainable garden ideas is to minimize water use. And here, we are about to bless you with some of the best water-wise garden designs to create a sustainable backyard landscaping.

But, you can also opt one for any outdoor space you please. Most of the plants are drought-tolerant, like agave, cacti, yuccas, and succulents. Thus, you can leave your concern behind. Check them out!

11. Vibrant Desert Garden

sustainable garden ideas
Source: Pinterest (highdesertdesigns.com)

Desert is synonymous with arid landscapes, full of dust, and as far as the eye can see, you can only see sand and rocks. Well, you can debunk that stigma by designing this vibrant desert garden. For the yellow tones, there are no better options than California poppy and Brittlebush. They grow creeping with bright blooms that will elevate your desert garden.

We also recommend that Mojave Aster add purple shades and prickly pear cacti to give a vivid desert character. These hardy plants thrive in harsh conditions with no worries about watering. You can grow them alternately on both sides of the stairs or around your patio garden.

12. Indigenous Grass Setting

sustainable garden ideas
Source: Pinterest (enrichstudio.co.za)

Living in an arid climate can be tricky since not many plants thrive in such a tough condition. And if that’s the case, grass setting will be your ideal pick to adorn your sustainable garden. Though these plants are not as popular as bloomers, most grasses are beneficial to prevent runoffs and soil erosion.

Thus, growing grasses can maintain soil nutrients pretty well. Besides, butterflies and dragonflies love to lay eggs and hang around the grasses. We have some of our favorites to grow (and perhaps you too!), including pink muhly grasses and blue fescue grasses.

13. California Garden Design

sustainable garden ideas
Source: Pinterest (@reliabler)

It’s no secret that California’s climate is no joke! No wonder only a few plants can thrive well in this state. If you happen to be a Californian, this sustainable garden design may suit your taste. It features Echeveria succulents with rose-shaped flowers that will beautifully adorn your front yard space.

For the greenery, consider silver grasses and pink muhly grasses. Both are drought-tolerant, with no need for frequent watering like mondo grasses. We also recommend growing trees like Bur Oak or Eastern Red Cedar. They will provide shade and, especially Red Cedar, will give your bursts of pink blooms in spring!

14. San Diego Cactus Garden

sustainable garden ideas
Source: Pinterest (@sunsetmag)

We can confidently say that the cactus is the most sustainable plant to include in a water-wise garden. They don’t need much water and are easy to care for. Instead, the cacti can hold water for later use. Thus it is an eco-friendly option to raise in your garden bed.

You can make a fantastic cactus garden by planting several types of cacti in your small front yard. Claret cup cactus, golden ball cactus, and Mexican fence cactus are some of our excellent recommendations you can try planting. To mimic their native habitat, add sand and spread gravel to cover the soil.

15. Bungalow Backyard Design

sustainable garden ideas
Source: Pinterest (theweek.com)

Spruce up your bungalow backyard by transforming the area into a drought-tolerant garden! This is the best idea for those who are not passionate about gardening but want to makeover your outdoor space to make it look eye-catching.

Make use of arid plants, such as cactus, yucca, and agave, to decorate the site. The agave will look stunning growing near the trees, while the lavish Russian sage adds purple tones to the scene. You can add golden ball cacti around the sage and plant pink muhly grasses to introduce an array of bright colors.

16. Modern Eco-Friendly Garden

sustainable garden ideas
Source: Pinterest (naturalearthla.com)

Unlike tropical gardens, which are full of greeneries, this modern garden highlights a modern minimalist theme that is suitable for millennials. It features neat settings with green grasses and small trees against white walls.

To add more color, we recommend growing lavender or Russian sage that spark silvery purple tones. You can also introduce drought-tolerant, blue fescue grass that will offer blue-green shades amidst brown sand and gravel. As for textures, yuccas and cacti will be great features in your sustainable garden.

17. Mid-Century Modern Garden

Mid-Century Modern Garden
Source: Pinterest (@RMGardenista)

Having a sustainable garden doesn’t have to be boring. You can be more playful with the plant selection by growing cacti, succulents, yucca, and agave at the same time. Don’t worry. It won’t be overwhelming. Instead, those arid plants will create a breathtaking combo with diverse textures and shapes in your garden.

Just make sure you grow them on both sides of your walkway where the tall ones reside next to each other. Then, cover the soil with crushed limestones or gravel, whatever you find the easiest to mimic their natural environment.

18. Front Yard Water-Wise Landscape

Front Yard Water-Wise Landscape
Source: Pinterest (@archdaily)

Finding your front yard dull? Explore your creativity by turning it into a desert oasis! You can start with planting golden ball cacti and small agave. Those two will give a bold desert character to your garden. Then, arrange stones around them to create a border between one another.

Next, we recommend planting Old Man cacti with a bit of silvery white tone to introduce more arrays in this space. You can also try Mexican fence cacti that are taller. But for that matter, you will need a garden corner to allow the plants to grow well with support.

19. Vast Rooftop Garden

Vast Rooftop Garden
Source: Pinterest (@Houzz)

As we previously discussed, a sustainable garden optimizes the land to grow plants. And for that reason, you can use your rooftop garden to build one. A rooftop garden is beneficial for preventing runoff, conserving water, and adding more greenery to your living space

To minimize the upkeep, you better grow arid plants like agave or succulents. If you wish to have some bright colors, adopt Crassula rupestris ‘Baby’s Necklace’ and Echeveria elegans succulents to your rooftop landscape. You can also opt for pink muhly grasses to create a fairy-tale-like scene with pink shades in this area.

20. Water-Free Garden Design

Water-Free Garden Design
Source: Pinterest (@en.paperblog.com)

Turn your arid area into a water-wise haven! Making one doesn’t take tons; just prepare agave, succulents, and golden ball cacti as the key features. Choose a huge agave to create a focal point in this area. Then, around this plant, rose-shaped succulents. For this matter, you can pick varieties as you wish.

We recommend the flower-bearing ones if you want to add colors. Meanwhile, the golden ball cacti can reside near succulents or agave. To finish it up, spread gravel to make a clean scene. You can also grow flowering vines on the wooden fence for a few bright tones.

Recycled Vegetable Garden Ideas

In case you want to apply biodynamic gardening methods but only have a narrow land, you can always rely on recycled garden ideas. They are not only sustainable, but also cut your pocket money by using used materials to grow your own crops.

Plus, these veggies will invite your flying friends, like bees and butterflies, to suck on pollen and nectar that grow around. Interested? Let’s dive in!

21. Tires For Planters

Tires For Planters
Source: Pinterest (@periodliving)

While conserving water and land is crucial, using recycled materials is no less important to design a sustainable garden. You can use various stuff, including used tires laid forever in your garage. It is so simple! Find the right location you want to set up a recycled garden.

Then, prepare organic garden soil mixed with compost and fill the tires’ holes with it. After that, transfer the vegetable seedlings to this spot and sprinkle water to moisten the soil. Now, you need to wait until the veggies are ready to harvest! You can also grow companion plants to repel pests since sustainable gardening is against chemical products.

22. Earth-Friendly Green House

Earth-Friendly Green House
Source: Pinterest (@goodhousemag)

The greenhouse is often associated with global warming. But for this kind of greenhouse, our earth will thank you! Instead of using wooden boxes or new container pots to grow greens, you can use tires to create raised beds. These raised beds benefit the veggies by preventing pests from infecting the ground.

In addition, you can ensure there’s no nutrient competition as each veggie grows on different tires. To make it a bit taller, you can stack the tires and then make them line up to make it easier for you to take care of your crops.

23. Minimalist Vertical Garden

sustainable garden ideas
Source: Pinterest (@instructables)

Vertical garden has long been a favorite as it can save space in a limited area. You can try this idea by utilizing recycled items around you, such as old plastic containers, to grow seedlings. Then, arrange those planters on used shelves in your backyard.

Apart from that, you can also use small sacks to plant greens and hang them on the wooden walls. Recycled trellis also works great for hanging flower pots made of plastic bottles that will serve as companion plants to your veggies.

24. Small Used Container Gardening

sustainable garden ideas
Source: Pinterest (nicolastocken.com)

Few folks only have a small area to create a vegetable garden. And here, we bring them a garden container that they can easily use to plant their liking crops. Apart from that, this idea also uses recycled items as a medium for planting these vegetables. You can use water buckets, paint cans, or unused pots as planters.

Fill them with organically rich soil before planting the veggies. In addition, it is better to grow companion plants to your veggie to prevent uninvited guests from arriving: pests. Arrange the potted companion plants around your crops and say bye to the culprits!

25. Repurpose Garden Pots

sustainable garden ideas
Source: Pinterest (@rebooked)

In addition to tires, paint cans, used drawers, cardboard boxes, and even broken guitars, you can make garden media suitable for your vegetables. That’s called sustainability, as you utilize trash into something more useful!

Just like some of the sustainable garden ideas mentioned, you can clean the recycled items first before filling them with soil. If you have garden soil, you can add compost and mulch to boost the nutrients. After that, plant crops that you like! You can use those drawers to build raised garden beds too!

Sustainable Gardening Products

Before you create a sustainable garden, preparing sustainable gardening products is a good idea so that the plants flourish as you wish. There are some organic products that we like and would love to recommend to you.

Don’t worry! They are widely available in the market and in e-commerce, so you can grab them without any hassle. Check them out!

1. Natural Cheddar Chips Organic Mulch

Natural Cheddar Chips Organic Mulch
Natural Cheddar Chips Organic Mulch

One of the items that must be included in the list to build a sustainable landscape is organic mulch. Mulch helps to protect roots from extreme weather by keeping moisture and temperature stable. Thus, the roots won’t suffer or freeze in the winter.

Besides, mulch is generally made of natural ingredients, like leaves and bark. These materials will be degraded into organic matter beneficial for the soil to boost nutrients, ensuring the plants thrive.

2. Compost Accelerator

Compost Accelerator
Compost Accelerator

In addition to mulch, we recommend buying a compost accelerator to boost your compost fermentation in the bin. Amazingly, it is an environmentally-friendly option that won’t interfere with the roots. Instead, it offers beneficial bacteria to enhance the fermentation.

Just like mulch, compost also adds nutrients to the roots and soils. Moreover, compost also offers a steady supply to the soil, so it doesn’t cause root burns like chemical fertilizers mostly do.

3. Hanging Wood Bird Home

Hanging Wood Bird Home
Hanging Wood Bird Home

If you are interested in designing a bird-friendly garden, having a bird home is a must! It will attract the birds to rest and make a nest inside this space. Besides, bird homes also work as a safe shelter when no trees are around to protect them from harsh weather. And if you are lucky, they can also breed in the bird’s home.

Luckily, you won’t be bothered with making one since there are many bird houses with various shapes you can choose from in the market. Just make sure you provide a pole to hang it in your garden.

4. Pure Neem Oil

Pure Neem Oil
Pure Neem Oil

Companion plants are indeed excellent to deter pests naturally. Some of them even bear blooms that can decorate your vegetable garden. But sometimes, the invasion is way too far and that you need a natural ingredient to repel these foes.

For that reason, we recommend pure neem oil you can use to get rid of the flies instantly. All you need to do is to mix the 1.5 tsp of the oil with one quart of water. Next, add a half tsp of dish soap to the mixture then blend it well. After that, pour it into a spray bottle and you are all set! This oil can kill insect-feeding species, like bugs, fungus gnats, and aphids.

Final Thought

Sustainable gardening is an interesting approach to start a zero waste lifestyle, especially for those whose passion is gardening. You can grow plants, veggies, and flowers while also conserving water, maintaining ecosystems, and harvesting your crops! Besides, this kind of garden is generally low-maintenance and saves you extra budget knowing it uses all natural gardening techniques.

Few of our favorites are growing vegetables with tires and using companion plants to get rid of pests instead of spraying chemical insecticides. We also include some of our likable sustainable gardening products you can purchase to have a thriving garden.

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is sustainable the same as eco-friendly?

The term eco-friendly refers to products or activities that are made and carried out taking into account environmental aspects so that their existence does not harm our earth. Meanwhile, sustainable living is more about all the efforts we do today that don’t have a negative impact on the environment and the planet. In short, it doesn’t deplete our natural sources so that future generations can experience them.

What plants are best for a sustainable garden?

Creating a sustainable garden means you must consider what plants are the best to start this environmentally-friendly gardening. Generally, native plants are the perfect ones for your eco-friendly garden as they are easy to upkeep. They also are adaptable to the local climate and thus reducing water use. Some you can grow in your earth-friendly garden are lupine, goldfields, and cobweb thistle.

Besides native plants, you can try growing arid types, like cacti, succulents, agave, and yucca. These arid plants are drought-tolerant, so you don’t have to bother yourself to water them everyday.

What are the features of a sustainable garden?

Those who start sustainable living usually want to adopt the value for every aspect of their lives, including gardening. However, sustainable landscaping requires some features to ensure that the natural sources, like plants, soil, and water, are protected.

One of the most important keys in creating a sustainable garden is to reduce the water use. You can choose sustainable garden plants, like arid and native plants, that don’t need much water. Moreover, we highly recommend using beds for environmentally-friendly gardening as the maintenance is pretty easy and doesn’t take up spaces.

Also, opt for natural options. It will be better to use natural pesticides or even grow companion plants to repel pests instead of using chemical sprays that will pollute the soil. In addition, compost and mulch are preferable than adding NPK chemical fertilizers that, along the way, have negative impacts to the roots and ground.

What makes plants more sustainable?

One of the best and organic gardening tips are the plant selection. Not all plants are ideal for your eco-friendly garden, as many of them require more water and maintenance. You can choose sustainable garden plants that serve as food sources and make a safe shelter for  pollinators and wildlife.

That way, you are contributing to maintaining our ecosystem. Furthermore, native plant gardening can also become an amazing option! Such a sustainable landscaping will thrive better since they are adaptable to the environment and climate change pretty quick. Besides, those plants won’t make your hands busy with upkeep.

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