As demands on the land around us increases, for housing, agriculture and infrastructure the space that is devoted to gardens is becoming increasingly important in environmental terms. Gardens have the potential to be the country’s largest nature reserve and it doesn’t take much to transform even the smallest of gardens into a haven for wildlife.

This book, How to Create an Eco Garden has been written to encourage us all to do our bit to make our gardens and allotments perfect habitats for wildlife and to help us minimise our negative impacts on the environment. The author, John Walker, is an award winning gardening and environmental writer with over 30 years experience in horticulture. He trained at Kew and has written for the Daily Telegraph and the RHS journal The Garden amongst others.

The books starts by explaining how gardeners, more than most people are in touch with nature on a regular basis but how modern gardening can actually be quite harmful to the local and wider environment. I was fascinated to read for example, that some petrol-powered mowers produce more air pollution during an hour’s use than a brand new car does in a year.

This is followed by a series of designs and ideas for eco-fitting your outdoor space, whether it is a standard back garden, a city courtyard or an allotment.

There is information that most gardeners will know already on seed sowing, companion planting and dealing with weeds. But there were plenty of ideas I hadn’t come across before such as ‘bagging’ perennial weeds to create a rich compost and interesting companion planting combinations.

I thought the sections on environmentally friendly containers and plant foods were particularly good, certainly the most comprehensive I have come across.

The chapter on soil care and composting covered everything you would want know including information on Biochar, a new product on the market similar to charcoal which is very beneficial for the soil.

I liked the section on creating a food garden in an average sized back garden. So many books seem to think we all have an acre in the countryside. However, I know from my own experience, many back gardens suffer from shade cast by trees and other buildings and although my own garden faces south and gets a fair amount of sunshine it was only really suitable for growing veg for a fairly short window of a couple of months in the summer. It can be very disheartening to put in a lot of work but for plants to suffer because the conditions aren’t suitable. So my only gripe with this book, but it is a gripe with all gardening books out there, is that it doesn’t paint a fair picture of trying to grow food in a typical back garden.

There is a good section on boosting biodiversity and at the end of the book there is a directory of ecofriendly plants.

My favourite section though was the chapter on sustainable landscaping. My experience of books which cover this subject is that there are invariably photos of expensive looking sheds with expensive green roofs. My own shed isn’t suitable for a green roof but I have been inspired by the photo in this book of a bird table with its roof covered in sedum. I have a similar bird table and although it is only a very small surface it is a project I plan to do this summer.

Overall I think this book is certainly the most up to date and comprehensive book I have come across on how to garden as sustainably as possible and I think there is something we could all do from this book to make a difference.

How to Create an Eco Garden is now available from Amazon.

Thanks to Suzanne at Aquamarine Books

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