Top tips for a sustainable outdoor space
Many of us want to do more to help the planet, and by making some environmentally friendly updates to your garden, it’s easy to create your own sustainable space. With our gardens covering more space than the Lake District and the Peak District combined*, everyone can do their bit to take care of nature.
At B&Q, we started our sustainability journey in the early 1990s – driven by a challenge that if we claimed to care about the environment, we should know where our products came from. Not only that, we should know how they were made and what they were made from. By following these simple tips, you can become sustainable and have a healthier garden in the process.
*The Woodland Trust, 2018
Welcome in nature
In the last 30 years the numbers of some of the UK’s most important species like butterflies, hedgehogs and birds has been declining.* Giving wildlife somewhere safe to rest and feed is a great way to help the environment. Plants such as lavender and verbenas attract bees and butterflies, while ponds will encourage frogs to visit.
Getting rid of peat
Peat is formed over thousands of years, creating bogs and wetlands that provide a haven for wildlife, lock up carbon and helps to manage water, preventing flooding. At B&Q, we are committed to moving away from peat in our products. our easyGrow bedding plants are now peat free and we sell peat-free compost at the same price as other composts. We no longer sell 100% peat compost.
Give hedgehogs a helping hand by building them a shelter. Using an old wine crate or building a small box from plywood and lining it with polythene sheeting will give them somewhere to curl up and get cosy. Adding a bird box or table is another great way of inviting some wildlife into your space.
When you’re raking up your leaves in the autumn, instead of getting rid of them, make a pile in the corner of your garden. This will make the perfect home for all sorts of small animals, just be careful not to disturb or tread on it!
*The Wildlife Trusts, 2019
Give bees a chance
Without insects our lives would be very different. So much of our food relies on pollinating insects helping to fertilising our plants, in-fact a third of our food is pollination dependent*! Using pollinator friendly plants can encourage them into your garden, look out for our pollinator friendly logo in store.
Encouraging other insects, as well as pollinators, is really beneficial to your garden and the ecosystem too. Some eat weeds and other unwanted plants, some breakdown waste which would otherwise build up by eating it, and others are food to animals like frogs and birds. By having an untidy corner you’ll be creating a great environment for them, insects love a messy spot to hide away and rest. Try creating a wooden box from timber and fill it with bamboo canes for a simple bug hotel. Make your own bee b&b with our easy to follow guide.
We bee-lieve in bees
Ahead of EU restrictions, we withdrew all pest control products containing the three neonicotinoids of most concern with regards to the decline in bee population in the UK: imidacloprid, thiacloprid and clothianidin.
Getting rid of pesticides is an important step in becoming insect friendly. If you want to keep slugs and snails away from your plants and flowers, use an upturned grapefruit skin or beer trap. We offer beer traps that can be dug into the soil and concealed in your beds and borders.
Wasps are great for our eco system, but we understand they can be a little scary when you want to enjoy your garden. We offer a clever wasp imitation nest that you can hang in your garden to make them think another wasp family already lives there.
*BBC Teach, 2019
Reduce your water footprint
Water is a precious and limited resource, but everyone can do their bit to reduce their water footprint.
Collecting rainwater using a water butt is both cost-saving and great for the environment. Did you know it also reduces your carbon footprint? According to Water Wise, each time water rushes into the drains, energy is used by water companies to clean, treat and transport it.
It’s also ideal for acidic soil-loving plants like blueberries and heathers. Fit your water butt with a lockable tap to prevent any accidents if toddlers, young children and pets are likely to go anywhere near your it. Installing a water butt is easy. Follow our how to install a water butt guide.
Here are some other ways to cut back on using water in your garden:
- Hoses and sprinklers can use around 1000 litres of water each hour, fitting a trigger nozzle onto your hose can reduce this by 50%.
- Try using mulch or wood chips on your beds and borders to retain moisture, which means you have to water them less.
- If you do have sprinklers, it’s better to use them early in the morning or later in the afternoon when evaporation rates are at their lowest.
Be forest friendly
Since we published our first timber policy in 1991, at B&Q we’ve been working to become a more responsible retailer. We’ve got a whole furniture range that uses responsibly sourced wood and gives you peace of mind. We require all the wood in the products we buy to be either FSC® certified, PEFC certified or from a proven recycled source. You can read all about our Forest Friendly Promise here.
Our timber policy
Every product we sell that contains any paper, card or wood must comply to our Timber Policy. This includes products where it may not be immediately obvious - for example, some plastic paint brushes have a wooden ferrule inside. There are over 17,000 products which we apply our timber policy to – and we are very proud of achieving 100% compliance.
Recycling is another great way to be sustainable. Check in your local charity shops or refuse centres for reclaimed wood and furniture that you could clean up, paint and use in your own garden. If you’re thinking of getting rid of yours and it’s in reasonable condition think about donating it, or you could even upcycle it to sell.
Clear out the chemicals
Gardening without the chemicals means you’ll have pesticide free plants and veg, as well as protecting wildlife from any nasty harmful substances. Spraying can indeed kill off those pests, but it could also deter the predators that keep them at bay too.
Create a barrier that keeps your plants safe by keeping pests away. Slugs, snails and caterpillars will struggle to make a meal of your plants if you use our protective wool matting or our wool pellets around the base of your plants. Get creative and sprinkle sharp sand, horticultural grit or even eggshells around plants to deter slugs and snails.
Using natural fertiliser helps you grow healthier plants, vegetables and fruit without the need for damaging chemicals. This also means they’re safer to eat! Leafmould is the perfect home-grown fertiliser, it’s easy to make and completely free. Read our how to make your own leaf mould guide for everything you need to know
The best tip for keeping away pests is to ensure you have a variety of plants, this will ensure that one species won’t take over. The more varied your garden is, the healthier it will be, and after a while you’ll wonder why you ever used those chemicals!