By planning our gardens with sustainability in mind, we help to preserve natural resources and take some of the pressure off the natural environment. Thoughtful landscaping can encourage wildlife, reduce water use, prevent soil erosion and reduce the need for chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
By planning with nature in mind you can use the plants and materials which best utilise your garden plot while also best helping the natural environment. Sand and gravel are two of the more commonly used materials in garden design and with a little thought to how you employ them and their source you can make for a more environmentally friendly garden to be proud of.
Sand and Gravel in the Garden
Sand can have various practical uses when gardening aside from being a decorative feature in a creative design. Sand may also be added to the ground in correct proportions to help rainwater and natural organisms to penetrate through to the soil beneath.
Gravel is also good for drainage when used in garden paths or to break up any flat stretches of solid stone you may have in the garden, where water may not easily drain away.
Gravel can also be pleasing on the eye when mixed in with stones as part of a water feature such as the bottom of a pond. It is also a useful alternative for mulch around your plants and shrubs, preventing water loss as well as inhibiting the growth of weeds.
At a time when natural resources are becoming more and more stretched, any water-saving methods are essential in good sustainable gardening.
How Sustainable is Sand and Gravel?
Since the second half of the 20th century the number of people living in cities has risen dramatically. All these people need somewhere to live, somewhere to work and all the necessary infrastructure. This equates to a huge demand in concrete, of which sand is a major component.
Therefore, the pressure on sand as a resource is significant and when using it thoughts should turn to sustainability. Some nations including the UK have banned in-stream sand and gravel mining and are looking at other means to use less sand and gravel.
Sand can be obtained from recycled bottles, as well as from quarries. However, sand is also removed from beaches and other water beds which is not sustainable. Similarly, gravel is also obtained in a way which can damage the environment.
Therefore, although sand and gravel can have positive benefits environmentally in the garden it can be difficult to know where the product came from and how it was obtained.
When planning a garden, it may be best to reduce sand, gravel and concrete use for decorative features, retaining it for practical ones such as reducing water loss. For borders and paths perhaps look more to bark chips instead. We use more sand than is naturally replaced, so sustainability should be at the forefront of our garden design and landscaping.
Learn more: https://www.slic.earth/sand-and-gravel