Garden Design: 5 Tips for a Beautiful, Sustainable Backyard

Small garden, fenced in, with dog in backyard
Before you plan your garden, first consider how to make it beautiful and eco-friendly. (DepositPhotos)

When it comes to protecting Mother Earth, all actions matter. Each of us can do something to reduce our carbon footprint — starting with something as simple as garden design.

If you have even the smallest garden and you love spending time there and caring for it, you can start introducing changes.

Step by step, you can transform your backyard into a sustainable garden that will benefit you and our planet. Best of all? You can do it without losing any of its beauty or charm.  

Man-made pond in a beautiful garden
Before you purchase a pond system, consider its depth so fish can thrive. (DepositPhotos)

1.   Make Your Pond Eco-Friendly

A well-designed pond can be a garden’s focal point, but it brings multiple benefits other than looks.

It can help you create a whole, healthy ecosystem in your backyard and provide you and your family a place to relax.

However, you need to consider several things to make sure that it’s environmentally-friendly and easy to maintain.

A pond needs to be deep enough if you want to fill it with living organisms such as beautiful Koi fish. The deepest portion of a reservoir — one that’s at least 3 to 5 feet — won’t get hot during warmer months or freeze in the winter, so fish will be safer.


Koi fish, seen close up, in a pond
Nothing enhances a backyard like a pond filled with koi fish — just make sure you also fill it with the right plants and an aeration system. (©mirkograul, Adobe Stock Photos)

Also, research the right combination of plants that will be most beneficial to your pond. Some will provide fish with food and oxygen, while others will shelter them from the sun, or attract useful insects.

Then, even if you have filtering plants, you will need to think about the aeration system to keep your pond clean and healthy.

Big or small pond fountains can contribute significantly to your overall garden design, and help you maintain the right level of oxygenation.

Finally, to make sure you’re doing right by the environment, consider solar-powered pumps and filters.


Beautiful plants and shrubs in rustic home's backyard
A well planned garden can brighten up any home’s appearance, regardless of its age.

2.  Plan Your Garden Well

Plan for a garden, not a gardener, is a well-known rule in landscape design.

The best way to keep a sustainable garden that will also be easy to maintain is to work with what you’ve got. In other words, use only plants that are native to your area and carefully plan the design.

For example, make sure you know which kinds of plants you will grow. The shadow-loving ones should be planted in the shadow, or in the shade of taller plants, not in direct sunlight. Plants that need more water have to be placed in a moist area, perhaps next to a pond.

Proper planning will reduce the amount of needed maintenance, but it will also allow your garden to thrive and impress.

Gloved hands pruning a rosebush.
Don’t be afraid of pruning your roses — there’s little you can do that you can’t correct the next time. (©New Africa, Adobe Stock Photos)

Having plants native to your climate will contribute to preserving native wildlife as well — you will provide food and shelter to those insects and birds that are already there and need it.

If you like low-maintenance gardening that packs a wallop, Knock Out roses are a must-have for your yard or garden.

Want to wow visitors with your flowers? A little attention to pruning will make sure you have the largest, showiest blooms around! Read How to Prune Roses for more information.

And don’t forgot to protect your roses from harmful! Black spot is one of the most common diseases of rose bushes. If left unchecked, it can cause quite a bit of damage to your rose garden. Read How to Control Black Spot Fungus on Roses for more information.


Spraying termites with pest control on the ground
Avoid insecticides with harsh chemicals; there usually are nontoxic, natural alternatives. (DepositPhotos)

3.  Say No to Chemicals

You don’t need to use harmful chemicals to get rid of pests, as there are more natural insecticides.

You may not even need insecticides, for that matter. Ladybugs, ground beetles, and many more are very much wanted in any garden. They prey on plant-eating insects, and they are completely safe to be around people and pets.

And who wouldn’t like to have cute, charming ladybugs in their garden?

If you need some exercise, consider pulling weeds. It will help you stay in shape and eliminate the need for using chemicals to get rid of unwanted weeds.

Pulling weeds from a raised garden bed
Regularly pull weeds to keep your garden looking its best.

If you do want to spray something on those weeds, here’s a non-toxic alternative. You just need Epsom salt, vinegar, and some dish detergent.

There are also natural ways to prevent diseases and other parasites from wreaking havoc on your beautiful garden.

For instance, onions and chives planted around roses may prevent them from getting black spot disease, bird feeders will attract birds that feed on caterpillars, and horseradish near potatoes will protect them from diseases.

Finally, research native plants. A lot of beautiful flowers won’t just enhance your garden’s design; they’re also useful when it comes to pest control and providing your garden with all the necessary nutrients.


Old drawers used as planters in repurposed rustic garden outside townhome
Don’t immediately discard old furniture — there may be other uses for it. (DepositPhotos)

4. Look for Eco-Friendly or Recycled Materials

Despite what you may think, working with eco-friendly materials will not limit your possibilities and choices.

On the contrary, by choosing to work with recycled, green and local materials, you will activate your creativity and imagination, and you just may find your style.

Tin buckets, old clay pipes, worn-out teapots, and ridiculously cheap garden chairs are waiting for you to put them to use and enhance your garden’s design.

Reused teapot in a garden
One person’s old teapot is another person’s next planter in their container garden. (©YULIYA, Adobe Stock Photos)

Sometimes, all you need is a little bit of paint to enjoy something new and fashionable from an old, scruffy item. Visit yard sales and junk shops to find the garden table of your dreams or a seesaw that you’ve always wanted for your children.

You can also find new things made from recycled materials; one example is a set of furniture made from recycled plastic that can look just like wood.

Also, if you decide to buy only local materials, you will reduce your carbon footprint by not contributing to the pollution generated by export.


Lettuce garden in a beautiful lush green backyard
This lettuce garden enhances the home’s backyard design — and nourishes the household. (DepositPhotos)

5.  Grow Your Own Food

Growing your own fruits, vegetables and herbs will help you discover a variety of new flavors. Home-grown food always tastes better because it’s grown with love and care, and without chemicals.

You will enrich yours and your family’s diet with healthy ingredients and save some money on groceries. In addition, a wide range of colorful fruits and vegetables can add to the attractiveness of your garden and enhance its rustic design.

“Today’s Homeowner” host Danny Lipford and his wife, Sharon, tend to a raised garden bed
Raised garden beds are easy to access, control and care for than their in-ground counterparts.

In-ground vegetable gardens are tried and true, but to really enhance your landscape, consider building raised garden beds. They’re easier to work with, sitting or standing; you can completely control the soil quality; and you can grow more in them.

You can buy a raised garden bed kit from a home improvement store — they’re easy to assemble. Then just fill them with organic material and topsoil, and start gardening!

Read: Advantages of Raised Planting Beds for Your Garden


Take Care and You Will Be Taken Care Of

By creating a sustainable garden, you will not only contribute to protecting our planet, but it will also benefit you and your family. After all, a sustainable garden is a healthy and safe one.

Be kind to Mother Nature and she will certainly pay you back by providing you with her healthy fruits and natural beauty.


2 COMMENTS

  1. I love your radio program every Saturday morning at 7AM. I wish I could also hear the 6AM program, but it’s too early for me.
    I appreciate the eco-friendly and chemical free gardening suggestions. I know you need sponsors, but I cringe every time I hear the Bonide methods of dealing with small animals, insects and plants. It just doesn’t fit in with the tone of the rest of the program. I bet Joe doesn’t like their products or suggestions, either.

    Just wanted to let you know how I feel.

    • Hi, Marjorie! We believe it’s important to use the right tool for the job. Sometimes, natural ingredients work wonders; other times, chemicals are your best bet. Bonide products work; plus, they are people and pet safe, and that’s why we recommend them.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here