In recent years, it seems like the popularity of building more sustainable, nature-friendly yards has only grown.
But it might feel like an overwhelming task if you have never taken on a project like adding elements that will attract animals or nurturing the growth of vegetables and other plants.
This handy guide will give you 12 easy options to get started, so whether you want to create a bee garden, start utilizing solar power, or design a living privacy screen, we have the guidance you need.
Let’s dive in!
1. Collect and Reuse Materials
One of the most environmentally-friendly choices you can make for your backyard is choosing to recycle rather than buy new.
Look around your home or ask family and friends if they have old pots, unused garden tools, bird feeders, unwanted grass clippings, or any other items you might need.
You can use recycled materials for almost any backyard project. Plant or grass clippings make great natural compost. Old rocks and stones can be used for hardscaping.
What you can do is only limited by your creativity, and that’s why this is our top tip.
2. Build Bird Feeders, Baths, and Houses
Birds play an essential role in the ecosystem of any backyard by eating insects and helping to spread seeds, among other ways.
Wild birds are also a delightful addition to any backyard with their interesting songs and beautiful colours.
Attracting birds to your yard is a relatively straightforward process requiring food, nesting areas, and water.
Free plans are available online for DIY bird baths, bird feeders, and birdhouses. Building these pieces can be easy and relatively cheap, plus it makes for a fun weekend project for the whole family.
3. Create a Rock Garden
If you have a lot of rocks of varying sizes on your property, you can build a beautiful rock garden or similar hardscape features that make for an excellent point of interest in your backyard.
Building hardscape features in your backyard also help to cut down on the amount of grass you need to water and mow, making it an eco-friendly project.
Some sustainable materials for hardscaping and water conservation include permeable stones, pea gravel, or even recycled concrete, also called Urbanite.
4. Use Pots To Make Toad Abodes
If you have old, cracked, or unused plastic or clay pots, you can add a whimsical touch to your backyard by turning your pots into houses for toads.
Toads will also eat up to 100 insects or slugs daily, making them a great natural pest control measure for your garden or yard.
To create a house, cut a hole in a plastic container and lay it sideways on the soil. Place a rock on top to keep it in place or reinforce it with more dirt.
Or, if you live in a warmer climate, consider using a clay pot which will stay cooler than plastic when the temperatures start to rise.
The ideal placement for a toad house is somewhere with shade, such as near a bush or tree. It should also be close to a water source. If one is unavailable, place a small dish of water in the ground and periodically refill it.
5. Collect Rainwater
An incredible and almost totally passive way to make your backyard an eco-friendly environment is to collect rainwater in a barrel or other container.
Collected rainwater is a fantastic resource that you can use to water a garden or use as a secondary source of water for ponds and other water features in your yard.
Most water collection systems rely on the house of your roof and your gutters and downspouts to create a surprisingly effective system. Many manufacturers can sell you a complete rainwater collector setup online, or many DIY plans are available online.
6. Build a Butterfly Puddler Pool
Nothing adds natural charm to your backyard like the sight of butterflies. And one of the best things you can do to attract butterflies is to build a small butterfly puddler pool.
Many butterflies are naturally attracted to puddles where they seek nutrients such as salt and other minerals.
To create your butterfly puddling pond, do the following:
- Choose a shallow container and fill it with sand or soil. Place a few small stones in the dish, which serve as perching spots for the butterflies.
- Pour enough water in to wet the soil and sprinkle a small amount of salt on the surface.
- You can also put out small pieces of over-ripened fruit, on which the butterflies will feed.
- Keep the soil or sand moistened during the hottest parts of the day when butterflies are the most active.
7. Start a Compost Bin
A compost bin can be purchased cheaply or constructed at home and offers a fantastic way to reduce waste around the house.
You can use compost to revitalize soil that has been drained of nutrients as a substitute for less natural fertilizers, and it helps suppress pests and diseases when applied around plants.
To start composting at home, place your new compost bin in a dry, shady spot near a water source.
Add brown materials (dead leaves, branches, or twigs) and green materials (grass, vegetables, fruits, and coffee grounds). Be sure that the pieces are small.
Moisten the dry ingredients as you add more to the pile.
You should regularly mix new ingredients into the pile. Grass and leaves can go on top, but you should bury fruit and vegetable scraps at least 10 inches down.
8. Grow Flowers That Attract Pollinators
To attract even more beneficial wildlife into your backyard, consider planting a flower garden that will cater to bees and other pollinators.
Sometimes called a bee garden, these groups of flowers serve as an eco-friendly way to support the effort to save the bees by providing sources of nectar and pollen that the hard-working insects will use as a food source.
Bees are primarily attracted to flowers based on shapes, colours, and fragrances that appeal to them.
Here are five of the most popular flowers that bees love to visit:
- California poppies
9. Install Solar Lights
A quick internet search or a trip to your local hardware store will reveal a plethora of options for stylish, effective solar lights that are easy to install and can make your yard a fun space to relax or entertain on summer nights.
All you need to do is install the lights wherever there is a good source of sun that will allow them to charge throughout the day, and you should be ready to go.
These types of solar lights typically run on a timer or have a sensor that detects when the light level is getting low in the evening so that they will light up on their own.
Do a little planning and research the power level and style of lights you would like. There are dozens of options, like sidewalk lights or string lights that you can string over a patio for a unique, eco-friendly ambiance.
10. Grow Your Own Vegetables and Fruits
Raising and harvesting your own fruits and vegetables can be a fun way to learn a new skill and reduce your reliance on supermarkets and similar businesses. Another significant effect is that growing your food reduces your carbon footprint.
There is an endless variety of sizes, plants, and gardening methods that you can choose from when establishing your garden.
And combining a garden with other ideas on this list, such as using a compost bin, collecting rainwater, or collecting and reusing recycled materials, creates a self-sustaining system you can be proud of.
11. Build a Living Privacy Screen
If you want to create a little more privacy in your backyard, planting trees and hedges is a wise choice that adds more to the natural habitat than a traditional wood or metal privacy fence.
Designing a living privacy screen can take a little planning, but it’s well worth the effort. Using native plants or plants adapted to your local plant hardiness zone is a good idea to ensure the plants will grow well and last for years.
You also need to pay attention to the available space, water, and sunlight in your backyard to figure out what plants will work for you.
12. Research Flora and Fauna at the Library
Finally, visit your local library and take advantage of the resources there to learn more about the plants and animals native to your area.
You might discover a new flower that would be a great addition to your bee garden or find a DIY landscaping project that will increase the sustainability of your backyard.
Bring Your Backyard Space to Life
And there you have it: 12 unique projects that are renewable, sustainable, and good for the environment.
Try picking just one or two of the ideas that interest you and save the rest of the list for the future when you decide you’re ready to make your backyard even more nature-friendly.