7 tips for creating a natural outdoor space
More and more business owners are asking themselves how they can make a contribution to protecting the natural environment and saving resource by making changes in their company. Our advice: create an ecological outdoor area.
Not only will your employees feel at ease there, but you’ll also be doing something good for the local flora and fauna at the same time. You’ll also be making a positive impression on customers and business partners when you take responsibility and do your bit for the environment.
This article gives you handy tips on how to make your outdoor space more natural. Before we begin, let’s talk about why being more environmentally conscious about your outdoor spaces is well worth your investing in.
Why is a natural outdoor space so important?
Almost half of the surface area of our cities has been asphalted or is covered by buildings. The effects of soil sealing have a number of negative consequences for our local ecosystem:
- Rainwater cannot seep into the ground as easily, and the groundwater level falls.
- Soil fertility is lost, as important functions of the soil are impaired.
- The habitat available to native plants, insects and small animals such as birds is shrinking, resulting in less biodiversity.
But not all green spaces are the same. Even a well maintained lawn cannot fulfil the same function within our ecosystem as a field of flowers in full blossom. Moreover, harmful pesticides are frequently used on lawns – not to mention their huge need for watering – in order to maintain an immaculate condition.
The design of your outdoor area is therefore an ideal opportunity to break ground, get your hands dirty, and create a natural counterpoint that makes a contribution to protecting species and saving resources.
This is why it’s worth investing in making the company grounds more natural
Your outdoor space is obviously yours. And yet the property is also part of the local ecosystem that needs to be protected. If you provide an outdoor area that has been attuned to the natural environment, this will have a positive effect on the system as a whole. In addition, you can expect some benefits for your business:
Minimising the work involved
When properly landscaped, a sustainable outdoor space largely looks after itself. If you allow nature to do what it wants, instead of insisting on perfectly trimmed lawns and monocultures in your garden beds, this will reduce to work involved in looking after it.
The battle against vermin and weeds can also be won in natural outdoor areas without expensive pesticides. You don’t even need chemical fertilisers. Solar lights will also save you energy.
A green outdoor area teeming with life is far more interesting to look at than a dreary concrete landscape. Your employees will benefit from an outdoor area that they can use to relax “in nature” during their breaks. As a team-building measure, you could also consider redesigning the area and getting all your employees involved.
Here’s a handy check list to help you take care of your outdoor spaces properly regardless of the time of year.
Create a natural outdoor space by following these 7 tips
With these benefits in mind, it’s now time to get to work. The following tips will bring you a few steps closer to having a sustainable outdoor area for your company:
1. Save water
Instead of using tap water to water the garden, use the water that you already have. Rainwater is ideal for watering and only needs to be collected. By installing a special rainwater flap for the downpipe on your roof gutter, this precious resource flows directly into a drum for rainwater. You can fit a tap in it for watering.
By the way, substances that are harmful to plants are often used to disinfect tap water. Which means it’s not the best option for watering with anyway.
You can also save water by using the right watering strategy. It is best to water early in the morning or late in the evening to reduce evaporation. Your lawns will require less water if you slightly increase the height to which you cut it in summer.
2. Don’t use plastic
Flower pots and garden furniture made of plastic are cheap, but unfortunately not very durable. Moreover, their production pollutes the environment. The best alternative is plant pots made of clay or wicker, which boast a natural and appealing look. When it comes to furniture, you should go for wood, but there are a few points to consider here as well.
Avoid tropical woods such as mahogany, teak or rosewood, the origin and logging practices of which are often questionable. Instead, choose durable, local woods such as larch, chestnut or oak. Generally, quality labels such as the FSC seal of approval (certificate of the Forest Stewardship Council) provide orientation, providing verification of sustainable forestry practices.
3. Fight weeds without chemicals
In an ecological outdoor area, pesticides and chemical plant protection agents should be taboo. They not only keep vermin and weeds in check, but also drive away beneficial insects and animals. In addition, the poisons used in these agents seep down into the soil and on into the groundwater, and can contaminate it.
Instead of pesticides, plants placed close together will stifle weeds from the start. The use of joint fillers such as tread resistant Roman chamomile and regular weeding also prevent unwanted growth from flourishing.
4. Use green manure
Plants consume nutrients, which in turn need to be replaced. Green manure allows you to keep your soil naturally healthy without using chemical fertilisers. This involves planting certain plants that replenish and balance the nutrient content in the soil. Plants suitable for use as green manure include phacelia, clover, sweet peas, lupin and ryegrass.
5. Provide a home for beneficial insects
Animals serve an important purpose in the ecosystem and should find a home in your outdoor space. For example, birds are excellent exterminators of pests. Install birdhouses to ensure they take up residence. Birds also like to breed in hedges and shrubs, which should therefore not be trimmed from March to June.
Insects such as bumblebees and wild bees are among the most important pollinators, thereby ensuring that plants can continue to reproduce. Unfortunately, they rarely find shelter in urbanised areas in particular. You can help these hard workers rest their wings in an insect hotel.
6. Grow a diverse range of plants
Your outdoor area should ideally have a well balanced range of low-growth and tall plants. Large trees keep things cool in the summer and provide ample shade for your employees and other plants. Beds in which wildflowers grow add a splash of colour and attract bees and butterflies.
Everything you plant should be native, so that it is well adapted to the climate and soils. In addition, it is important not to create a monoculture, because one type of plant alone leaches the soil of specific nutrients. Let many different species grow next to each other that optimally complement each other.
7. Harness the power of the sun
Your outdoor area should also be open for use and safe after dark. After all, your employees need to be able to easily recognise the paths and find their way to parking spaces or bicycle stands. Solar lights offer an environmentally friendly alternative to mains-powered sources of light.
They are also easier to install as there are no cables to lay. Once the sun has charged the lights during the day, they bathe your outdoor areas in a pleasant light in the evening.