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Are you finding your garden waste is too much for the collection bin? Don’t know what to do with it? It’s a bit of a dilemma, particularly for keen gardeners and those with large plots, lots of trees and shrubs, or lots of grass to cut.
While most gardeners will have a handy compost heap, you’ll still have waste that isn't suitable for composting and needs disposing of in other ways. So, how do you get rid of garden waste? Here are our top tips to solve the problem, reduce the amount of garden waste and reuse it.
What is classified as garden waste?
So, what do we mean by garden waste? Well, there’s your green waste, the weeds you’ve pulled up, grass cuttings, autumn leaves and even vegetable peelings. Then there’s brown waste, like shrub and tree pruning, cardboard, shredded wood and branches.
But not all waste from the garden can be composted, like soil and pebbles, but it can be reused. At a time when we’re all looking to reduce waste and become more sustainable, there’s a lot you can do in your garden to avoid your garden waste ending up in a landfill site. Even some of the bigger jobs in the garden allow you to recycle and reuse the waste. So, let’s look at how you can get rid of your garden waste in different ways.
How to compost your garden waste
One of the best ways to recycle and reuse your everyday garden waste is through composting. Once it has rotted down sufficiently, compost benefits your garden. From weeds, hedge trimmings and lawn cuttings to dead flower heads, annual plants, autumn leaves, paper, vegetable peelings and old fruit, wood chippings and even cardboard, it can all be added to a compost heap or container.
Compost made at home from all your compostable garden waste includes the best organic matter, adding valuable nutrients to your soil. It improves the soil's biodiversity, drainage in heavy clay soils, moisture retention in sandy soils, aeration and structure. When added on top of the soil, as a mulch, it will keep the moisture in for longer, ideal for hot weather, and slow down the growth of weeds.
The most efficient way of making compost is to use a bin, but you don’t need to go out and buy a dedicated compost bin. You can make your own using wooden pallets or recycled planks and build a square. You can also use a dustbin with a lid, or something similar, which may be more suitable for smaller gardens that don’t necessarily produce much garden waste. Mix green and brown garden waste together, as they have different benefits for your compost. Green waste is rich in nitrogen, while brown waste is rich in carbon.
Your compost can be mature enough to use after six months, but in most cases, it takes up to two years. Turn over the contents of your compost every so often to fully mix the micro-organisms and bacteria, and it will speed up the process. When it is dark brown, has a texture like soil and smells like damp woodland it’s ready to use.
What to do with dead wood and trees
If you’ve had to take down a tree or remove a dead hedge, did you know you can reuse the waste materials? Dead wood can be a vital lifeline for various species, like woodpeckers, treecreepers and other invertebrates. Here are some things you can do with dead wood.
- When you fell a tree, you’ll be left with a stump, but instead of having the stump removed, which will leave a hole, consider a stumpery. Popular with the Victorians, plant ferns and shade-loving plants around them to create a feature in the garden.
- Log piles. Unless you intend to burn the logs, you’ve felled (note: not all wood is suitable for burning on a home fire), create a haven for wildlife in your garden by building a log pile. It doesn’t have to be big, and the logs don’t have to be big or the same size. Stack them randomly to leave little nooks and crannies. As the pile rots over time, you will see spiders, beetles and woodlice and will also have a habitat for hedgehogs, mice, shrews, insects, ladybirds, butterflies, frogs and more.
- Log walls. Similar to log piles, if the logs you have are more even in length and shape, you can build a log wall. For stability, put the larger logs at the bottom and taper the sides inwards, or add supports on either side and the back. Create ‘houses’ for wildlife in your logs or plant moss, ferns and others that thrive on natural materials. However, don’t allow children to climb on log walls for safety.
- Wood chippings for composting. For leaves and branches from trees and hedges, create chippings or shredded pieces using a shredder and add them to your compost heap. This also helps the wood to break down quicker in a compost heap.
The sustainable garden
As well as reusing and recycling your green and brown garden waste, there are plenty of other things to do in your garden to help the environment.
- Watering your garden with a watering can rather than a sprinkler or a hose uses less water.
- Get a water butt and collect the rainwater, then use this to water your plants.
- Build a composter, or invest in one, and recycle/reuse all your garden waste, lawn cuttings, autumn leaves, and old fruit and vegetable peelings.
- Use mulch to help your soil retain moisture and reduce weeds.
- If buying compost, make sure it’s peat free.
- If buying materials for the garden, like wood for decking, aim to use recycled items.
As the climate changes every year, every season, the more we can do to reuse and recycle our garden waste to protect the environment. At Rhino Greenhouses Direct, we have a wide selection of greenhouses in all shapes and sizes where you can grow all sorts of plants, fruit and vegetables all year round. We also stock rainwater collection solutions.