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Gardening and environmental consciousness go hand in hand. With 83% of Millennials saying they try to be environmentally conscious according to one survey, it is logical that many Millennials are taking up gardening. In fact, 29% of gardening households are aged 18 through 34 years old. And gardening among Millennials is only growing. Knowing that many of these new gardeners are taking up gardening for environmental reasons, here are five ways to make an environmentally friendly garden:

Create an Insect-Friendly Environment

While there is some debate about whether the "insect apocalypse" is happening or if it is just looming, there is little disagreement that humans have impacted insect populations through destruction of habitats, pesticides, and climate change. Gardens are environments that provide homes to all kinds of life, including insects.

Different insects are attracted to different types of plants and flowers. Planting a diverse range of plants invites a diverse range of insects into the garden, including butterflies, bees, and beetles. A home garden center can often provide suggestions for insect-friendly plants as well as plants that attract a diverse range of insects.

Minimize the Use of Herbicides and Pesticides

Herbicides and pesticides can save a great deal of labor. However, many chemical pesticides and herbicides can have long-term environmental effects and even cause adverse health effects. Natural pesticides derived from a variety of sources, such as chrysanthemums and tobacco plants, have been used for over 300 years. Newer natural pesticides are synthesized from plant extracts, bacteria, and even seashells. These natural pesticides often biodegrade rather than persisting in the environment and have minimal or no toxic effects on humans and animals.

Another option for dealing with destructive insects is through companion plants. Companion plants repel destructive insects or attract the beneficial insects that feed on destructive insects. Yarrow, for example, attracts pollinators as well as insects, such as ladybugs and wasps, that eat plant-damaging aphids. A home garden center can provide suggestions for natural pesticides as well as companion plants for a home garden.

Use Compost Rather Than Fertilizer

Chemical fertilizers can replenish nutrients in garden soil. However, fertilizers can also pollute water when fertilizer runs off gardens and into storm drains. Fertilizers may also cause long-term damage to topsoil by acidifying the soil and depleting the soil of minerals. As an alternative to fertilizer, home gardeners have begun to use plant waste, such as fruit and vegetable peels, grass clippings, and leaves. These can be collected and composted to make the fertilizer for your garden. The compost adds beneficial nutrients and microbes to the soil. Compost also feeds worms that can aerate and loosen the soil, making it easier for plant roots to grow. Compost works more slowly than fertilizer, but over time, compost creates a rich, plant-friendly soil. For gardeners who do not have the space or patience to make compost, bagged compost may also be available from a home garden center.

Plant Climate-Appropriate Plants

Water conservation is an important aspect of an environmentally friendly garden. Planting plants that are accustomed to a similar climate or, better yet, plants that are native to the area, will help ensure that the plants will be able to thrive without extensive watering.

Native landscaping also seeks to minimize the use of pesticides and fertilizers since the plants have adapted to the local environment. Going a step further, xeriscaping uses drought-resistant plants to reduce water consumption even more. A home garden center can recommend native or drought-resistant plants for any climate.

Add a Water Feature

Water features, such as ponds and fountains, not only make a garden more attractive, but can attract water-borne insects such as dragonflies and damselflies, which eat pesky bugs like mosquitoes, gnats, and aphids. Water features also attract birds and, depending on the local environment, frogs that can help control the insect population. A garden store can help with the supplies to install or build a backyard water feature.

For more information on crafting an environmentally friendly garden, rely on the home garden center you can trust: Al's Garden Center.