THE LANDSCAPING SOLUTIONS BLOG


Welcome to our Blog. Inspiration, updates and industry trends from the team at Landscaping Solutions.

RISE OF THE ECO GARDENER

Eco Gardener

An unfortunate side affect of living a modern lifestyle is losing touch with nature. As we further develop our towns and cities, slowly swallowing up fields, parks and woodland the gradual loss of our natural surroundings is becoming ever more apparent.

Thankfully, as a nation we are becoming more environmentally aware everyday and attitudes are beginning to shift. As the effects of climate change begin to touch our everyday lives, there has been a rise of eco-conscious gardeners wanting to get back to nature and live a more sustainable lifestyle.

With this change in attitudes, people are developing a greater awareness of the environment as well as becoming more considerate of garden wildlife. Recent figures released by Wyevale Garden Centres showed that 67% of people surveyed considered themselves to be eco-conscious when it came to their approach to gardening. City dwellers in particular are setting a good example when it comes to cutting back on waste and encouraging wildlife.

The same survey also revealed that more than three quarters of gardeners try to avoid using chemicals in their gardens, with 46% opting for organic fertilisers as an alternative.

The negative impact our current food system has on the environment is also becoming clear to the eco-conscious gardeners of today. For this reason, growing your own food and in particular, watching what you eat, is becoming increasingly important to many.

People want to know where their food is grown and are aware that by adopting an organic approach to growing they can dramatically reduce their food’s carbon footprint.

As a result, the grow your own movement has been gaining traction and has quickly become a key focus for the eco-conscious gardener. In fact, a recent report from The Soil Association revealed the UK organic market alone is now worth £2.2 billion.

For those starting out in eco-gardening, knowing were to start can sometimes be a daunting prospect. The trick is to start small with something simple; using recycled pots, encouraging birds and wildlife in to your garden or installing a water-butt can quickly set you on the path to becoming an eco-gardener.

If growing your own food tickles your fancy then starting with items that are relatively easy to grow is also a good way of beginning your eco-gardening journey. A perfect starting point for example would be growing tomatoes. Tomatoes require minimal effort but can still yield satisfying and tasty results.

While all this may seem like relatively small steps at first, if all of us began thinking about changes we could make in our own gardens and implementing those changes we could make a difference. Not only to our own surroundings but to the environment too.

GARDENING: AN ANTIDOTE FOR THE MODERN WORLD

gardening-an-antidote

A number of recent studies conducted by researchers and health practitioners have concluded that daily contact with nature has a positive and long lasting affect on our mood. The simple act of gardening itself provides substantial human health benefits and not just for your physical health but your mental health too. In short, gardening is good for you.

Studies carried out across the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East all looked at the effects of daily contact with nature and its long lasting benefits on our health.

The research showed a wide range of positive health outcomes, such as reductions in depression, anxiety, and weight loss.

Many of us live in a society full of daily stresses. Difficult commutes, long working hours, daily obligations and workplace pressures all form part of our daily routines. Add to this high-fat diets, environmental pollutants and increased levels of social and psychological stress and it quickly becomes easy to lose touch with nature altogether.

As a result, conditions such as heart disease, depression, diabetes, and obesity have become a major public health issue. It is estimated that worldwide, approximately 415 million people currently suffer from diabetes and somewhere in the region of 350 million people suffer from some form of depression. Sadly this trend shows no sign of slowing.

As part of the various studies, a number of volunteers who had been diagnosed with depression, persistent low mood, or bipolar disorder were asked to spend six hours a week planting. After three months, over half of the volunteers had experienced a measurable improvement in their symptoms of depression with others showing lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

As the research has shown reversing the adverse effects of losing touch with nature is possible. The sensory experience of gardening offers the opportunity to quickly and easily reconnect with nature. First and foremost gardening gets you outdoors, while simple tasks like digging, planting and weeding offer excellent forms of low-impact exercise. The plants themselves improve your local environment, trapping toxins and filtering harmful pollutants, in turn improving not just your health and wellbeing but those around you too.

The beauty of it is you don't need a big garden to start reaping the benefits either. A small garden or courtyard is more than sufficient and even something as simple as gardening containers is a great way to start out. With the right approach even the simplest gardening experience can help make a difference.

As subject matter close to our hearts, we’ve covered a number of environmental issues over the past months. If you have found this article interesting you may also enjoy some of our previous articles - Battling Urban Air Pollution: The Humble Hedge, Pocket Parks and Bees In Crisis.

HUNDREDS OF PUBLIC PARKS SET TO CLOSE

Park Closures

A recent report by the Association of Play Industries has revealed how local authorities nationwide, have slowly been closing children’s playgrounds and parks at an alarming rate.

Extensive research carried out as part of the API report shows that between 2014 and 2016 local authorities across England closed 214 children’s playgrounds and public parks, depriving local communities of access to these vital green spaces in the process.

When questioned about the park closures a number of the local authorities involved admitted that there are in fact another 234 more parks and playgrounds scheduled for closure.

It is no secret that in recent years, there has been a series of spending cuts to play areas and public spaces around the UK but these latest figures highlight just how serious the situation really is.

Childhood obesity and wellbeing have been high on the Government’s agenda for sometime now yet the report revealed that the majority of the recent playground closures were as a direct result of a 37% cut in Government funding to local authorities.

The Chairman of the Association of Play Industries Mark Hardy had this to say “With increasing childhood obesity and the health benefits of activity and play well known, now is not the time for community playgrounds to be closing. This action goes against the Government’s clear intention to get children more active and needs to be stopped as quickly as possible”.

The loss of so many playgrounds across the country is undoubtedly a travesty and a number of organised protests have already taken place but with so many parks already closed is it too late to reverse the damage?

According to the same report approximately £100 million of investment could not only reverse the closures but also increase the number of playgrounds available to children across the country.

However, with the recent cuts as a clear indication, the funding is obviously not going to be coming from the government. Local authorities will have to continue to make difficult decisions about which parks and playgrounds are to be closed, unless they look towards organisations like the Big Lottery to meet the investment requirements.

As adults it is easy to become complacent about the importance of our connection with nature and quickly lose touch with it, we covered this topic in more detail in one of our recent articles "Losing Touch With Nature" a subject matter all of us at Landscaping Solutions are very passionate about.

It is heart breaking to think that unless something can be done we are gradually going to witness playgrounds and green spaces up and down the country disappearing from our urban landscape and while campaigners battle tirelessly to defend our parks and playgrounds, the harsh reality is that for now the future of Englands parks is unknown.

For further information or to read the The full report 'Nowhere to play' visit the API website.

LOSING TOUCH WITH NATURE

Landscaping Solutions - Nature Deficit Disorder

There has been a lot of talk in the media lately about Nature Deficit Disorder and while its not recognised as an official medical condition, a great deal of research has shown that Nature Deficit Disorder is something that can result in behavioural problems in a vast number of people, so it might be something that’s worth taking seriously.

The term itself was first coined in the novel ‘Last Child in the Woods’, by Richard Louv and refers to the fact that children (and human beings in general) are spending less and less time outside, resulting in a range of behavioural issues.

With strong links to Nature Knowledge Deficit, (a term describing the fact that we don’t know nearly as much about the natural world around us as we did in ages past) Nature Deficit Disorder is clearly a symptom of the modern lifestyle and a prime example of how we are drifting away from our natural habitat.

In the modern world, it is easy to lose touch with nature. We forget what an important part of our existence it is. There is a reason that people use to worship nature in the past, because it is essential to our survival as well as our well-being. A growing number of people are losing touch and forgetting to interact with nature on a regular basis.

A common cause for the onset of Nature Deficit Disorder is people’s growing fear of the danger the outside world presents, with many people choosing to spend more and more time indoors through fear, and passing this fear on to their children.

The gradual loss of natural surroundings is yet another contributing factor. As housing developments increase we lose fields, green parks and woodland as they are steadily replaced by brick and concrete structures. The lack of interaction with the great outdoors and being denied the opportunity to explore nature trails, woodlands and wildlife can be damaging. When you factor in the introduction of modern technology (video games, computers, mobile phones) it all contributes to a more insular and indoor lifestyle.

Ultimately the culmination of these factors can quickly result in a lack of respect for our natural surroundings, in children and adults. This in turn results in a decline in health for the Earth and the people that inhabit it.

Research has shown that the great outdoors has the power to make a person feel calm and tranquil, even something as simple as standing on the ground with bare feet can be enough to help you feel connected to nature again and feel its calming effect.

When it comes to tackling the effects of Nature Deficit Disorder something as simple as landscaping and maintaining your own garden can go along way to reconnecting with nature. Creating beautiful areas for you to sit and relax in, or even sections where you can regularly garden and plant flowers, are all parts of the process.

Something as simple as spending more time in your garden is enough to start reversing the effects of Nature Deficit Disorder. So when it comes to planing your garden and making it a more relaxing place to be, make sure you take landscape design into consideration or maybe let the professionals create something truly fantastic for you.

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