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WHAT IS GARDENING FOR BIODIVERSITY.

“Biodiversity” is a current buzzword in gardening circles but what does it mean?

Biodiversity is short for biologicHardy endemic planting combinationsal diversity and refers to the variety of different life forms – plants, animals and micro-organisms, the genes they contain and the ecosystem they form. Biodiversity is usually considered at three different levels of explanation – genetic, species and ecosystem.
Local ornamental endemic grasses
Sustainable landscaping can include the ecosystem diversity and can be described as the level that pertains to gardens and green buildings encompassing the diversity of habitats and ecological processes occurring within an ecosystem type.
Sustainable landscaping is part of creating diverse habitats and ecological processes in order to attract wild animals, birds, butterflies and other insects into the landscape. By planting a selection of endemic plant species this will often provide a base from which these habitats can be created and upon which you can then build on introducing other indigenous species that will also be self-sustaining.
Erythrina humeana and insect life
In particular good biodiversity practises are concerned with birds, butterflies and beneficial insects which are known as indicator species and their presence indicates the ecological health of the garden. 
To ensure that your landscape is a haven for a wonderful variety of bird and insect life and capitalising on the previous blog this provides for a very exciting transformation of a garden over time.
Once the infrastructure is set up you will find that endemic planting particularly utilizing endemic grass species provide the infrastructure for creating a strong biodiversity approach in the design process of a garden.
See our next blog which will be a follow on to the concept of biodiversity. 

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Southern Africa seems to be the leaders in the world in terms of sustainable landscaping practices. 

The reason for this is the stark reality that shortages of water resources and changing climatic constraints are not conducive to creating ornamental landscapes.
These are the practices that we have developed in Southern Africa as follows.
1. Go organic – using less chemicals in a landscape is more ecologically sound and more cost effective. If you are growing food for your family gardening organically is even more important. Start from the ground up by building good soil rich in nutrients; add natural compost to amend the soil. If you discover insects, pest or plant diseases in your garden treat with organic solutions. 
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 2. Mulching the landscape – We in Africa have learned to be more conscious of mulching to prevent weeds in a landscape and it’s an ideal method of conserving soil moisture. Water restrictions are becoming generally more prevalent particularly in Southern Africa and in creating landscapes we are a lot more conscious of insuring that we mulch so that moisture is retained in the soil. The sustainable mulching options include shredded bark, pine needles, grass clippings, sweeping up the leaves and dead branches from trees cut up including vegetable and kitchen waste.
3. Planting indigenous/endemic - Endemic gardens which include locally grown plants to the particular area, requires a lot less work, less water and not necessarily climatically dependent. Additionally these plants often provide the shelter and correct environment for growing the more sensitive plants. Using the local indigenous/endemic ornamental grasses, low growing shrubs or ground covers that are endemic to the area are all good indicators for using plants that would be sustainable and all year round. 
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4. Water less – Around the world water is becoming a commodity that is not easily available particularly for landscaping and restrictions often are evident. Xeriscaping is the method of gardening and landscaping that reduces the need for watering and incorporates a wide variety of attractive drought-tolerant shrubs and perennials. Collection of water with tanks and run off from roofs and going green in terms of creating a greenscape rather than water dependant plants is a vital component in creating sustainable spaces.
5. Grow your own food – Vegetables and sustainable landscaping, herbs etc. in your space neutralizing the grey/green water that is within your space will be conducive to creating a self-generating environment. Beds can be interplanted with hardy vegetable crops including the indigenous herbs that create a sustainable space
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6. Plant Perennials – When plating perennials within a space go the endemic route and ensure that theses perennials will give colour and a different perspective to the landscapes in different seasons. This becomes an exciting experience as you will see varying perennials flowering at different times which brings in a different design focus to the garden.
7. Save seeds – When flowers and grasses particularly endemic grasses get to the end of a season collect the dried seed heads, store them in a dry place all winter and scatter them again in spring. This will then bring the reconstitution of the seed dispersal and will ensure that all gaps are filled in the growing season.
8. Compost – Sustainable gardening does include ensuring that the plant nutrient value from the soil is there. So compost must be well distributed through the landscape. Your own compost can be made from the mulch experience and is a good additive to ensuring that the nutrient value is maintained plus promoting a sustainable space.
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 9. Mow with an electrical mower – Obviously electrical mowers are a lot less polluting for the air and if you would like to reduce your carbon footprint use manually operated lawn-care equipment or electric mowers, trimmers and blowers rather than petrol driven equipment. 
10. Green for go – The carbon footprint of a space needs to focus specifically on power input through solar  power assistance and water treatment plants so that all waste material which includes sewerage and water from drainage is processed. Grey water can then be redistributed into the landscape. This is efficient and effective in promoting good plant growth and is all part of the carbon footprint for green for go. 
Sustainable landscaping is now the focus for worldwide landscaping techniques and education. The availability of localised plants together with their propagation is an important factor in the structure and combination of plant material.  Design focus of the landscape will focus on the combination of mainly green flowering plants or plants that will be correctly matched in terms of opposites in, flower, texture, colour, foliage and shapes.
We are looking forward to introducing this concept worldwide in developing and growing landscaping teams and their focus in sustainable landscaping. Contact us for further information on our consulting services email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit our website on www.ldconsultantsinternational.com

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