When it comes to combating climate change and boosting biodiversity, the UK’s garden centres have a vital role to play.
As well as promoting sustainable gardening to customers, the sector is now greening its own practices. The Horticultural Trade Association (HTA) has drawn up a Sustainability Roadmap covering carbon emissions, water usage and more.
To inspire you further, we’ve put together our top nine tips for greener gardening that you can implement at your store and offer to your customers.
- Soil health
Peat has been a mainstay of UK gardening for decades – but it comes at a heavy price.
According to Professor Dave Goulson from the University of Sussex: “Globally, peatlands store half a trillion tonnes of carbon, twice as much as the world’s forests. Unearthing this precious store of carbon is a needless ecological disaster.”
Garden centres are already gearing up for the ban on peat sales from 2024. In its place, gardeners will be able to boost their soil quality through peat-free alternatives, organic fertilisers, and home composting.
- Zero waste
While green waste can be composted, other products are harder to dispose of sustainably.
As well as supplying plants in biodegradable pots, garden centres often take back plastic plant pots and trays for recycling. Many also promise to reduce, reuse or recycle paper, packaging, and cafe supplies.
- Edible crops
An estimated 35% of British adults use their outdoor space to grow herbs, fruit and vegetables, thus reducing food miles and packaging.
And the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) says there is a general move towards growing food more sustainably, with less digging, no fertiliser, and lower water usage.
Guy Barter of the RHS says: "Using this approach doesn't reduce yield and quality as much as traditional gardeners might expect, and proponents point to other aspects that they hold more important, such as environmental benefits."
Pollination by insects is essential for around three-quarters of globally important commercial crops. Yet numbers of bees and other pollinators are declining as their habitats are lost.
By planting flowers that pollinators love, gardeners can attract bees, bugs and birds to their outdoor spaces.
Why not give your garden centre a bit of a buzz by guiding customers towards wildlife-friendly plants with eye-catching displays?
- Greener energy
Whether installing LED lighting in stores or overhauling transport, there’s a lot that garden centres can do to reduce energy usage or switch to greener forms.
Tools powered by green electricity or rechargeable batteries are better than those that use fossil fuels. Time to replace those petrol strimmers!
Trees absorb carbon, reduce temperatures and pollution, prevent flooding, and enrich the soil, prompting the Woodland Trust to declare: “Trees are the ultimate multi-taskers in the fight against climate change.”
Why not add a display to your garden centre with facts and figures about trees, plus growing tips?
- Sustainable materials
One recent study found that 86% of UK consumers have become ‘greener’ in their purchasing habits over the past five years, with 62% agreeing that sustainability is an important criterion.
What’s more, 33% of UK consumers are prepared to pay more for sustainable products. On average, they say they will pay up to 25% extra.
For garden centres, that means stocking products made from sustainably sourced wood, alternatives to plastic, or recycled materials.
Second-hand goods are also making a comeback. Could garden centres follow IKEA’s example and start their own circular hubs?
- Water conservation
The RHS ‘Mains to rains’ campaign seeks to educate gardeners about water-conserving methods, including permeable paving, reduced mowing, and mulching.
For garden centres, it’s an ideal opportunity to promote goods such as water butts and drought-friendly plants.
- Involving children
Finally, what better way to engage the consumers and decision-makers of tomorrow with green issues than through gardening activities?
Easy-to-grow veggies are a great way to get young gardeners started, while bee-friendly flowers or bug hotels are ideal for engaging little ones with biodiversity issues.
How about providing fact sheets and displays designed for young learners too?
Contact Linney today
At Linney, we want to help your garden centre plant a better tomorrow. Sustainability is at the heart of what we do, and our goal is to become a net-zero carbon business by 2025.