Sheds, greenhouses and garden furniture
Choosing sheds and garden furniture made from sustainably produced wood can help prevent illegal logging and deforestation. There are many other things you can do to help the environment while getting the most out of your garden.
The wider issue
Fuel burned to heat greenhouses creates emissions of carbon dioxide.
In addition, some sheds and garden furniture are made from wood which has been logged illegally causing deforestation, which currently accounts for 20 per cent of global carbon emissions. This is more than the entire global transport sector produces.
Choose sustainable materials for sheds and furniture
Some popular woods for sheds and garden furniture are harvested unsustainably – and sometimes illegally – from ancient forests.
Sustainable timber products can be found easily in high street retailers by looking for a label from a reliable forest certification scheme.You could also ask your retailer if they stock certified timber products. The Central Point of Expertise on Timber Procurement (CPET) lists reliable certification schemes and examples of labels on its website.
Cut out greenhouse heating
If you’re using a greenhouse to grow your own fruit and vegetables, you’re already doing something for the environment by reducing the energy needed to transport and store food for the shops.
However, heating a greenhouse in the winter months can be wasteful. Greenhouses are poorly insulated and producing the energy used to heat them contributes to climate change.
Taking care when setting up and using your greenhouse could eliminate the need for winter heating altogether:
- keep your greenhouse’s glass clean, especially where panes overlap, as even normal grime will dramatically reduce light levels and cut down on free heating from sunlight
- place your greenhouse in a bright spot that gets sun all day and isn’t shaded by trees or walls
- a lean-to greenhouse that shares a wall with your house will need less heating
- free-standing greenhouses with the lower part made of brick or timber conserve heat better than all-glass models
- seal gaps around poorly-fitting panes or doors to stop heat escaping
- consider moving less hardy plants indoors for the winter instead of heating the whole greenhouse for their sake
Choose coatings carefully
Varnishes, paints and wood treatments used on fences and outdoor furniture often contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which cause air pollution linked to health problems.
When you are choosing a paint, varnish or wood treatment, try to find the one with the lowest impact possible for the job you are doing:
- product labels should show the VOC content: choose the option with the lowest VOC content
- ‘natural’ or ‘all natural’ paints, milk paints and white washes have a lower impact than ordinary paint
- check to see if there is a hazard warning on the product label - if you have the choice, choose a product without a hazard warning
- dispose of paints, varnishes and wood treatments properly, as they can be hazardous - contact your council for guidance on disposal
- consider oiling wood products instead of painting them
- Greener DIY
- Disposal of hazardous waste
- Local councils in Northern Ireland
Use reclaimed and recycled materials
Using reclaimed or recycled materials will help save raw materials and energy used to make new items, and reduce waste:
- if you’re planning decking or wooden planters, consider using reclaimed timber from a timber yard
- improvise plant containers from interesting or unusual discarded objects such as baths, sinks or old copper pans
- choose reclaimed cast iron ornaments, if possible
- look out for products labelled as using recycled wood, metal or plastic
Encouraging Wildlife in your Garden
Encouraging birds, mammals and insects to visit and live in your garden helps to look after local wildlife, keeps valuable green spaces thriving and can help control garden pests by encouraging natural predators. From large gardens to window boxes, all homes can be made more wildlife-friendly.