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Your Guide to Sustainable Gardening: Names & Meanings

written by: Amy Carson•edited by: BStone•updated: 7/3/2010

When reading about gardening, you might have run across alternative names for sustainable gardening, or wonder what other activities sustainable gardening encompasses. Read on for a handy glossary of sustainable gardening names and meanings.

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    garden With the trend towards fresh, local, and organic foods, as well as the green movement in general, people are becoming more and more interested in sustainable gardening. Just what is it, and how do apparently similar terms, such as organic gardening or biodynamic gardening, relate? This article will delve into some of these alternative names for sustainable gardening and explain exactly what they are.

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    First, What is Sustainable Gardening?

    Sustainable gardening is a set of home and vegetable garden practices that both save you money and help to improve and protect the environment. Sustainable gardening aims to reduce energy use, conserve water, maintain healthy soils, reduce material going into landfills, protect local wildlife, and keep invasive plant species out of the garden and area.

    In flower gardens, sustainable gardening could involve selecting local plant species in order to conserve water and not plant foreign, invasive plant species. In vegetable gardens, it may involve composting to both nourish the soil and keep organic waste out of the landfill, and companion planting to invite beneficial animal species to your garden.

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    Organic Gardening

    Organic gardening, while often used interchangeably with sustainable gardening, is more a subset. While sustainable methods do not necessarily prohibit chemicals, organic gardening attempts to garden strictly without harmful chemicals, as well as focusing on organic soil amendments.

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    Natural Gardening

    Natural gardeners think like organic gardeners, but they're a bit more relaxed in their approach. While organic gardening often prohibits soil amendments that include preservatives or colorings, natural gardening will allow products with such items in them as long as they are still considered to be safe and natural.

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    Biodynamic Gardening

    Biodynamic gardening takes organic gardening to another level. Proponents of this eco-friendly method believe timing is important in gardening, and make gardening choices based upon astrological signs, season of the year, religion, or more. Biodynamic gardeners do this not only to maximize crop yields, but also to maximize their connection, physically and spiritually, to nature.

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    Permaculture Gardening

    The word "permaculture" in permaculture gardening is an amalgam of the words "permanent agriculture." Permaculture was originally envisioned as a way to not only increase sustainability of the garden but also to reverse environmental degradation that may have occurred through modern gardening practices of the 20th century. Basically, this method is organic gardening taken even further: the permaculture gardener uses materials available on their own property for mulching, composting, fertilizing, etc. and doesn't buy any of these items at stores.

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    All of these alternative names for sustainable gardening describe subtle differences in the approach to gardening but they all have one thing in common. No matter whether the type of gardening is called organic, natural, biodynamic, permaculture, or sustainable, they are all ways to describe environmentally conscious gardening. Most gardeners find themselves practicing bits from each of these earth-oriented philosophies, so there's no need to feel pigeonholed. Simply enjoy whichever gardening styles suit you best!

Learn the Basics of Sustainable Gardening

Learn the basics of sustainable gardening in this two-part series. In part one, you'll be introduced to the concept of "sustainable gardening," and discover what concepts it encompasses. In part two, you'll learn about designing a sustainable vegetable garden: what it means, and tips and tricks.
  1. Your Guide to Sustainable Gardening: Names & Meanings
  2. Designing a Sustainable Vegetable Garden: Tips & Tricks