green roof

Green living

There are plenty of ways to make your home more eco-friendly without expending much effort. Here are four ideas you can easily introduce at your place over the summer break.

Photo courtesy Designer Constructions Group

Author

Kate Veteri

Melting ice cream, swimming and sunshine. The onset of summer brings a restored appreciation for nature and can herald the perfect time for home touch-ups and improvements. Many homeowners are looking to products, materials and other inclusions that can improve their home’s liveability, so why not do the same at your place? 

Implementing sustainable practices can save you money in the long-run and they don’t always have to be as big as a renovation. Here are a few small-scale ideas you can do at home, or for your next client project, to make it greener as we enter the New Year. 

 
native plant bee

Native plants attract beneficial insects to your garden

think plants

Plants are very versatile and are the easiest inclusion to make your home or project more eco-friendly. They can thrive indoors, outdoors, in various climates, produce fresh food or just serve as an ornament. 

Lawn is a popular choice in backyards, however, it’s often costly to maintain and isn’t the most sustainable option. By reducing or removing your lawn and replacing it with other plants, you can make the space easier to maintain. 

If you don’t have a large expanse of available space, or want to optimise the backyard to suit kids or pets, then look to the roof for an alternative. Applying a green roof is a unique way to get the garden off the ground. 

A green roof, as its name suggests, is a roof covered in vegetation planted over a waterproofing membrane. The roof can be further protected with additional layers such as a root barrier and drainage systems. For a green roof option that’s a bit simpler to install you can consider things such as container gardens where the plants are grown in pots. 

Green roofs are beneficial in that they also absorb rainwater – saving time allocated to watering plants – and provide another habitat for wildlife. 

When looking for possible plants to include try searching for natives that can attract beneficial insects. Some popular choices include Banksias, Wattles, Waratahs, Bottlebrushes, Kangaroo Paws, Teatrees and Ferns for cool climates. The purpose of attracting these insects is to provide your garden with a natural barrier against pests, limiting the need for harmful pesticides. 

Moving indoors, there are a range of options to choose from. There are the traditional household plants, such as the Swiss cheese plant, fiddle leaf fig and peace lily, or you can go for something that makes a louder statement such as a green wall. These soil-less vertical gar-dens are applied to internal walls and feature panels of plants which are attached to structures that can either be free-standing or inbuilt. Some green walls can even be installed with an automatic watering system. 

Besides being aesthetically pleasing, green walls also provide an extra level of insulation and reduce noise levels. Introduce one into your kitchen for easy access to a variety of herbs. 

 
green roof

Help to preserve water by using greywater on your plants rather than water straight from your tap

 

Green roofs also help to absorb rainwater

water warriors

As water conservation becomes a hot topic in times of drought there are steps you can take to ensure your home or your projects save water.

One of the best ways is by using greywater on your plants rather than water straight from your tap. Greywater is gently used water from bathroom sinks, showers, baths and washing machines (it can be generated from all household streams except toilets). Many people think that greywater is dirty and can’t be reused but in fact it’s actually a beneficial source of irrigation water for gardens. 

Greywater is safe to use on most plants including those with fruit and vegetables. However, when irrigating these plants it’s best to not let the water make direct contact with the edible parts of the fruit or vegetables. It’s also best to wash your produce before consumption.

Piping greywater directly outside is the easiest way to reach plants or fruit trees. A simple flexible hose running from the water source to the garden is one such diversion system. Others include diverter valves, which allows homeowners to redirect water to the garden or sewer; surge tanks that store the excess water to prevent flooding; filters to remove hair and other large debris; and pumps, which elevates water uphill to higher areas of the garden. 

 
paint

Non-VOC paints are simpler to dispose of

paint it healthier

The ultimate summertime home touch-up comes in a paint tin. A fresh splash of paint has the power to breathe new life into your home and overhaul the feel of the interior space. 
Traditionally, paint contained volatile organic compounds (VOC) which helps make it easier to spread and more durable, but it’s since been discovered to have negative effects on the health of homeowners. Because of this, most paint manufacturers now produce non-VOC paints. These new paints are durable, cost-effective and less harmful to occupants and the environment. It also eliminates the need to vacate the home while painting. 

Non-VOC paints are still as durable as traditional paints and can cover flaws on previous coats. It’s also much easier to clean up. The water-based paints can be cleaned with soap and water, and can be disposed of more simply because it isn’t deemed hazardous.

 
cat

With an enclosed cat run your pet can still run around and enjoy the garden without getting too far

feline follies

For most people your home wouldn’t be complete without your furry friends perusing the halls and gardens. They are an important consideration in your everyday life so why not do what you can to make your home suited for them as well? 

New suburbs across Australia are implementing cat confinement initiatives with hopes to reduce the number of household cats roaming free, and to protect native wildlife. 

Cats are natural hunters and often attack native wildlife, usually during times between dusk and dawn. Keeping them indoors not only reduces the number of harmed animals but it also helps to protect the environment. 

Many people also neglect the fact that letting your cat roam free puts them in danger as well as other animals. While outdoors they are susceptible to catching diseases, such as FIV that has no cure, poisons, traps and cars.

However, by installing a cat run off the back of your house your cat can still enjoy the garden without getting too far. Try cat-proof fly-screens to make the outdoor cage, and include scratching posts and items for them to hide under or climb. 

The confinement of dogs to the backyard has been around for a while and they now pose less risk to our native environment. But they still truly are a man’s best friend when it comes to sharing the enjoyment of the outdoors, so put on your shoes, grab the lead and set out to explore together (and perhaps shed those pesky summer holiday kilos while you’re at it).  

 

clean community  

For something a little more people orientated, get involved with your local community by organising or joining a public clean up. Local clean ups are a great way to meet new people and band together to make public areas more enjoyable for everyone. 

If you’re not sure where to get started visit Clean Up Australia, a charity created to inspire communities to clean up, fix up and conserve our environment. The company keeps you updated on upcoming clean up events and what you can do in your everyday life to help the environment. 

Post your clean up event on social media with the global trending environment awareness hashtag #trashtag

 

Related Articles

Heaven on earth

Let the lights shine down on your next holiday and open the golden gates to a world of colour, history and sustainable regrowth.

Dream of sleep?

There are many reasons why people experience a disturbed sleep that impacts functioning in the workplace.

Encouraging healthy thinking

While there is particular attention of mental health during October, it’s important to manage the responsibility of workplace mental health throughout the year.

Concrete jungle

Malaysia is known for its vast array of architecture, but travellers may not know that it is home to masses of forests and wildlife.

Join more than 120,000 like-minded subscribers