These 5 companion planting tips will make your garden more eco-friendly

Drawing on the wisdom of companion planting can reduce the use of harmful pesticides in your garden

companion planting: herbs in a vegetable garden
(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

Are you trying to create an eco-friendly garden? Or perhaps you are trying to start organic gardening? Whatever your gardening ambition, many of us are now aware that the use of pesticides in gardens is not ideal: pesticides harm pollinators, are unsafe for pets, and can pollute garden water features. 

Fortunately, nature has her own, age-old solution to the problem of pests in the garden: companion planting. Great for both maintaining the overall health of your garden and for growing specific flowers or crops, companion planting is an effective and completely safe way to make your garden more resilient. And – even better, it often involves plants that are low maintenance and easy to grow. Here are our top companion gardening tips* and be sure to check out our garden ideas page when you're done.

1. Break up your planting scheme

Try not to plant too much of any one plant in the same spot. Dense clusters of the same plant will invite pests; instead, break up your favourite plants with others. One of the best pairings is roses and thyme: the thyme will protect your rose bushes from aphids. 

2. Incorporate herbs

Herbaceous perennials are probably the best natural way to protect your garden from pests. In fact, they're once of the best type of plants in lots of different ways: great for pollinators, sweet-smelling, and often edible. Weave rosemary, thyme, and lavender between other plants, and the herbs will protect your borders and crops (especially carrots, tomatoes and radishes) from critters. 

Find out more about planting a herb garden in our guide. 

3. Use intercropping to prevent excessive weed growth

If you've been layering your planting scheme by alternating slow growers and fast growers, try the opposite technique: intercropping means using all available space in the garden with plants that grow at a similar pace. This way, there's less chance given to weeds to spread. 

This is a particularly good option for creating a cottage garden. And for advice on how to grow your own, checkout our guide.

4. Encourage biodiversity 

The more different plants attractive to different species of pollinators and other beneficial insects you plant, the more resilient against pests your garden becomes. Bees, butterflies, earthworms, and beetles all perform valuable service for our gardens and should be encouraged. So, ideally, aim for 10+ different wildlife friendly species in your garden.

How to create a bee-friendly garden.

5. Keep plant bullies in check

Some plants really want all the garden to themselves and will stunt the growth of other plants. For example, cabbages will kill all your tomatoes if they can, and blackberry bushes will grow over everything else, eventually. Keep a close eye on mint, too: while it is a beneficial plant, it can grow and spread very quickly. The same applies to some climbers, especially jasmine and passion fruit. 

For more advice and gardening inspiration, head to our garden hub page. 

*Tips provided by Garden Buildings Direct