The use of mulches in the home garden is a must. Huge benefits can be achieved in moisture retention, weed reduction and general soil improvements. However, when selecting mulch think about its origin. Does it come from native forests, or plantation timber? It is best to use materials that are from plantations in preference to material from felled native forest. Pea straw and lucerne mulches are also plantation crops, a sustainable way of producing mulch. However, lucerne in particular is an irrigated crop with high water requirements, so its use is best avoided or used only in small amounts.
Many attractive garden designs utilize wooden sleepers, whether as retaining walls, for raised beds, path borders or as steps. Unfortunately, because they are so popular as a material there is the tendency to cut down our beautiful native Redgum trees to make new sleepers. Plantation timber sleepers such as Hoop Pine or Blue Gum (which are native timbers and the best choice, if you can source them) are a good alternative to new Redgum and will last a comparable number of years. If Redgum sleepers are a must, then ex-railway sleepers may be a recycled alternative. But beware they have usually been impregnated with creosote which you wouldn’t want for your veggie garden.
Jarrah and teak are popular timbers for outdoor furniture. Be aware that teak is a rainforest timber, sourced from Asia, and Jarrah is logged from old growth Eucalypt forests in WA. Harvesting of these timbers results in the destruction of valuable forest ecosystems in Australasia. Garden furniture made from reclaimed or plantation timber has less of an impact on the environment.
Jarrah and Karri edging are other popular landscaping materials. These are also sourced from old growth Eucalypt forests. A good alternative is recycled plastic edging, which comes in a range of colours, lasts longer and has no splinters!