Healthy Spanish Gardens

By Clodagh and Dick Handscombe active gardeners and authors living in Spain for more than twenty years.

Most expatriates move to Spain with the intention of a less stressful and healthy outdoor life than the one experienced in northern Europe. However that is not always achieved and at times the garden can be the cause. We therefore list some of the things to be avoided.

  1. Don’t take on a garden beyond your physical capabilities now or in ten or twenty years time. For most a thousand metres will make more sense than five or 10.000. If you have purchased an enormous piece of land for isolation, peace and a low price and it is too large just develop a manageable area around the house and leave the rest to go wild within the local fire regulations which may require you to strim it once a year.
  2. If you take on a new garden with heavy Spanish clay, steep slopes or hidden rocks or often all three get fit before you start especially if you enjoyed a sedentary life before coming to Spain.
  3. Get used to working early and late to avoid the midday sun…and wear a woven straw hat which has a cooling effect.
  4. Use ergonomic tools , especially Secateurs and mattocks and minimise the use of a fork , spade and pickaxe. Get help with the heavier jobs.
  5. Grow healthy vegetables from day one so that they can be enjoyed while the garden is carved out ..which could take a number of years! Like wise plant a few fruit trees early on for the benefit of their blossom as well as fruit.
  6. Avoid the need to constantly use insecticides and fungicides by avoiding over watering plants, especially the more drought resistant plants (see Part Four of our book Your Garden in Spain). When you have to spray use ecological products as explained in each of our books. This will help maintain a chemical free environment and garden shed.
  7. If you are allergic to pollens don’t plant pines, bottlebrush , acacia and male carob trees.
  8. Plant plenty of aromatic herbs for their aromatherapeutic effects as well healthy culinary and medicinal uses. We will discuss this in more detail in our next article.
  9. Avoid spiky plants that can cause accidents alongside terraces and paths or avoid altogether especially if children are likely to visit.
  10. Ensure you retain or plant trees and large shrubs for summer shade and sheltered winter sun.
  11. Wear knee pads or kneelers when doing low work.
  12. Chose a peaceful unpolluted location.
  13. Read also our earlier articles on holistic and slow gardens.

© Clodagh and Dick Handscombe