There’s a lot of talk about climate change lately given the huge wildfires in the mid-west, extreme multi-year drought across the southeast, a winter so mild that there was no snow-pack to melt in Colorado, and much more.
There are many ways we can fight the impacts of climate change in our own gardens. Here are just a few:
- Put your power tools away, including lawn mowers, string trimmers, leaf blowers, string trimmers, tillers, and edgers. Most gas-powered lawn and garden equipment use a 2-stroke engine, which are notoriously energy-inefficient.
- Reduce your lawn. A single lawn mower releases more air pollution than 43 new cars driving 12,000 miles each. Gas-powered lawn equipment produces as much as one tenth of the smog-forming pollutants as all mobile sources, and that Americans use 800 billion gallons of gasoline every year in lawn maintenance activities.
- Now that you’ve reduced your lawn, you have room for more native plants, which are essential to birds, pollinators, butterflies, frogs and toads, mammals, and beneficial insects. Woody plants, such as trees and shrubs, sequester large amounts of CO² and prevent it from entering the atmosphere.
- Install a green roof. Green roofs insulate your home, making it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. This saves you money on heating and cooling bills, and lowers your use of fossil fuels and electricity. Through the process of transpiration, the vegetation on green roofs acts to cool the environment and reduce the urban heat island effect.
- A well-placed tree or windbreak can shade your home and keep it cooler in the summer and protect your home from cold winds. This reduces your consumption of heating oil and other fossil fuels.
- Remove all invasive plants from your garden. Increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide appear to favor the growth of many invasive plants over their native counterparts. Removing these plants from our landscapes will help to prevent this.
- Install rain barrels for rainwater harvest. A warming climate will decrease available potable water. Capturing rainwater for garden irrigation will help eliminate your need for the use of clean drinking water for irrigation.
- Plant locally native species. Native plants have evolved over thousands of years to your local climate conditions. Once established, native plants should not require supplemental irrigation.
- Install a rain garden to filter pollutants from storm water and slow its movement so that it can naturally be soaked into the soil and recharge groundwater aquifers.
- Keep a garden journal in which you record plant bloom dates, bird arrival dates, butterfly arrival dates and weather, temperature, and rainfall. Long term monitoring of these events will be an enormous help to scientists in tracking changing climate conditions.
If every homeowner acted on these suggestions the cumulative beneficial effect for our environment would be a great help in fighting the negative impacts of global climate change. What are you doing to help the environment in your garden? Do you have any other suggestions for actions we can take in our Ecosystem Gardens to protect the environment? Let us know in the comments below.
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