It’s evident across the globe that climate change is having huge effects on the environment. On rivers ice is breaking up earlier than it should, while glaciers are shrinking. Elsewhere, animals are having to relocate, and trees are blossoming sooner than anticipated. Scientists have predicted that, due to greenhouse gases that are produced by human activity, the earth’s temperatures are going to continue to rise.
But, how can we all get on board and help combat climate change? While there are many ways for us to cut our carbon footprint, there are several ways in which the urban garden can benefit our environment. After all, according to the Royal Horticulture Society (RHS), with more than 85% of the British population living in towns and cities, our gardens make up a quarter of total urban areas in many cities.
Have more plants in our gardens
Domestic gardens in our cities can work in the same way as an air-conditioning system does. Did you know that the shelter of trees and hedges can act as insulation in the winter to help bring down energy consumption and heating costs? Place your shrubs and bushes carefully around your property to reduce the speed of the air movement reaching your building. However, make sure you don’t create any unwanted wind tunnels directed towards your house.
Shade from vegetation can also provide aerial cooling in the summer. It’s predicted that If we increased our vegetated surfaces in urban areas by as little as 10% then we could help control the summer air temperatures that climate change is bringing. This would also help reduce CO2 emissions. While larger plants and trees can clearly have benefits, concerning figures released by the RHS, (The Royal Horticultural Society), found that nearly one in four UK front gardens are entirely paved, and over five million don’t have a single plant growing in it. London was the worst culprit and the impact of this is raising urban temperatures and the loss of biodiversity.
Due to the fact they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, all forms of plants are crucial to improving the quality of the air we breathe. With vehicle usage ever increasing, plants are playing a vital part in offsetting some of the emissions automobiles are releasing.
For some, the hotter and drier summers that could become the norm are great. However, this could have a severe knock-on effect for our gardens — which in turn will continue to affect our environment. So, what should you do? If you don’t already have one, get a water butt. If you do have one, add another! Catching rain water to use on your floral displays and lawn will help you minimise your mains water usage, thus helping the environment and aiding self-sufficiency.
As the temperatures rise, the amount of household water used in the garden increases by over 30%. This is where a water butt can be an effective tool — especially with hosepipe bans becoming more regular. Another way to cut your water usage is by re-using any ‘grey water’ which has previously been used to wash dishes or have a bath.
Eco-gardening is crucial if we are to combat climate change. Add compost to your soil can provide crucial nutrients and microorganisms to the earth. If you want to cut costs too, instead of buying compost, you can also use kitchen scraps, so long as it’s not meat or fish. This will also reduce the waste transported to landfill. Composting can effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially methane, by reducing the need to use chemical fertilisers and pesticides. It also helps soils hold any carbon dioxide and improves tilth and workability of soils. However, it’s important to carefully maintain your composting or it may reverse the desired effect.
Grow your own vegetables
If you’re an ambitious gardener, your yard could help you replace up to 20% of all bought food, which in turn would reduce your carbon footprint by up to 68lbs of C02 each year. This is thanks to several factors, including the time it takes to get your food to your plate being cut considerably. It’s estimated that the average distance your food travels before it’s consumed is a staggering 1,500 miles, meaning that transportation of the goods is burning fossil fuels.
Not only this but growing your own food can let you know you are growing produce without using chemicals. It also avoids any unnecessary packaging and saves you money from your shopping list. Why not seed potatoes or try to grow vegetables today and see how you can benefit.
Climate change isn’t going to halt over night, but there are definitely aspects we can help with starting from our own home. If we all sorted our gardens, we could have a positive effect and help protect our planet.