Climate change and sustainability in the garden
We all know the effects climate change is having on the world’s weather, but not many of us will have considered just how significant this might be to our gardens.
What could gardening in a changing climate mean for us and our green spaces?
There are various possibilities and opportunities that could arise for your garden, not least the array of different new plants that may thrive where they once couldn’t, as well as the current crop of established species that may wither away and become a thing of the past.
The centre-piece of many gardens – the lawn – can be particularly vulnerable in too extreme dry conditions, as well as wet. Milder temperatures and higher rainfall which are predicted to occur in the west of England, can extend the growing season and require lawn mowing consistently throughout the year. On the other hand, the drier east may make grass struggle in the heat and maintaining a perfect looking lawn could be a challenge.
Environmentally friendly habits that you can get into relating to your lawn would include avoiding pesticides and fertilisers with a high-carbon count, as these can be released into the atmosphere and cause more harm than good. You can also install and use water butts, so you can recycle rainwater and use this instead of drawing valuable water from the tap.
If you believe you will be cutting your lawn all year round, there are a few sustainable tips that we can give that will help you to become a more eco-friendly gardener.
Switching from a petrol-based mower to an electric one not only reduces your carbon footprint, but you can incorporate other sustainable methods that you couldn’t before. For example, these more energy-efficient pieces of equipment are not only more environmentally friendly, but you can help to charge them with the likes of solar power, using pv panels to pump clean energy in to your home’s electricity grid to charge your gardening tools.
A phrase that we may begin to hear more of over the next few years is ‘zero-waste’; a lifestyle choice that aims to reduce an individual’s waste to practically nothing, which is clearly positive for the Earth.
Ways in which you can reduce the waste that you produce, would not only include using garden compost heaps to recycle plants and waste for better purposes, but buying tools and equipment for their quality and not their price.
While you may look for bargains when you do your tool shopping, the likelihood is that the cheaper they are, the more likely they’re going to be to break down. By spending a little extra money on wooden and metal tools, you’ll be saving in the long term by not having to replace them any time soon.
Depending on where you are situated in the UK, you could see longer and more frequent drought seasons, or more intense wet seasons. Drought-friendly plants such as agaves or blanket flowers are perfect for gardens that will see less rainfall, and taking gardening tips from the likes of places such as the south of France will help in creating a garden that doesn’t look so dreary in the dry seasons.
Other drought-tolerant flowers and plants include purple verbena, or latana, which are great for attracting butterflies. Black-eyed Susans and zinnias of all colours are also great looking plants that can brighten up flower beds.
In terms of moisture favouring plants and flowers, while few will be able to survive and thrive in waterlogged or flooded conditions, the likes of marsh marigolds, astilbe, and snowdrops may be successfully grown in soils that are permanently moist, as long as the soil contains enough oxygen.
Regardless of your situation, it is recommended to store high-quality mulch or compost year-round, which will not only retain soil moisture in dry weather but can even protect soil from heavy rain when the inevitable change in British weather occurs. Adding fallen leaves or various food scraps to a mulch/compost pile or bin will be broken down by bacteria and critters so you can spread it over your garden patches when you feel like they need it.
With the world’s changing climate well into it’s stride, it may seem like there’s little we can do individually to help, and just adapt to the consequences. However, by changing a few little habits at a time, the ball will begin to roll and our effects on the climate will collectively begin to diminish.