Ready, set, sow: How to use your garden to combat climate change

Worried about climate change? Here’s one way to do your part, starting right from your own backyard.

Gardening in the garden
Increasing the amount of greenery in cities can have a cooling effect in urban spaces. Image: rawpixel, Pixabay

Whether it’s the shrinking of glaciers, animals being forced to relocate, ice on rivers breaking up at a much more rapid pace or trees flowering sooner, the dramatic effects of climate change are being seen all across the globe. Scientists have predicted that global temperatures will keep on creeping upwards for the next several decades, with the greenhouse gases produced as a result of human activity.

As well as finding ways to reduce our carbon footprint, we can take the fight to climate change even further by looking at how we tend to our urban gardens. Here’s how:

Start growing your own vegetables

Our personal outdoor spaces are used by the ambitious gardeners among us to replace quite a bit of food that’s purchased. This in turn reduces your carbon footprint 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. 

Choose to grow your own vegetables, whether that is by planting some seed potatoes or enhancing your garden with some cabbage plants, and you’ll also know that your food is free of chemicals. You can avoid unnecessary packaging as well, not to mention save money when it comes to your weekly food shop. 

Introduce more and more plants into your garden

Domestic gardens can act as air-conditioning systems around cities. 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 evergreen 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.  

As they provide shade, vegetation can also offer aerial cooling throughout the summer months. It’s predicted that if we increased our vegetated surfaces in urban areas by as little as 10 per cent then we could help control the summer air temperatures that climate change is bringing. This would also help reduce CO2 emissions. 

Take note too that every plant is important for improving air quality, due to them absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. With vehicle usage ever increasing, plants are playing a vital part in offsetting some of the emissions automobiles are releasing. 

Take up composting

One key way to fight back against climate change is with eco-gardening. Therefore, adding compost to your soil can provide crucial nutrients and microorganisms to the earth. If you want to cut costs, you can make your own compost using kitchen scraps, so long as it’s not meat or fish. This will also reduce the waste transported to landfill.

Greenhous gas emissions, especially methane, can be reduced through composting. This is because they lower the need to use chemical fertilisers and pesticides. It also helps soils hold any carbon dioxide and improves tilth and workability of soils—enabling the soil to either resist or assist root growth depending on the scenario. However, it’s important to carefully maintain your composting or it may reverse the desired effect. 

Consider your water use

It could soon become the standard to expect a hot and dry summer year after year. Great, right? Well, yes, for any sun lovers out there, but this could have a 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, which is a great resource for capturing some of the water that falls into our garden when it rains. 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. Not only are water butts great for giving you an alternative source of water instead of using your home’s supply, they are also effective at reducing how much water enters your property’s drains to reduce the risk of flooding.

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.

Hopefully the tips above will give you some inspiration to start working on your urban garden in order to reduce your carbon footprint and play your part in preventing global temperatures from rising any further.

Kelly Marsh is Content & Category Manager at Suttons Consumer Products.

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