Environmentalists have celebrated Earth Day since 1970 to activate the environmental movement around the world. This year Earth Day falls on Sunday, April 22nd and this post is to celebrate the environmental efforts gardeners make around the world.
Gardeners are environmentally conscious people who make a difference every time they dig in the dirt. When resources are invested in a garden, nature becomes a huge component of a gardener’s life. All of a sudden weather patterns, bugs, animals, and soil become important and it becomes easier to see how everything’s interconnected.
Gardening provides habitat and food sources for native birds, bugs, animals and bees. By choosing to create a garden, it helps restore destroyed ecosystem and let’s people live in harmony with wildlife while reducing the impact on the local environment.
Plants are also great at cleaning the carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere. They absorb the CO2 from the air, capturing the carbon particles and releasing oxygen into the air. This cleans the air and helps reduce the impact that we have on global climate change. A happy Win-Win situation. The Union for Concerned Scientists shared tips on gardening for climate change in their publication, ‘The Climate-Friendly Gardener: A Guide to Combating Global Warming from the Ground Up.’
Here are the 5 tips outlined in the publication for keeping carbon in the soil and CO2 out of the air.
Step 1: Minimize Carbon-Emitting Inputs
Some gardening equipment and products emit carbon into the air, negating the positive environmental benefits of the garden. Here are a few of the carbon-emitting inputs used in gardening:
- Gasoline-powered tools; such as lawn mowers and leaf blowers
- Synthetic fertilizers
- Pesticides; insecticides, herbicides and fungicides
Try to replace these carbon emitters with manual or organic solutions when possible.
Step 2: Don’t Leave Garden Soil Naked
Soil is typically left bare when the plants aren’t growing. This can leave the soil vulnerable to erosion, weeds and carbon loss. Using a cover crop during the winter months covers the soil and helps avoid nitrogen losses, absorb carbon, avoid weeds, and absorb rain water. When you turn the soil over in the Spring, the ground cover provides soil fertility and a productive garden.
Experts recommend grasses, cereal grains or legumes that can be grown during the fall and winter months as suitable ground covers.
Step 3: Plant Trees and Shrubs
The amount of CO2 removed from the atmosphere depends on the size and speed of growth of the plants, making trees a hero of climate change. Aside from removing carbon from the air, trees also reduce the amount of carbon released into the air. Well placed trees can shade or block wind from surrounding buildings which impacts the energy use inside. For this reason, trees can stop CO2 emissions before they start.
Step 4: Expand Recycling to the Garden
Turn leaves, grass, woody garden clippings, dead garden plants and kitchen waste into mulch or compost and use it in the garden. By re-using waste in the garden you will reduce methane emissions and increase the garden’s soil nutrients, a win-win solution.
Step 5: Think Long and Hard about Your Lawn
Your lawn likely contributes to the largest number of plants in your yard. As the grass grows in the Spring and Summer months, the lawn quickly absorbs the CO2 and is a green alternative over gravel or cement. Another trick is to leave the grass alone after mowing; the fallen blades of grass decompose and trap carbon in the soil while providing added nutrients.
Hopefully this Earth Day encourages you to Plant Something… Bee Friendly!
Find a garden centre near you on our interactive map – the world will thank you!