Gardening is one of the most wholesome and rewarding hobbies. For this reason, most gardeners want to keep their outdoor space as eco-friendly as possible to give back to the planet. One of the ways to make your garden environmentally friendly is to focus on growing a low-carbon garden. We’ve put together a guide explaining what this means and how to do it.
Why should we lower our carbon emissions?
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that protects the Earth and holds in heat, ensuring the planet is at a comfortable temperature. However, with the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere getting unnaturally high, the greenhouse effect is being heightened. This is one of the main factors causing global warming. Lowering our own personal carbon emissions is one way to help combat the negative effect that these excess emissions are having on the environment.
How can you do this in your own garden?
Sustainable design and plant selection
The fundamentals of your outdoor space are the way you design it and the plants you choose to grow. So, when you’re planning a low-carbon garden, these are the first factors you should think of.
When choosing your plants, keep in mind that the fewer resources they need, the more you can reduce your carbon emissions. For example, drought-tolerant plants require less water, and pest-resistant plants require fewer pesticides or other control methods. The production of both of these resources ends up releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, so the less you use, the better.
Some examples of drought-tolerant plants are:
Click here to read more about growing a drought-resistant garden.
Your design choices can also have an impact. For example, you could use xeriscaping, which is a garden design method that minimises how much water is used.
A key aspect of low-carbon gardening is maintaining a healthy soil. By taking care of your soil, you can unlock its full potential, offering you loads of eco-friendly benefits. Here are some ways to keep your soil healthy:
- Test your soil every now and then to check the pH and nutrient levels.
- If you’re growing fruits and veg, use a cover crop in the off-season. This helps to maintain the structure of your soil and keep soil microorganisms busy. In short, this gives the best chance of increasing the organic matter content while you’re not actively using the soil.
- Add in any necessary amendments to keep your soil balanced and full of nutrients.
One of the benefits of healthy soil is its ability to retain more water, therefore helping you with water conservation. Saving water is important for a low-carbon garden because of the emissions produced in the treatment of water for our homes and gardens. Here are some other ways you could conserve water in your garden:
- Harvest rainwater.
- Mulch your soil to reduce evaporation.
- Grow drought-tolerant plants that don’t require as much water.
- Xeriscape – design your garden in a way that saves water.
- Use drip irrigation to slowly release the right amount of water to your plants.
If you want some more information on this, click here for a full article on saving water in your garden.
Carbon sequestration is the capture and long-term storage of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It’s an important process in mitigating the effects of excess carbon dioxide. Plants are great at sequestering carbon. This is especially true for large shrubs and trees with established root systems; they can store carbon in all parts of their biomass.
Soil is also a useful tool in carbon sequestration. Cultivating healthy soil with plenty of organic matter is a great way to help your garden store as much carbon as possible. Avoid tilling your soil, which can disturb its structure and release carbon.
Reduce, reuse, recycle
Using unnecessary resources is a surefire way to increase your overall carbon footprint. Most materials and resources have a manufacturing process that releases greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. To combat this, follow the three R’s: reduce how much you’re using and buying, reuse materials and resources whenever you can, and recycle things you can no longer use.
There are loads of ways you could recycle your garden waste. For example, you could make your own compost or leaf mould. Not only are you reducing your carbon footprint, but your garden will also be healthier with the end product. Click here for a guide to making your own compost to reduce waste and keep your garden happy.
Sustainable garden features
The features you use in your garden can be just as important as the plants. Remember to do some research about the most eco-friendly materials to use for different structures or accessories in your garden. Solar-powered lighting is a great example of this – solar energy is a renewable resource that allows you to bring your garden to life after dark.
Another eco-friendly garden feature is the use of permeable surfaces, such as gravel. These kind of surfaces prevent runoff and help to top up groundwater, making it easier to save water.
Growing a low-carbon garden is a great way to do your bit for the environment. However you do it, lowering your emissions helps to ease your carbon footprint and keep your outdoor space thriving.