Have you noticed that spring is coming earlier, that plants are blooming at odd times, or that rains are more intense? If so, it’s likely you’re witnessing the first stages of climate change – and how we plan and manage our gardens will have to change. More and more scientists agree that we’re locked into a global temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius, which is a number we’re told we can’t cross in order to maintain our planet’s equilibrium.
Your garden can make a significant difference in the fight against climate change. We can use trees, shrubs, and vines to shade our homes and reduce energy use while sequestering carbon from the air. The plants we choose can be composed largely of natives, which are genetically hardwired to tackle local weather extremes. And lawn-reducing planting beds that are thick and lush, just like we’d see in nature, make added contributions to minimizing carbon footprints while providing essential habitat for diverse wildlife.
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- Plant Trees and Shrubs Strategically
We can reduce our carbon footprint by employing plants to cool and even warm our home. Even flowers and grasses can help.
- Use Adaptable Native Plants Amid Weather Extremes
It’s important that native plants come from open-pollinated seed with local origins, which will make them genetically predisposed to thriving in your area. Native plants play also buffer climate change when it comes to supporting species diversity. Many pollinators (moths, butterflies, bees) have evolved special relationships with many native plants. Lots of our native bees species forage for pollen on specific plant species, syncing their lifecycle around the expected bloom time of those species.
Butterfly and moth caterpillars also have specialized relationships with plants, able to eat only specific plants – like monarchs and milkweed or the endangered dotted skipper, which lays eggs on switchgrass.
Adopt a More Naturalistic Landscape Style
Removing some lawn and designing thicker garden beds with evocative layers of plants – from groundcovers to ornamental grasses to shrubs and trees – will shade out weeds and eradicate the need for wood mulch, all while sequestering carbon and cooling the air. This naturalistic design – one that emulates how wilder nature works – will also support more wildlife, like bees and butterflies who have coevolved with plants, and the 96 percent of bird species that feed insects to their young.
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