It can be overwhelming to think about how to deal with climate change and its effects on our world. Where to start? While it may seem pointless, a person can make a difference with something they already like to do, and that is gardening!
Growing flowers, fruits, vegetables and other greenery is a wonderful way to add oxygen to the atmosphere, while reducing harmful carbon dioxide. There are many benefits to local wildlife and pollinators as well. This is how you can fight the climate crisis with your garden.
first Plant Native Species
Whether you have an existing garden space or want to start one, focus on cultivating native species. These are the types of plants that will naturally grow and thrive under the conditions of your specific region. Try to grow your garden as it pleases: where will the moss instinctively appear? Which ground cover is comfortable? Is it really a weed?
See what comes up without a problem, and if it's not an invasive species, it might have a place in your garden. Let native species grow side by side to ensure a healthy, maintenance-rich garden that does not need extra water or fertilization, and will be a valuable sanctuary for birds and insects.
2nd Lure Pollinators
One third of our food is dependent on pollinators such as hummingbirds, moths, butterflies, bats, flies and bees. They support and balance ecosystems, which is important for combating climate change through a healthy and vibrant environment. Fill your garden with plants that will pull these hard-working creatures and provide them with food sources.
Sunflowers and cup plants are tall, beautifully flowering plants that attract bees and provide water and food sources. Other species such as milkweed, echinacea (or cone flower), goldenrod and asters are wonderfully attractive plants, many of which grow well in containers if you do not have garden space.
3. Don't cut down to early winter
Leaving seeds, stalks and grasses for birds and other species to eat and use as shelter can be crucial to their sustainability. "Bird-friendly" plants will give them materials to use during the colder months, and some bees also winter in protected garden areas.
Some plants do not need to be cut down at all, so be sure to check which ones will benefit and which ones would rather remain. On the back, there are some plants that are susceptible to mold or other diseases – they can be cut down and destroyed, not composted or left to rot!
4th Replace grass with natural alternatives
In most regions, grass needs too much water to be environmentally friendly, not to mention the unnecessary use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that many people treat their lawns with. If you do not live in an area that receives enough rain to maintain grass without extra watering, consider the alternatives: moss and wildflower gardens require less water, provide shelter for pollinators and do not require pesticides or fertilizers. Read more about how to grow one here.
5. Use environmentally friendly methods
Switch from gas-powered lawnmowers to hand-powered lawnmowers (extra easy if you reduce the lawn for a garden!). Dig the chemical fertilizers and use organic instead – or start composting. Make your own biodegradable herbicide spray of vinegar and water, or insect repellent with soap, oil and water.
Consider your view of weeds in general – are they really inconvenient or are they plants in their own right? Dandelions are an example of so-called "weeds" that are actually beneficial. They feed pollinators, are good for compacted soil and are edible sources of calcium, iron and other vitamins that humans can consume.
6th Do not use pesticides
Pesticides seep into the soil and ultimately end up with our water systems, which in turn damages wildlife, fish and insects that we rely on for food growth. Try natural alternatives such as using other "pests" to kill unwanted ones. Plant companion species or ones that will deter unwanted bugs. Remember, not all bugs are bad! Most of them are important to your garden and have the right to their space. If you have an attack, you must take care of the inside of the outside of the house, consider using diatomaceous earth – a completely natural powder that can penetrate the shells of most problem insects such as ants and wasps.
7. Implement smart water practices
Start using the "water smarter, not harder" motto by using rainwater collection systems such as rain barrels, rain gardens and other smart water harvesting techniques. If you need to supplement during dry periods with hose water, do so early in the morning or evening, or else most of the water will evaporate in the warm midday sun. Remember that planting native species and eliminating lawn space will reduce your overall water needs.
8th Join Community Garden Groups
Many of your local gardening communities will be great sources of knowledge about native species, healthy gardening tips and may even offer plant information about plants. Look for tours of native plant gardens to give you inspiration and information about your garden. Meeting some new garden buddies on the road is a bonus.
There are many ways we can help fight the climate crisis, and planting or bending a garden is a good example. Many of you are already at it, and it is fantastic! Keep up the hard work or implement some of these new ideas to become even more sustainable in your strategy. Stick to the native, dig the chemicals and try to reduce your water needs to make sure you do your part.