Climate change is a global phenomenon that has impacted everything from our regional weather to our backyard habitats. We are seeing temperature increases, shifting precipitation patterns, and rapid changes in growing seasons. Invasive, non-native plants, animals, and insect ranges are expanding, making them more apt to out-compete native species.
There are actions every gardener can take to make their gardens and green spaces more resilient against climate change. We can be an important part of the solution and help stabilize the climate.
Add Native Plant Diversity. Native plants help maintain important connections between pollinators, breeding birds, insects and other wildlife. Native plants generally require less water and fertilizer, and are more resilient when it comes to facing new pests and disease pressure. Planting a diverse palette of plants supports more pollinators and wildlife.
Remove Any Invasive Plants. Eliminate invasives from your garden, such as Garlic Mustard, Purple Loostrife, Giant Knotweed, Asiatic Sand Sedge, and Autumn Olive. Identifying, controlling, and removing them requires a plan of action. Consider how, and when to remove them, as well as a disposal method.
Some plants such as Giant Knotweed and Garlic Mustard will easily resprout and spread further, if pieces of root are left behind in the soil. Properly dispose of invasive species by composting, bagging and removing waste to a landfill or burning in a designated area. It is important that invasive plants are correctly identified to plan the best way to manage them.
Plant More Trees. Planting trees help to shade and cool urban heat islands, absorb carbon dioxide, and improve air quality. Planting trees near the home can reduce energy used for cooling in the summer. Shade benefits wildlife as well.
Reduce the Use of Gas-Powered Machines and Tools. When replacing tools, choose rechargeable electric-powered, or use hand tools when practical.
Conserve Water. Accomplish water conservation by using mulch to help keep the soil moist in between watering, installing rain barrels, using drip irrigation, and adjusting the watering schedule. Many irrigation systems are set to turn on, regardless if there was a recent rain storm. Invest in a smart watering system that is connected to a weather station app. Systems are available that will automatically skip unnecessary watering with features like rain skip, wind skip, freeze skip, and more, for around two hundred dollars.
We have found that many times, the irrigation is set for too-frequent waterings, or set for too-long a watering cycle. An inch of water per week is adequate watering for newly planted perennials, trees, and shrubs.
Fertilize wisely. Synthetic fertilizer production is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Feeding the soil with compost provides the best nutrients to the soil, without using significant amounts of energy, and reduces fertilizer runoff.
We encourage homeowners to consider all of these strategies in taking care of lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers, and vegetables to manage and adapt to the challenges experienced with our changing climate.