Outwardly, gardens look like sustainable spaces that help absorb excess carbon from the atmosphere. While this might be true, not all gardens help reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide. Some gardens contribute to carbon pollution. Unfortunately, most gardeners are not even aware that their gardens are a source of carbon and other greenhouse gas pollutants. Even so, it is possible to attain a net-zero garden and in some cases, create a carbon sink in your garden.
The secret to developing a carbon-free garden is to be intentional about it. Carbon emissions emanate from all areas of our lives. This is the reason why you must specifically target to create a carbon-free garden. Some factors that contribute to carbon pollution in a home garden include regular use of gas-powered mowers, use of plastic plant supports, burning of garden waste and use of artificial fertilizers among other aspects. Controlling these factors contributes to creating a carbon-free garden.
To attain a carbon-free garden, you must take a twin approach. First, aim to reduce your carbon output to net zero if possible. Secondly, aim at sequestering excess carbon from the atmosphere.
Data shows that 55% of Americans participate in gardening. With such a huge number of people actively participating in gardening, adopting carbon-free gardening is necessary. If you desire to attain a garden that is carbon-free, here are some ideas you could consider.
Use self-made compost for fertilizer
The U.N. Environmental Program recommends composting as a method of reducing carbon emissions globally. This is because the choice of fertilizer has an impact on the carbon footprint of a garden. There are many ways that composting helps reduce carbon. First, composting helps you dispose of your organic waste responsibly. Secondly, you get free manure that is also friendly to the ecosystem.
The target should be to use peat-free compost manure. When you use peat-based compost you are equally contributing to global carbon emissions. Peat is a type of soil that is collected from peatlands. This material is often sold to gardeners in the form of compost to enhance plant growth. Its disadvantage is that it is collected from peatlands without replacement. A peatland may take up to 10 years just grow one centimeter of peat and extracting them can impact the environment negatively.
It’s important to note that, peatlands are very good holding grounds for excess CO2. When excavated, this CO2 escapes back into the atmosphere leading to more pollution.
If you intend to help the world reduce carbon emissions, avoid peat compost in your garden. Secondly, avoid artificial fertilizers since they are also produced through carbon-intensive processes. Instead, compost your leftover foods at home and vegetables.
Grow native plants to reduce the use of pesticide
Pesticides used on flowers can be a major source of carbon pollution. While the pesticide itself may not directly cause carbon pollution, the production process for such items is often carbon-intensive. The EPA recommends growing native flowers for gardeners to reduce carbon pollution among other benefits. Native plants are hardy and do not require strict care. Besides their resilience to pests, they also do not require regular mowing. Native plants may thrive with or above weeds that affect most plants.
Plant trees to boost carbon sequestering
Trees play an important role in absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. As a gardener, you could play the role of carbon absorption by planting trees. You have the task of finding appropriate trees for carbon sequestration that thrive in your locality. Ideally, you should plant trees that are native to your locality. However, if they are not good at carbon absorption, consider better alternatives.
Some of the best trees for carbon capture include silver maple, London plane, American sweetgum and pines, among others. You do not have to turn your backyard into a forest to make an impact. Just spread trees throughout your garden to help remove excess carbon from the atmosphere. With that said, avoid growing trees close to your house. If a tree is too close to the house it could cause damage when roots penetrate or if branches fall.
Grow grass alternatives to avoid mowing
Mowing is a major contributor to carbon emissions. Unfortunately, most gardeners still rely on gas-powered mowers. If you are into gardening, try and find an alternative to mowing. You may grow plants that do not require regular mowing or opt for alternatives to gas-powered mowers.
There are many plants that do not require regular mowing. Some examples of plants you can grow in your garden include clove, chamomile and wildflowers. Alternatively, you may grow grass but avoid using a gas-powered mower. Instead, use an electric mowers, which are more efficient and affordable and offer a better alternative to gas mowers.
Grow your own plant supports
Growing your plant supports goes a long way in reducing your garden’s carbon footprint. Besides reducing carbon pollution, planting supports help get rid of unnecessary waste. Most people use artificial plant supports, which are sometimes made out of polluting materials such as plastic. Such can have multiple negative effects on the environment. Instead of going for artificial supports, grow short trees and shrubs that may act as support for climbing plants.
The concept of carbon-free gardening is quite new, but it is attainable. The beauty of it all is that you do not have to make significant changes to your routine. Minor adjustments, such as changing from artificial to compost, can have a major impact. Where possible, help your garden to absorb some carbon from the atmosphere to balance the equation.
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