The Key Changes That’ll Make Your Garden Environmentally Friendly
Despite their outwardly green exterior, the modern American garden could often be doing more to benefit the environment – for example, the average well-tended lawn contributes to climate change. Smithsonian Mag reported that closely-monitored green grass will not sequester carbon, and in fact releases nitrous oxide. The result is that the homeowner’s association style perfect lawn, like paved areas, has an overall positive carbon swing.
From paved areas, to thin topsoil, to water wastage, there’s a wide range of areas where a garden could perform a little better for the environment. Much is concerned with the plants you grow, and the city of LA can help with gardening to get those plants up and running. With the state facing acute challenges from climate change, it’s a good time to look into change.
Adapting your foliage
Take a look at your green areas and think about what plants populate them. With the international market there for the taking, many people will introduce foreign species for color. However, if you’re willing to stick to South Bay native plant species – often characterized by succulents – you can be doing a favor in a couple of ways. First off, it is generally better for the all-round ecology of a region to stick by it’s natural flora. Secondly, natural foliage can have a positive effect in terms of groundwater retention, according to the LA Daily News, which will help with everything from providing environmentally friendly water for your pool to preventing drought. Water is a key and sometimes rare resource in California, and represents the front of the climate change challenge.
Assessing your top soils
Having efficient and effective soils is high on the local government agenda and this is demonstrated by California’s Healthy Soils Initiative. This agency has found that increasing organic matter in soils by just 1% will enhance water holding capacity by 3.7%. Other beneficial effects are found in the quality of the plants being grown and their resistance to disease and, crucially, carbon sequestration. How can you implement this in the home? To return to the effects of a grass lawn, having a biodiverse and ‘wild’ lawn is a great way to develop a healthy topsoil. The HSI have stated that diversity is crucial to creating a soil web that has those beneficial effects. With a more efficient water retention system in place, you can look to streamlining and maximizing the amount of water you save on a daily basis.
Developing water retention
According to the US Geological Service, the 2012-2016 California drought was one of the worst on record, with water runoff levels at their lowest levels since the 2001-2002 dry spell, demonstrating a trend in line with global climate change. The result is that water conservation is more important than ever. Consider using a water butt and condensation traps to conserve any precipitate. Use your soil to help trap water as a sort of garden aquifer. Finally, make sure every last drop you devote to your garden is worth it – utilizing the succulents native to the South Bay in your ensemble will make it that much easier, given most benefit from a degree of careful neglect.
California is a huge, well populated and resource intensive state – but it’s also a progressive one. Threatened by climate change acutely and in the long term, change has to be made at all levels to do right by the planet and conserve precious quality of life. If homeowners can look away from the perfect, all-green American lawn, and begin to promote garden ecology and saving every precious drop of water, everyone will be better off for it.
Photo credit: Krystina Rogers/Unsplash