Going Wild in our Gardens for Climate Action

There are plenty of ways you can take action against climate change in your own garden, and most of these actions benefit our local wildlife as well. The Wildlife Trusts have produced a really useful list of things you can consider. Read more here.

Their ideas focus on the following issues:

Reducing your flood risk – 

By reducing any impermeable surfaces (such as concrete hard standings) you can cut down on the amount of run-off into the stormwater systems. Even planting hedges, rather than fences, can help with the management of flood water.

Reducing your heat risk – 

Planting trees and shrubs around your home can help ameliorate the very hot conditions in the summer months. Even wall climbers can have the effect of cooling both homes and sitting areas in your garden.

Avoid tools such as lawnmowers that use fossil fuels to run – 

Not only can this save fuel (and therefore save you money), but it can also help wildlife. Last year, many of us joined in the Plantlife campaign ‘No Mow May’, and watched our lawns bloom with colourful wildflowers and attract more insects, butterflies and birds. It’s a win-win all round. 

Read more on the Plantlife web site – here.

Saving water – 

Our tap water has to be of drinking quality, and this uses a lot of energy. It makes no climate sense to water our gardens with this precious resource. You can invest in a water butt to collect rainwater from your house or shed roof using down pipes.

No Mow May 2022 (Plantlife)

Composting your waste – 

Just like fresh water. commercial fertilisers and pesticides use a lot of energy in their production. It makes a lot more climate sense to make your own compost from any garden or food waste. And for many of us, just not using any pesticides, but relying on a natural balance between predators and prey, is a better way to help protect and enhance biodiversity.

Grow your own flowers and veg from seed – 

Again – a method for saving the energy used in growing and transporting mass-produced horticultural stock – grow your own flowers and veg from seed saved each year, or sign up to TDEG’s own Plant & Seed Swap, and re-use seeds and seedlings which others don’t need. 

Go peat-free

Peatlands are the UK’s largest carbon store. Hopefully all our Going Wild members are already using only peat free compost. But peat is still dug out of wild places in the UK and elsewhere, damaging some of our last remaining peatlands. This process also releases carbon into the atmosphere, accelerating climate change.

We are particularly blessed in Derbyshire to have some of the most protected peatlands in the UK. They are a haven for rare plants and birds. You can read more about one of the largest projects in the UK to protect and restore these important upland habitats on the Moors for the Future web site.

In the Peak District alone, 20 million tonnes of carbon is stored in the peat. Due to the acidic and water-logged conditions present in blanket bogs, plants decay very slowly. This results in the slow but steady build-up of peat, which locks in the carbon. Blanket bogs in poor condition release more carbon than they take in.

Blanket bog in the Peak District (Moors for the Future)

Monty Don (the BBC TV gardener) has described digging up peat in order to use it in our gardens akin to knocking down cathedrals to use the rubble to build walls. Monty only uses peat free compost in his garden (as do RHS and National Trust gardens).

Of course, using peat free compost is fairly easy – it is clearly labelled at all garden centres. But we also need to encourage all nurseries to only use peat free compost in their own stock (otherwise we are buying it with every new plant we purchase). There is a handy online guide to peat free nurseries in the UK here. You can also support the campaign to encourage the government to take action to make it illegal to sell compost containing peat here.

These are all small actions – but they can all make a difference. We can manage our gardens for the benefit of wildlife and for climate action.

Together, we can make a difference!

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