Typically the beginning of a new year finds us thinking of resolutions for the year ahead, but instead of the usual lists of things to give up perhaps we can take a look outside for our inspiration. So here are ten tips taken from a recent report into Urban Gardening by the RHS, that each of us can do in our gardens to make a positive contribution to our urban environment through ‘Urban Greening’.
- Plant a tree. Trees provide shade and also help to cool the air in summer through evapotranspiration. Fastgrowing, deciduous trees that require little maintenance also provide maximum benefits in terms of carbon capture.
- Plant a climber or hedge. These plants provide a welcome habitat for all manner of wildlife whilst providing shade and insulation for your house.
- Prioritise soft landscaping over hard landscaping. Minimise/avoid paving over large areas of your garden, and consider replacing existing impermeable paved areas with permeable surfaces and planting.
- Plant a variety of plant types and species to support a diverse range of wildlife eg a mix of trees, shrubs and flowering plants.
- Grow perennial plants over large areas. As perennials grow in the same place year after year they minimize annual soil disturbance, helping carbon capture.
- Consider reducing the area of lawn in your garden, replacing it with other permanent planting eg shrubs and perennials.
- When renewing garden equipment bear in mind its energy and carbon efficiency. Also reduce the use of power equipment in the garden – use a garden rake not a leaf blower for example.
- Make compost and mulch, covering garden soil with organic matter such as bark to prevent evaporation of water.
- Collect rainwater and use ‘grey water’ (previously used for washing dishes, baths etc and suitable for small scale, short-term use).
- Think ‘right plant, right place’ to minimise water use and maximise energy saving and energy capture.
Source: ‘RHS Gardening matters: Urban gardens report’.
The benefits or urban greening include:
- Improved air cooling (increasingly important in towns and cities)
- Insulation of buildings by garden vegetation
- Improved air quality
- Mitigating the effects of storm water flooding (vegetation in gardens can help reduce flooding)
- Encourage biodiversity by providing habitats for wildlife
- Improved health and wellbeing (plants and gardens are good for us)
Did you know?
- About 25% of the land in towns and cities is gardens
- In some cities, more than 80% of the trees are in gardens
- Gardens can be home to over 250 species of wildlife
- Plants can cool the air in summer and can keep homes warm in winter
- A 10% increase in vegetation would help control the rise in summertime temperatures due to climate change
Source: The RHS website www.rhs.org.uk