Think Urban Greening in 2012, starting in your garden

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’.

  1. 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.
  2. Plant a climber or hedge. These plants provide a welcome habitat for all manner of wildlife whilst providing shade and insulation for your house.
  3. 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.
  4. Plant a variety of plant types and species to support a diverse range of wildlife eg a mix of trees, shrubs and flowering plants.
  5. Grow perennial plants over large areas. As perennials grow in the same place year after year they minimize annual soil disturbance, helping carbon capture.
  6. Consider reducing the area of lawn in your garden, replacing it with other permanent planting eg shrubs and perennials.
  7. 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.
  8. Make compost and mulch, covering garden soil with organic matter such as bark to prevent evaporation of water.
  9. Collect rainwater and use ‘grey water’ (previously used for washing dishes, baths etc and suitable for small scale, short-term use).
  10. 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


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