How to Cut Carbon in Your Own Back Garden

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By Alec and Sheila Bayliss on behalf of SLH

A Close-Up of one of our Cornflowers.

Most people think gardening is just for enjoyment – and it is fun – but gardening is also a way to be more sustainable. By planting flowers, fruit trees, veg and other plants, you are locking up carbon without even realising it. This occurs because during photosynthesis, plants take in carbon dioxide and then convert it into glucose, which helps them grow.  Here are a few ideas to make your garden a little more sustainable:

Use peat-free compost

The peat in compost is taken from from peatlands. These peatlands store twice as much carbon as the world’s forests. But when peat is removed for use in compost, this releases the stored carbon into the atmosphere. So to keep your carbon footprint lower, try to use peat-free compost.

Make your own compost

A group of cucumbers in a plastic container

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Instead of buying plastic-wrapped bags of compost, try learning how to make your own by recycling garden and kitchen waste like kitchen peelings or grass clippings for nitrogen-rich ‘greens’, and carbon-rich ‘browns’ like torn-up paper or cardboard. (This tip also cuts down on cost because you don’t have to buy all that compost!).

Grow your own food

You can reduce your carbon footprint – and save money – by growing your own food instead of buying produce from other areas, even inside the UK, which results in carbon emissions from transport.

Plant shrubs or trees

Our back garden, with our Buddleia (also know as butterfly bush) and Honeysuckle shrubs

While all plants capture carbon, shrubs and trees are even better because of their woody stems. So do consider planting a tree – or if your garden is a bit smaller – perhaps a shrub.

Do more things by hand

Clothes out in a garden

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Instead of using power tools like strimmers that contribute to carbon emissions, try to use some hand tools like edge-trimmers. It may take more time, but it is much more climate-friendly!

Hopefully you will find one or two of these tips helpful and enjoy gardening while cutting carbon in the process.