University of Maryland Extension

Climate Change and Gardening

Climate change is real and is affecting Maryland now. There is no scientific controversy: 99% of scientists agree that our climate is changing and that global temperatures are increasing as levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases rise in the atmosphere (CO2, methane, nitrogen dioxide, water vapor). Global measurements of temperature since weather records began in 1884 show a clear long-term trend toward warming.  The animation below shows a clear trend in temperature, even though there can be substantial year-to-year and place-to-place variation in weather. 


ABOVE: Yearly observations of global temperatures since 1884. This animation shows the temperatures across the globe as differences from the average temperature between 1951-1980 (the baseline):  blue shows areas cooler than that baseline, while yellow-orange shows areas warmer than the baseline.  Although there is considerable variation in temperature from place to place and year to year, the overall trend is clearly toward warming.

Learn More About Climate Change and Gardening

Climate change basics and evidence Learn more about why air and ocean temperatures are rising and how scientists know that climate change is real.

Climate change impacts in Maryland Learn more about how sea level rise, increasingly severe storms and tidal flooding are already affecting Maryland.

Adapting your garden to the impacts of climate change  Warmer winters, hotter summers, flooding and drought affect plant growth and impact the many organisms that interact with plants (pest insects, pollinators, diseases, microbes).  The climate-related changes that have already occurred require that steps be taken to devise and adopt growing practices suited to a “new normal” set of environmental conditions.  We are the first generation that has not been able to look to the past for guidance on when to plant, what to plant and what pests and diseases to expect.  

How can gardeners help?  Home gardeners can be an important part of the solutiom to climate change by using climate-friendly practices in gardens and landscapes. Sustainable gardening and landscaping techniques can slow future warming by reducing carbon emissions and increasing carbon storage in the soil.  These climate-friendly techniques will beautify your landscape and help you produce an abundance of healthy produce in your garden.  In addition, they build the soil by adding all-important organic matter and also reduce runoff and erosion.  

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