University of Maryland Extension

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.  

Compost graphicHow can gardeners help combat climate change?  

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.

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 protect it by reducing runoff and erosion.  

  • Reduce emissions and inputs
    • Use more human power, instead of gas powered equipment. Emissions from burned fossil fuels deposit pollutants directly on Maryland waters of the Chesapeake Bay, and on the land where they can be washed into our waters. 
    • Use a non-polluting reel mower to mow small areas. If a gaspowered mower is necessary, use an energyefficient one with a cleaner burning engine.
    • On air quality code-red days, avoid filling the gas tank and mowing during the hottest part of the day.
    • Homeowners can use trees to reduce energy consumed by heating and air conditioning units.
    • Plant evergreen trees on the northwest side of the house to protect it from winter winds. Deciduous trees planted on the south and southwest sides block the sun during the summer and allow the sun to penetrate and warm the house during the winter. 
  • Protect & improve soils-help store carbon by keeping soils covered. Make compost from yard waste and food scraps and use cover crops to recycle nutrients and reduce erosion.
  • Efficient water use and stormwater management-mulch garden plants, use drip irrigation and rain barrels, and create swales and rain gardens.
  • Make your garden friendly for pollinators and beneficials.
  • Consider lawn alternatives. Begin with areas where grass does not grow well. 

 

water wisely

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