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Climate Change: How To Future Proof Your Garden

Thursday 26 September 2019 11:01

Here in Britain, we’re avid gardeners - eternally proud of our outside spaces because we pour so much love and attention into creating them and building relaxing havens.

However, the traditional quintessentially british garden is soon to be gone. Climate change is always hitting the headlines, and it will continue to do so until we urgently respond to severe warnings and make some drastic changes.

Gardens are just one of the victims of global warming, and we’ll need to adapt our outside areas to reflect these inevitable changes in climate. There are plenty of ways we can future proof our gardens to minimise the effects and continue to enjoy them for years to come.

How will climate change impact British gardens?

Shorter winters and an earlier spring - Traditionally plants that may not have survived a frost have far more chance.

Extreme weather - We’re already experiencing heavier rainfalls and droughts and this is having a huge impact on what we can grow in our gardens and how we maintain them.

Rise in pests and disease - Climate change brings with it an increased spread of insect pests such as lily beetle, berberis sawfly and some new vine weevil species. Wetter weather will also see trees and plants exposed to more fungal diseases.

Ecological and environmentally-friendly gardening is paramount to our future. Here’s our ultimate guide to protecting your garden:

Plant with the future in mind

We’ll face the challenge of hotter summers and far less water. Choosing the trees, plants and shrubs to grow in your garden based on these changing conditions is vital. Now, they’ll need to be arid plants - drought resistant and damp-loving. Here’s a few to consider:

Trees

  • Acacia dealbata
  • Cercis siliquastrum
  • Ptelea trifoliata ‘Aurea’

Palm plants

  • Cordyline australis
  • Trachycarpus princeps
  • Chamaerops humilis 

Shrubs 

  • Halimium
  • Elaeagnus angustifolia
  • Olearia macrodonta

Perennials 

  • Baptisia australis
  • Echinops
  • Heuchera

No grass 

Lawns - the mainstays of british gardens. However, grass across the UK is already struggling to cope with the warmer conditions, regularly drying out and turning brown. Likewise, our wetter weather is also leaving them muddy and waterlogged. 

Providing year-round lush green grass, artificial lawn replacements are a fantastic substitute.

Gravel ground cover is another alternative to grass - not only is this another low maintenance option, but it looks great too. Gravel gardens also suit drought-tolerant planting - lavender, cistus and phlomis, and mediterranean plants flourish, and produce a plethora of nectar and pollen for bees and other insects.

Raised beds

Heavy rainfall and storms can bring challenges including erosion of soil nutrients and waterlogged plants.

Firstly, if you’re gardening on a slope, don’t remove too much of the existing vegetation as this will contribute to the erosion. 

Secondly, plants become waterlogged when the rainwater builds up in the soil but it can’t drain away. This leaves no oxygen supply in the soil, drowning your plants.

Growing your plants in raised beds is the ideal solution to this problem. The soil will be raised above ground level, significantly improving drainage. Plus you’ll gain the added benefit of the soil temperature increasing faster in spring.

Prep your soil

Our plants need a helping hand to survive the changing temperatures. Deeply cultivate the soil surrounding your plants by digging in organic matter.

Once you’ve planted, you can mulch the bed, maximising drainage. The best types of mulch are:

  • Gravel
  • Wood chippings
  • Slate
  • Shingle
  • Pebbles

Sustain wildlife

Turn your garden into a wildlife haven.

Ponds and water features are the perfect respite and water source for animals in our increasingly hot summers.

Other animal-friendly features you could add are log piles for a hedgehog-friendly garden and insect hotels, butterfly spas and bird boxes.

The human race would survive just 4 years if bees became extinct, so it’s our job to ensure we keep them buzzing. 

Here are some of the best plants in your garden for bees, so let’s get growing them: 

Crocus, grape hyacinth, bluebell, viburnum, fruit trees, oregano, thyme, foxglove, alliums (including chives), lavender, sedum, aster, heleniums.

You can also build bee ‘baths’ - providing an area for bees to get fresh, clean water. Simply use a shallow container of water and sticks for bees to land on whilst they drink

Be self sufficient

Not only does growing our own food reduce plastic waste and energy, but it helps us to become more self sufficient. Edible gardens are one of the top gardening trends of 2019. 

Some of the best herbs to grow in the garden are; mint, tarragon, fennel, parsley, rosemary, coriander and dill. 

It’s also really easy to grow fruit and vegetables such as courgettes, tomatoes, runner beans, kale, broccoli, carrots, onions, peppers, spring onions, strawberries, cherries, apples and many more. 

Protect with windbreaks

This may be an existing problem for those with gardens in exposed areas, but as the stormier weather escalates, we’ll see more and more affected by strong winds damaging plants.

Windbreaks and shelterbelts are required to minimise the storm’s destruction, providing a semi-permeable barrier to create shelter and reduce wind speed. 

Avoid using a solid barrier such as a brick wall - they could lead to more damaging spirals of wind either side.

Save your rainwater

Saving your rainwater makes so much sense when future proofing your garden. That way, you’ll have plenty of water from your own natural supply when your plants are most in need - during droughts and hosepipe bans.

Simply attach a water butt to anywhere that has a gutter and a pipe - it’s estimated that over 20,000 litres of water can be saved from a house each year. 

Another alternative is fitting a rainwater harvesting system, collecting and storage the otherwise wasted water. The water uses a self-cleaning filter and is stored in an underground tank.

Porous patios 

Replace your impermeable patio with a recycled aggregate or porous material. Tarmac, asphalt and some other pavings aren’t permeable, so surface water cannot infiltrate the ground. This can result in a number of issues such as water pollution and flooding. With climate change bringing heavier downpours, this will become even more essential. 

Resin Bound garden patios are a great solution, handling 850 litres of water per square metre per minute.

Replacing your paving with gravel areas or brick pavers are another alternative to help prevent subsidence problems and reduce flooding.  

Playing a vital role

Creating gardens that protect against flooding, survive extreme temperatures and support wildlife is a crucial role. We have the opportunity to not only build spaces that are relaxing and satisfy our aesthetic styles, but function well and mitigate climate change destruction.

Plants types and where we grow these are the key to minimising some of the huge environmental threats we face.  Plants and their placement hold the key to alleviating some of our biggest environmental threats today.

Grow, grow and keep growing those plants.


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