Most of us know by now that planting trees and avoiding peat in compost both are crucial to capture carbon but there are other things you can do with your garden to help with carbon capture and storage.
The root system of plants, the bit we cannot see once they are planted, has a vital role in storing carbon, as well as other things such as storing and slowly releasing water. The more root for every shoot, the more carbon is stored underground. In forests the underground biomass (the total mass of the plant) is estimated to be 22%. For shrub lands this is 47% while it is a whopping for 67% grasslands. Meadows are a reliable, and beautiful, carbon sink.
So, what can you do in the garden? Besides planting trees, leave space for a wildflower meadow, strip or patch. The ideal wildflower meadow consists of roughly an 80% mix of native grasses with the rest being local wildflowers.
Create a Pond
You know what beats trees and meadows when it comes to carbon storage? Ponds do. Ponds have a large range of benefits for wildlife, and every garden should have at least a little pond. You can maximise on its carbon storing effect by opting for a larger pond. From a design perspective, ponds are an amazing garden feature too, reflecting light into your garden and adding a sense of calm.
Stop digging. This is another one that is a simple win-win. When we dig, we release carbon, destroy soil structure and life, and cause soil erosion – all of which speeds up carbon release. It is also a lot better for your back to stop digging.
For a good no dig garden, make sure that you do not leave your veg patch lying bare over winter as nutrients will leak. I love having hardy winter salads on there, such as land cress, miner’s lettuce, rocket and Swiss chard. Or opt for a green manure that can grow over winter and be chopped at ground level to add nutrients and structure to the compost come spring.
There are some other simple things you can do:
- Stop using petrol tools.
- Grow your own hardy plants from seeds or cuttings. Use peat free compost, and by starting later in the year, you do not need artificial light or heating.
- Make your own compost. Compost everything possible, from paper to old fabric (as long as there is no plastic yarn in it). Compost is heavy to distribute commercially and the transport has a huge environmental impact.
- Grow your own foods. There is no transport required, and you are in control of your methods.
Katrina Flad runs her sustainable garden design and landscaping business frock n wellies from her home in Aberdeenshire. Passionate about the planet and all things that live on it, she wanted to make a real difference to her environment ever since she can remember. In her regular column, Katrina will bring you design solutions for your garden which are sustainable, practical and beautiful. Follow Katrina at frock n wellies on Instagram and Facebook.