Gardening to fight climate change? Get planting

Gardening can help us mitigate the effects of global warming, RHS research proves

rose garden with pergola
(Image credit: Photograph Leigh Clapp)

Gardening is pleasurable and enhances the beauty of our homes; gardening as therapy helps us fight stress, and – gardening can help us fight climate change. Fact(s).

In a huge report published by the RHS, the message is loud and clear: urban gardening has significant environmental benefits, and if urban planting increased by just 10 per cent, we'd have a real chance of containing the temperature rises predicted this century.   

According to the report, gardens work as natural air conditioning units in our cities, absorbing some of the heat amplified by buildings and paved areas. Conversely, trees and hedges planted in urban gardens can reduce our heating needs by increasing insulation from wind and cold (yes, it's really true). 

Gardens also act as natural anti-flooding systems, intercepting rain and slowing down runoff, making drains overflowing less likely. And – urban gardens are havens for wildlife, with some species reported on the increase in urban areas thanks to people's green spaces. 

There are a couple of problems with urban gardening, however. The most significant ones are the use of impermeable materials such as tarmac, the increased carbon emissions from petrol-powered garden tools, and the increased water use inevitably needed to water more plants. 

All of these problems have solutions, though: use permeable materials such as gravel for your paths; don't use petrol-powered machinery, and install a water butt to collect rain water. 

Want more tips on gardening to fight climate change? Read our guide to eco-friendly gardening

Bees on echinops flowers

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)