Green resolutions: Saving the planet starts in your own back garden

  • Climate
  • Wednesday, 22 Jan 2020

If you want to do something good for bees, you need flowers with decent stamens where the insects can get at the nectar. — dpa

Greta Thunberg has shown that everyone can do something for the climate. Naturally, not all of us can be as committed as the Swedish activist and turn our daily lives upside-down completely. But even small changes can help to mitigate climate change. Starting in your own garden, for example.

Here are three green New Year’s resolutions for garden owners.

Plant a fruit tree to reduce CO2: Trees bind carbon dioxide, especially when you make sure that their wood is used for construction later and that the leaves pass into the soil by rotting, leaving the CO2 bound there.

Trees that grow quickly and to large sizes are particularly suitable. A lot of leaf mass is also a good thing, says Helmut Selders, President of the Association of German Nurseries.

He recommends fruit trees, as many gardens don’t have enough space for large oaks or beech trees. But the soil and light conditions at the location also have to be right.

If you don’t have room for a tree, you can plant a “colourful hedge”.

“Don’t only use cherry laurel or the tree of life, but also various flowering woody plants such as sloes, ” Selders says.

Help animals by planting different plants: “Diversity is a chance for survival, ” Marja Rottleb says, garden consultant at the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (Nabu). If there are many different plant species, this helps to foster many animal species – and vice versa. Otherwise some birds cannot find food and plants cannot reproduce, for example.

Instead of cultivating lawn only, you should create beds with a variety of plants. Sow meadow plants where they don’t regularly fall victim to the mower.

In addition, trees and shrubs, valuable CO2 stores, also provide food and habitat for animals.

It is important to rely on native plants and preferably on wild species, Nabu expert Rottleb emphasises. Insects are often unable to access the nectar of the heavily filled blossoms of plant varieties because of their many petals.

Sometimes highly cultivated varieties don’t produce pollen and nectar at all. Forsythia, hydrangea and geranium, for example, are sterile.

Save CO2 reservoirs by buying potting soil without peat: A large amount of carbon dioxide is bound in peat, the building block of moors. If it is extracted, the climate-damaging gas is released – and on top of that, the moor is destroyed as a habitat for many animals.

Peat is a component of most potting soils. Even those declared as “peat-reduced” can consist of up to 80% of the material.

But there are more and more alternatives to peat, usually based on compost, bark humus and wood fibres. Try looking for “peat-free” or “without peat” when you next buy soil. – dpa/Simone Andrea Mayer

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