How Does Growing a Garden Help the Environment?
You may know that gardening makes your yard look beautiful and may even help raise your property value. Additionally, gardening can help yield fruit and vegetables to cut costs on your grocery bill. On a more personal note, gardening even has benefits to your physical and mental health. Whether you are an expert or beginner gardener, there are plenty of reasons for getting your hands dirty.
One of those reasons comes in the form of helping to improve the environment. While you are composting, planting, mulching, and putting down soil, you are actually doing a variety of services to help the Earth’s ecosystem.
Cleansing the Air
Indoor air pollution is ranked as one of the world’s greatest public health risks. As humans breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, they are polluting the air they live in. Through photosynthesis, plants essentially do the opposite — taking in light, carbon dioxide, and water to turn it back into clean air. Even indoor plants can have many benefits, and cleansing the air you breathe is one of them.
You can also plant an outdoor garden to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and start to reverse the damage done to the ozone layer. Both indoor and outdoor plants play a significant part in environmentalism. It is a good idea to purchase some common indoor plants like the golden pothos or the snake or spider plant to help cleanse the air and help out the environment. In the right climate, these beneficial indoor plants may even be viable additions to your landscape year-round.
Supportive of Pollinators
They may be considered pests, but bees, butterflies, beetles, and some small mammals are pollinators — meaning they visit flowers to drink nectar or eat pollen and, incidentally, transport the pollen to other areas they move to feed at. Without gardening, there would be no flowers for these insects and animals to feed on, or to allow for continued plant pollination.
Bumble bees are already going extinct, and other animals and insects are not pollinating as much due to climate change, pesticides, and more. Almost 80% of the plants that produce our food require pollination. Pollination is extremely important to a delicate animal and insect ecosystem, but also for ours. Plant some pollinator-friendly plants such as yarrow, scabiosa, lavender, and sage to help these insects and animals eat, rest, complete their life cycles, and do their job for the environment and ecosystem.
Prevention of Soil Erosion
Besides the loss of fertile land, soil erosion can pollute streams and rivers. This can result in a decrease in fish and other water species by obstructing these waterways. Degraded land (land in danger of erosion) typically can’t hold much water and this can lead to flooding. Soil erosion can set off a chain of events that is harmful to the environment. In short, soil erosion is a threat to the environment and humans.
Preventing or minimizing soil erosion can keep land from turning into desert, which benefits both agriculture and animal life. Planting cover crops like clover, vetch, and rye can help with soil erosion. Their roots help keep topsoil consolidated, eliminate competitive weeds, and replace nutrients back into the soil when they compost. Additionally, grass that is native to the area can also help soil erosion.
Decreased Carbon Footprint
Many of the above environmental benefits reduce your carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gasses generated by your actions — driving, wasting food and water, using non-renewable energy, etc.
There are many different ways you can use gardening to help reduce your carbon footprint. Even simply reducing the amount of space reserved for your lawn and replacing grass with more diverse plants can have a huge impact. Adding trees, shrubs, or flowering plants in place of a lawn increases biodiversity, as well as creating more total square footage of plant life that can naturally absorb carbon.
If you opt to plant a garden to grow food, this can further reduce waste by eliminating the need for packaging, cutting back on trips to the grocery, and even encouraging you to eat seasonally. This dietary change can confer health benefits as well as cutting down on produce shipped from outside the state or even the country.
Finally, planting shade plants strategically around your property can help naturally filter sunlight and reduce your need for air conditioning — which means lowering your energy consumption in the hot summer months.
Reduced Noise Pollution
Noise pollution has a negative effect on both human health and the environment. Noise pollution can be the sound of everything ranging from a TV to a lawn mower. But where it can harm humans is when these sounds are so loud and persistent they cause hearing loss, stress, anxiety, depression, and more.
Noise pollution can harm animals by forcing them out of their ecosystem. For instance, noise from boats can deter whales from their habitats. City noise and noise from construction can force deer and elk away from where they live. Noise pollution essentially displaces animals from where they thrive, and they may die as a result.
Buying and planting privacy trees can help dampen noise pollution. The dense foliage can absorb and lessen noise from the roads, houses, and more to make for more quiet surroundings. If you don’t want any more trees around your house or don’t have room, consider privacy shrubs and hedges to do the same thing. Planting this foliage can reduce noise pollution — supporting your health and the health and safety of surrounding wildlife.
Some of the best plants for privacy screens are evergreens, which can also provide winter habitats and protection for local birds and other wildlife. Having native birds or squirrels overwintering in your yard can provide additional interest on top of dampening noise and establishing a more private area for you to enjoy.
The benefits of gardening are too many to ignore, and thinking they benefit only you would be a mistake. A happy side effect of gardening is how it benefits the environment as a whole. If you’ve been thinking about getting into gardening, the fact that you’d be an environmentalist might help sway your decision.