Join Master Gardeners in the Arlington/Alexandria unit of Virginia Cooperative Extension in a series of monthly articles in 2021 as we explore the topic of climate change and practical actions individuals can take in their home landscapes in response.
For the past eleven months, we’ve explored the topic of climate change and practical actions gardeners can take in their home landscapes in response: from managing water wisely and building healthy soil to thinking differently about lawns and making informed choices regarding plants. To help home gardeners remember some of the mitigating and adaptive techniques discussed, we have summarized them in this handy printable “Climate-Conscious Gardening Checklist.”
For those who would like to look more deeply into the subject, some suggested next steps are described below.
Read for Inspiration
Dr. Doug Tallamy has become a prominent spokesperson in the movement to restore our environment by implementing sustainable practices in our own garden spaces. He reminds us that we are no longer gardening just for beauty, but for life itself by considering the survival of species other than ourselves. His very readable and optimistic books Bringing Nature Home and Nature’s Best Hope explain a new approach to conservation. Other leading voices in the field of sustainable gardening have contributed to The New American Landscape with helpful chapters on meadows, edible gardens, waterwise gardens, green roofs, welcoming wildlife, managing soil health, and plant choices.
Implement More Practical Actions
The Climate-Conscious Gardener, a Brooklyn Botanic Garden publication, packs a great deal of helpful information in a slim volume of about 100 pages. It contains concise scientific information on climate change, including gardeners’ guides to the carbon and nitrogen cycles; a list of landscape materials and products; suggestions on ways to offset carbon emissions; and recommendations for turning a home landscape into a carbon sink.
Climate-Wise Landscaping by Sue Reed, a landscape architect, and Ginny Stibolt, a botanist and naturalist, is a comprehensive, yet readable, source of information on mitigation and adaptation steps gardeners can take to make their landscapes more sustainable. Six chapters in the book (Lawn, Trees and Shrubs, Water, Ecosystems, Soil, Herbaceous Plants) cover topics that have been addressed in this series of blog posts, but go into considerable depth, outlining a series of practical actions in each area to meet clearly defined goals. There are also helpful sections on planning and design, urban gardening issues, food production, and materials.
Get Advice and Participate
Some gardeners may wish to request a consultation from an Audubon at Home Ambassador for assistance in creating wildlife habitats on their properties. Households that can document the presence in their yards of at least ten animals (insects, amphibians, birds, and mammals) designated as “sanctuary species” can apply for certification as “Wildlife Sanctuaries” by the National Audubon Society.
Locally, gardeners can investigate the resources of the Plant NOVA Natives campaign. The PNN website includes a downloadable guide to native plants of Northern Virginia and list of native-only sellers and plant sales in the region. On the state level, gardeners can join the Virginia Native Plant Society, a nonprofit organization that seeks to further the appreciation and conservation of Virginia’s native plants and habitats. The VNPS website contains a wealth of resources, such as profiles of their Wildflowers of the Year (going back to 1989), frequently asked questions on growing native plants, and galleries of photos and videos. Finally, gardeners can register their properties as part of the Homegrown National Park, a nation-wide cooperative conservation project to regenerate diverse, highly productive ecosystems.