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My top tips for gardening in a changing climate | Leaf Probably

We are all now aware that our global climate is changing. Certain effects of this global warming are “locked in” no matter what happens next. But there are still many potential fluctuations in outcome for the next century that depend on our success in addressing our climate and biodiversity crises, and how quickly we do so. A degree of hope, but also some realism, is required as we look to the future. We can do a lot to protect the climate in our gardens – but we also have to adapt to a changing climate.

Identify the ways your climate will change

The best strategies and methods for your garden depend on where you live. While some have to reckon with significantly higher winter precipitation, for example, others have to reckon with significantly less. Some will experience more drought, others more flooding. While some gardeners struggle with rising temperatures year-round, others may actually find the winter weather getting colder and harsher. Many people will experience an increase in extreme weather events such as wildfires. The unpredictability of weather patterns is becoming more pronounced.

Before you can start fitting, it’s important to get a clearer picture of what’s expected in your space. Gardening for a changing climate means understanding in as much detail as possible how things are likely to change where you live in the years to come. Whatever climate change may be where you live, there are some key considerations to keep in mind to future-proof your garden and be able to weather whatever may come.

Protect and improve the soil

Wherever you live, it is important not only to look up at the sky, the sun and the weather, but also to look down. Soil is vital in many ways. One of the best and most important things to think about when gardening for a changing climate is protecting and enhancing the soil you live in. With a healthy, vibrant soil ecosystem, the plants you grow are much more resilient.

Soils rich in organic matter are not only a valuable carbon sink. It also means better moisture retention in dry conditions and better drainage and less nutrient loss in wetter conditions. Healthy soil generally makes for healthier roots and plants – which of course means those plants are less susceptible to wind, storm damage, fire, etc.

When creating and maintaining a garden that can withstand climatic changes, soil care is crucial. Keeping a living root in the soil as much as possible, avoiding compaction, and mulching with plenty of organic matter can be important to preserving this precious and crucial ecosystem beneath our feet.

Use water wisely

Soil care and water management go hand in hand. In addition to soil care, using water wisely should be high on the agenda of any sustainable gardener.

Think about where your water comes from. If it rains, take steps to collect rainwater to use when it’s dry. Plan and plant your garden to capture and store water in the landscape and stop or direct its flow to overcome the challenges you face related to this theme.

And when caring for your plants, choose water-saving watering or irrigation strategies to reduce consumption where and when it is scarce.

Make future-proof planting decisions

A resilient and sustainable garden is one in which the plants are ideally suited to position and placement. A garden with a holistic plan for plant selection and placement will ensure you always choose the right plants for the right places. But it’s also important to think about making the right plant choices for the future you’re facing.

Plants are just as vulnerable to changing climate change as we are. Some will thrive while others will struggle. It’s a good idea to choose hardy plants for your garden that best suit the growing conditions where you live. Native plants in your area are often the hardiest and most adaptable, although you might consider non-natives as well, especially if you are on the edge of their current range.

Aim for the greatest possible biodiversity

Obviously, as the climate warms, wildlife will be affected. Planting as many different plants as possible in your garden – especially native plants that local wildlife rely on – will help your garden stand the test of time. The more species-rich a system is, the more beneficial interactions there can be and the more stable and resilient the garden becomes.

Diversification in plant selection and methods also means that even if things don’t thrive or go according to plan, you can still achieve a range of successes in your garden, whatever the future may hold.

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