Sparrow and Finch Gardening Reduce your energy bills and help the environment by greening your garden

Reduce your energy bills and help the environment by greening your garden

The Chelsea Flower Show has sprung into full bloom. The UK’s annual botanical exhibition celebrates horticulture in all its forms and is a great place to see the latest trends in gardening. How can we make the most of the green space we have and benefit the environment at the same time?

The vast majority of urban dwellers are able to access a domestic garden in the UK. The plants we plant in our green spaces, and how we manage them, can have a major impact on the environment.

Plant services

Plants and gardens can provide both positive and negative services. Scientists are certain that plants can provide localised cooling and reduce the risk of flooding. They also believe they support biodiversity. Scientists are confident in the potential risks and damage that can be caused by using chemicals, peat and fertilisers for plant management. This knowledge is crucial to maximise the impact of green spaces.

Plants themselves can vary a great deal in terms of the benefits and costs they provide.

Our Royal Horticultural Society scientists found in a study that the broad-leaved plant cooled themselves and the surrounding surface better than succulent plants. The reason for this is that the thin and broad-leaved plants lose and use more water, which allows them to cool better by transpiration. On a sunny, hot day in the summer, Stachys (Lamb’s Ear), with its broad leaves, cooled down the soil and roof better than Sedum.

Plants are able to temporarily capture pollution particles in the air, such as those from vehicle emissions and fuel combustion. They can also absorb gaseous pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. According to research, plants with complex leaf structure (including rough and hairy leaves), are more likely to capture pollutants of all sizes.

The conifer species, such as Leylands or pines, accumulate more fine particles (greater than 2.5mm in size) than the broad-leaved trees such as whitebeams, poplars and maples. Both broad-leaved trees and conifers have shown to accumulate the finest particles (less that 1mm), which are potentially most harmful to human health.

Growing perennial plants, such as trees and bushes, in our gardens can help reduce our carbon footprint, by allowing longer-term storage of carbon in the plants and soil.

Four ways to “green up” your garden

You can easily and effectively take steps in your garden to maximize the environmental benefits of your green space, reduce the risk of flooding and insulate your home using vegetation.

Plant climbing shrubs and wall shrubs

The majority of walls and fences have room for a wall or climber. These leafy coverings help insulate houses in winter, reducing heating costs. They also keep them cooler in the summer. Installing green-wall plant systems allows you to cover the entire wall in plants.

Plants for wildlife

The more plants you have, the better. As many plants as you can, natives included, and as much cover as you can. You can provide shelter and food at all times of the year by doing this.

Use permeable paving

Consider carefully what you are doing before you tarmac your front yard. If paving is needed, use permeable material and keep the area small. This allows rainwater to soak in the soil rather than flooding.

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