Thursday, March 26, 2009

Climate-friendly gardening

Pruning one's patch is the quintessential British pastime. But could we be pruning our emissions while we're at it?
Those blessed with green fingers may live in fear of the phrase 'hosepipe ban' but, in terms of climate change, dousing our daffs is the least of the problems our gardens cause. Watering plants accounts for 6% of our domestic water use, and a day's water use emits just 24g of CO2 - less than the weight of a small packet of crisps.
The real climate culprits? Our mushrooming purchases of garden gear. Think petrol mowers, paving, tropical garden furniture and peaty composts.

According to a recent survey, about a third of British gardeners are worried that global warming is affecting their gardens - but there's growing evidence that the reverse is also true. Here are some of the ways our gardening helps emissions to grow:
According to the carbon offset company Reduce Your CO2

swapping your petrol lawnmower for a manual can cut emissions by 36kg of CO2 every year - and knock £18 off your annual spend
Most of our peat use is in our gardens. Peat bogs store twice as much carbon as all the world's forest combined but every year an area of Eire ten times the size of Monaco is dug up
The UK is the third largest importer of Vietnamese garden furniture - most of which comes from illegally-logged forests in South East Asia. Read more about the impact of deforestation on the climate it in our article, Buying Sustainable Wood On top of that, although watering the garden may be down the list of climate change crimes, emissions from our water use can stack up:
One litre of mains water emits about 0.75g of CO2 according to Waterwise
Installing a rainwater butt can save 0.6kg of CO2 per year - equivalent to a three mile drive in your car - and up to £200 off your water bills, according to The Low Carbon Diet
Watering with a sprinkler uses 138 times more water than watering with an old-fashioned watering can, while a garden hose can use almost as much water in an hour as an average family of four uses in a day
Digging in a low volume irrigation system with a timer in a large garden can cut water use by half according to The Low Carbon Diet - and the time you spend watering the garden by about 90%.