How to regard your yard

reducing your carbon footprintWeed it and reap – that garden outside your back door is an easy path to green. Even when you don’t have much space.

A common variety garden can be everything from an energy efficiency tool, food source or even a carbon sink to lock up greenhouse gasses before they can warm the atmosphere.

“Domestic gardens are useful on the recycling and water management fronts and can definitely contribute to a better environmental mindset,” says Greening Australia’s Justin Johnson.

Plants can shade buildings, create sound insulation and cool the air in summer through “evapo-transpiration”, which is like air-conditioning for the outdoors. There’s also the bonus of providing a space to grow food that won’t create any transport emissions to arrive on the dinner plate.

“Vertical gardening or ‘green walling’ is becoming the hot topic – you can grow three to four times as much per square meter and they look great,” says Neco’s Jeremy Davies. “You can have them right up close to the outdoor living area – imagine the beautiful thick aroma of a wall of basil as you enjoy a glass of wine on the deck?”

And while most of us love the look of a well-kept expanse of green lawn, we can’t score any environmental brownie points for maintaining that water-hogging lawn.

“I’m a lawn-avoiding citizen, I have converted most of it into food -.a lot more fun,” says Jenny Allen, the author of Paradise in your Garden. “It is best to grow a garden that you can manage. Start close to your hose with herbs and then move out form there. Some people may only be able to manage a herb garden.”

“A well-planted tree will absorb much more carbon than lawn, use less water and soil nutrients,” explains Johnson. “A mix of mature trees, seedlings and low vegetation with minimal lawn is good. On the carbon sequestering side of things, fast-growing trees absorb more carbon.”

And don’t forget the power of recycling food scraps into compost heaps or worm farms.

“Composting builds soil, it fixes carbon and effectively creates a closed loop where the organic waste is returned to soils to provide and sustain natural fertility and the ecological balance,” Davies says.


This article was first published in House & Garden magazine’s The Green House column