Carbon Landscaping for Gardens & Lawns

Climate change and increasing global warming have been a significant concern today. We are all witnessing its effects at various levels, which are indeed a threat to humanity, nature, and its inhabitants, so what could be done to solve this global problem? Various measures could be taken at global and individual levels to control and reverse this deterioration caused by our activities.

Here, let’s put light on the environmental effects of carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases which adversely affect the earth’s climate, calling for severe measures to be implemented. The rise in earth’s temperature, loss of biodiversity, increasing sea levels, and abnormally changing weather are the side effects of increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

So what about our homes?

In Canada, the situation is no better, and it experiences significant effects of upsurging greenhouse gas emissions in forms like increasing temperature, glacial retreats, sea ice declination, changing precipitation patterns, extreme weather events, etc.

To tackle this adversity, a popular method, Carbon landscaping, aims to capture and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, promoting sustainable practices to help our landscapes and gardens become more environmentally friendly and greener. Carbon Landscaping for Gardens & Lawns is a practice whose concept is to reduce carbon emissions in the surrounding area along with its retention in trees, plants, soil and other landscape elements.

❓ So, what exactly is Carbon landscaping?

An approach, a practice involving the mindful selection of plants, soil and other elements for a landscape that are efficient carbon sinks, utilizing low-impact soil management techniques to upscale carbon dioxide storage in soil and employing eco-friendly gardening methods to subside carbon emissions and promote a healthier environment is called Carbon landscaping.

A wide range of land management techniques are included in carbon landscaping, which aims to increase the absorption of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere into soil and vegetation.

Utilizing ecosystems’ innate capacity to absorb and store carbon, the strategy reduces greenhouse gas emissions and aids in climate change adaptation.

Canada aims to balance addressing environmental issues and promoting economic growth by incorporating carbon landscaping practices.

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🎯 Major Landscaping Practices Promoting Carbon Positivity

-> Agroforestry:

Agroforestry, or the incorporation of trees into agriculture, benefits farmers and the environment. Examples of this are the creation of protective belts and the development of street growing systems. Agroforestry improves soil health, conserves water and improves carbon storage while providing farmers with access to new income streams.

Agroforestry and shade 1024x768 1

-> Cover cropping:

In agriculture, using cover crops during fallow periods reduces soil erosion, increases the amount of soil organic matter, and improves carbon sequestration.

Cover cropping

-> Afforestation and reforestation:

Canada’s vast tracts of land provide opportunities for planting trees and reforestation activities. By planting trees and creating new forests, Canada can significantly increase carbon sequestration, improve biodiversity, and protect critical watersheds.

Afforestation reforestation

-> No-Till or Reduced Tillage farming:

Farmers conserve soil carbon by avoiding soil disturbance during planting, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving soil quality. 

No till farming

-> Grassland Management:

Rotational grazing and sustainable grassland management techniques can help maintain healthy ecosystems while promoting soil carbon sequestration.

Grasslands management

-> Biochar Production:

Producing biochar from organic and agricultural waste improves soil fertility and water retention while increasing carbon sequestration.

Biochar

-> Wetland Restoration:

Wetlands should be preserved and restored for carbon sequestration. Large amounts of CO2 are absorbed and stored by wetlands, which also serve as essential homes for various wildlife species.

Wetland restoration

-> Urban Greening:

Urban greening policies such as planting trees and creating green spaces can reduce carbon emissions in densely populated areas.

Green roofs

🏑🫧 Implementing carbon landscaping in lawns and gardens

Carbon landscaping in lawns and gardens is achieved by focusing on measures and elements responsible for sequestering carbon dioxide.

Some ways in which we can make carbon landscaping in gardens and lawns a success are:

πŸͺ΄Careful selection of plants:

Choosing plants and trees that are highly efficient in sequestering carbon is a must for carbon landscaping. Select species of trees that are long-lived and quite large, as trees are an excellent sink of carbon dioxide. A recent study stated that the urban trees of the United States store almost 708 million tons of carbon dioxide.

Plants in Canada that you can use in gardens and lawns that  are efficient for carbon landscaping and sequester a good amount of carbon are:-

Canada wild rye, Sweetgeass, White pine, Red maple, Red Spruce, Labrador tea, Sphagnum moss.

🦿Minimizing the use of synthetic fertilizers:

Fossil fuels are used in manufacturing synthetic fertilizers that release greenhouse gases, so switching to organic fertilizers is a step towards better practising carbon landscaping.

The best you can do to identify natural and synthetic fertilizers is to-

  1.  Read the label:- Look up their composition and ingredients; natural fertilizers will mention organic sources like compost, manure, bone meal, fish emulsion, etc. On the other hand, synthetic fertilizers list chemicals like urea, potassium sulphate, ammonium nitrate, etc.
  2. Look for certification:- Some natural fertilizers might contain organic certification labels stating that the fertilizer is synthetic chemical free.
  3. Solubility:- Natural fertilizers take time to decompose and release nutrients in the soil, but synthetic fertilizers dissolve quickly in water.
  4. Observe the texture:- natural fertilizers have a varying texture and colour with bits of organic material, whereas synthetic fertilizers have uniform texture throughout and are granular.

♻️ Composting:

Use dead grasses, plants, and kitchen wastes to create compost. This enhances soil fertility and carbon sequestering power and reduces landfill methane emissions.

πŸ›£οΈ Avoid the concrete walkways:

A significant part of concrete is cement, whose manufacturing involves heating of limestones at very high temperatures, which again releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere so instead, we can add decomposed granite or gravel to create paths in gardens and lawns.

🌼🌿 Reconsidering lawn area:

Lawns carry a lower capacity for carbon sequestration owing to their lack of plant diversity, so reducing lawn area and instead creating beds of plants of mixed species would increase the carbon absorption capacity of that landscape.

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❗Need for carbon landscaping in gardens and lawns

 A small initiative, which we can take at our levels for our environment by adapting to carbon landscaping in our gardens and lawns, is one of the best measures to implement. As with continuous development, advancements and constructions, greenhouse gas emissions have become quite prominent. It continues to grow, resulting in global warming and greenhouse effects, triggering the demand to construct carbon-sequestering landscapes.

  • Climate change reduction:
    Carbon landscaping achieves carbon sequestration, contributing to tackling climate change and its effects on the environment and its inhabitants.
  • Carbon retention:
    Practicing carbon landscaping in gardens and lawns helps sequester carbon as plants and trees harbour a large amount of carbon in their systems, reducing greenhouse gas impacts.
  • Reduced energy consumption:
    Strategically planting trees to provide shade to buildings, hence cooling them, can cut the cost of electricity consumption for cooling otherwise.
  • Aesthetic value:
    As carbon-sequestering landscaping involves the plantation of a diverse range of trees, plants and shrubs, it adds to the aesthetic value of the landscape and proves to be a good source of recreation and refreshments.
  • Enriched biodiversity:
    Planting species varieties for carbon sequestration also becomes responsible for increased Biodiversity and contributes to the overall aesthetics of the land.
  • Community involvement and a sense of purpose:
    When one practices and adds to the environment through carbon landscaping, they get a sense of pride considering their contribution to the betterment of their society; surrounding communities also take inspiration leading to its promotion and overall establishment of harmony among people all bound by the same purpose.
  • Enhanced surrounding ecosystem:
    The diverse and carbon-rich landscapes enhance the surroundings by providing improved water infiltration and improving air quality occupying that area.

🚧 Challenges for homeowners

While implementing carbon landscaping isn’t rocket science taking the first step is quintessential as most people might rethink, considering the challenges which come along with it. The significant challenges include:

  1. Selection of plants that would add to carbon sequestration.
  2. Regular maintenance and care of their landscapes and using organic fertilizers and composts take time and effort to prepare.
  3. Commitment to it, as it takes a while to establish a well-maintained carbon-enriched space which could improve the ecosystem.
  4. Gathering information and building knowledge over the methods, plant species, and techniques to establish such landscapes.

πŸͺ¨ Possible challenges and obstacles in carbon landscaping

πŸ“šπŸ’‘ Knowledge and Awareness: One of the main hurdles is ensuring farmers, landowners, and policymakers know the potential advantages of carbon landscaping and access pertinent information and resources.

πŸ’° Funding and Incentives: Encouraging the widespread adoption of carbon landscaping practices, particularly among small-scale farmers and landowners, requires adequate funding and incentives.

βš” Conflicts over land use can arise when planning landscape initiatives, mainly when they compete with other land uses or the resource extraction sector.

πŸ‘οΈ Monitoring and Verification: To ensure the effectiveness and legitimacy of carbon beautification programs, developing effective monitoring and verification methods is imperative.

πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ Agencies and NGOs in Canada involved

Canada promotes carbon-based landscaping as part of its climate change and environmental plans. The government has demonstrated its commitment to the Paris Agreement’s climate goals, which include reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon sinks through sustainable land management techniques.

Federal and provincial agencies are working with non-governmental groups and academic institutions to conduct pilot projects, provide technical assistance, and research the effectiveness of various carbon beautification techniques.

In addition, Canada’s participation in global programs such as the Bonn Challenge and the 30×30 Initiative demonstrates its commitment to restoring and preserving ecosystems to combat climate change.

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is the government organization managing the nation’s resources for metals, minerals, and forests. They focus on several programs related to combating climate change, such as carbon responsibility and sustainable land use.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): The ECCC, a different federal agency, is dedicated to halting climate change and conserving the environment. They focus on regulations and initiatives about green technologies and carbon reduction.

Canadian Forest Service (CFS): The Canadian Forest Service is a branch of NRCan that actively engages in sustainable forest management and forest research. By researching carbon sequestration in forests and supporting sustainable forest management techniques, they support efforts to create a carbon landscape.

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Conclusion

Despite these challenges, carbon landscaping is worth these pains as it’s a significant step towards a better tomorrow and is one of the minor low-cost initiatives citizens can take for their birthlands.

Canada can significantly contribute to global mitigation efforts by adopting and supporting various land management strategies promoting carbon sequestration while gaining several co-benefits like improved soils, higher biodiversity, and improved climate resilience.

But governments, businesses, farms, and the general public must work together for the carbon-based landscape to reach its full potential. Canada can show the world the path to a greener, more sustainable future by taking collaborative action like this.

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