Tree planting is the most common strategy used in carbon sequestration measures. But planting trees in your garden is not the only thing you can do to increase the amount of carbon captured and stored in your outside space. To play your role in tacking our climate crisis, you can also:
- Manage tree stands/ gardens/ forests or woodland more wisely, to maximise the capacity of the trees themselves to catch and store carbon.
- Plant plenty of shrubs and hedges, that serve multiple functions and help sequester more carbon in your garden.
- Choose predominantly perennial plants, rather than annual ones. (Annual crops typically have lower root biomass than perennials because they do not need to store energy in the same way. On average, plants allocate 76% of carbon stocks to shoots and only 24% to the roots. Perennials, especially those with deeper, woodier roots, store more carbon. And of course they store it for longer.
In addition to thinking carefully about the plants that you choose, it is also vitally important to think about how you manage the soil where you live. Soil holds four times the amount of carbon stored in the atmosphere, and more than is held in vegetation. This means that how we grow, and how we care for the soil is just as important as what we grow, and where. Soil can act as an effective carbon sink offsetting a significant proportion of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
How well soil sequesters carbon depends on how land is used. Land used for annual cropping are depleted in soil organic carbon, as the carbon rich biomass of the crops is harvested and removed. Tilling and cultivation also reduce the carbon stored, releasing CO2 into the atmosphere.
To increase soil’s capacity to capture and store carbon, we can implement ‘no dig’ gardening techniques. In a permaculture garden we:
- Chop and incorporate ‘green manures’.
- Add compost/ manures (brown organic matter).
- Incorporate biochar (black organic matter) into the soil.
- Boost microbial/ fungal life in the soil and protecting the fragile soil web.
- Manage vegetation through crop rotation and diverse planting schemes.
If you want some help to create a carbon capturing garden that will help fight climate change, please do get in touch.