What can I do about climate change in my garden?


When it comes down to what people choose to plant, buy, and consume, it’s about small actions leading to big results. RHS scientific research shows that if every one of the UK’s 30 million gardeners planted a medium sized tree and nurtured it to maturity, they would store the carbon equivalent of driving 11 million times around the planet. And if each person made an average of 190 kg of compost a year, this would save the carbon equivalent to heating 506,000 average sized houses for a year.

The RHS believes that knowledge is key to bringing about change. That’s the thinking behind a new “Planet-Friendly sustainability calculator” which will empower gardeners to make the best sustainable plant and gardening choices. This online tool – the first of its type – is being developed through 5 years of RHS funded groundbreaking research into the carbon and water dynamics of the domestic garden.

RHS Director of Science and Collections, Professor Alistair Griffiths, says: “Collectively, the actions of each and every one of our nation’s 30 million gardeners can create positive change and help us adapt to and mitigate against the climate crisis and help to reverse the biodiversity crisis.

“We are not underestimating the mountain of things we all have to do to change our behaviours individually, but we are calling on government, industry, influencers, communities and individuals to recognise that gardening and growing plants more sustainably can play a major role – and it is something we can all do, either on a window sill, in our own gardens or with a community gardening group.”

Only 19% of UK gardeners say they have specifically adopted sustainable gardening principles such as conserving water, making their own compost and reducing fossil fuel usage. The transition to peat-free gardening shows people are willing to change their habits. Almost a quarter of gardeners (36%) who currently don’t make compost say they would consider doing so if the council provided free or subsidized compost bins and a manual.*

As part of its Planet-Friendly Gardening Campaign, the RHS has come up with a list of achievable actions for gardeners. These are also featured in a brilliant RHS book called “How to garden the Low carbon Way” written by Sally Nex , who is an organic gardener focused on supporting sustainability to preserve our precious environment:

1.       Plant a tree in your community, school, workplace or garden to draw carbon out of the air: Grown to maturity, a small tree stores up to 376kg of carbon; a medium tree 511kg; and a large tree 3,350kg.

2.       Water the way Nature intended: Pledge to switch from mains to rains on RHS mains2rains  https://mains2rains.uk ***

3.       Go peat free: Protecting precious peatland habitats which are the largest land carbon store and havens for biodiversity will also help reduce flood risks.

4.       Make your own compost: Every 1kg of home-made compost saves 0.1kg fossil carbon, which could save more than 19kg carbon, per gardener, every year.

5.       Pull up a paving slab (1m²) and grow perennial plants to maturity: Herbaceous perennials (lawn grasses and non-woody plants) draw 3.21kg carbon/m² out of the air; shrubs 19.54kg and trees 40.38kg.

6.       Plants for pollinators: Help slow and reverse declines in bees, butterflies, moths, hoverflies and other pollinators by growing a wide variety of plants including a mixture of native, near-native and exotic plants to support pollinator biodiversity.

7.       Grow your own bunch of flowers: Growing or buying UK-grown cut flowers can save up to 7.9kg Carbon per bunch compared with buying imported bunches.

8.       Electrify your garden: Even though 82% of garden tools sold in the UK are powered by electricity, nearly 40%**** of gardeners still use ones powered by fossil fuels. An average gardener uses 9L of petrol a year equating to 7,6kg fossil carbon.

9.       Help map UK garden plant biodiversity: Add your garden plants to RHS My Garden online to help the RHS conserve this important biodiversity for future generations.

10.    Eat more home-grown, UK, local and seasonal fruit and vegetables.

The RHS will be sharing its Planet Friendly Gardening actions along with gardening advice through its membership, online, with films, social media, at its RHS Shows and across its channels that reach millions of people.

What can I do about climate change in my garden? / RHS Gardening

The RHS have launched a national campaign calling on the UK’s 30 million gardeners to become an army focused on the climate and biodiversity crisis.




This post was written by:

- who has written 871 posts on My Climate Change Garden.

I am not an experienced gardener - more of an enthusiastic amateur who learns by trial and error and is keen to "manage" the effects of the weather on my garden. Writing this blog is my passion and I hope that it will continue to grow, allowing global gardeners to communicate about the effects of climate change on our plants and the future of our gardens.

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Linda Rowlings Says:

    Thank you for sharing your very informative article on gardening for climate change. I have only just become aware of some ways that we can change our gardening practices to support climate change, initiating from an article from the BBC (https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-59195535), highlighting the National Trust joining the call for an international ban on peat fertilizers. I was unaware of this as our main hardware store chain here in Australia has not changed their stock of these items. I am particularly encouraged by the RHS initiative in calling gardeners to action and joining in to map the biodiversity of plants in the UK. What a great way to get everyone involved. I wonder if anything like this exists in Australia? I’m on a mission to find out! (I’m ordering a copy of Sally Nex’s book too!)

  2. Linda Rowlings Says:

    I thought you might also be interested in this article – https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-30/climate-change-changing-gardens-in-queensland-flower-capital/100500088. It’s interesting that the very same issues are being noticed by gardeners here in Australia too. This article interviews local gardeners (that contribute to one of Queensland’s largest annual flower festivals) and the changes that they have noticed over the years due to climate change.

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