When creating a climate-friendly garden, one needs to think of issues such as sustainable energy sources, conserving water, composting, recycling, planting native species, and avoiding dangerous chemicals. Using recycled materials such as old hand-made bricks can add charm to a garden pathway. Solar lighting for pathways and pergolas can help reduce energy costs.

Consider installing a green roof on a shed or garage. Green roofs help control storm water runoff and keep the interior of the building cooler in summer. Installing a combination of solar panels and green roofs can work symbiotically, with the panels providing shade for the plants and the plants helping to cool the solar panels.

Conserving water, eliminating harmful chemicals, and saying goodbye to leaf blowers can have a positive effect on the climate, the planet, and your own peace of mind.

Gardening in the Age of Climate Change

Climate change is affecting everything in our world today. And as observers of nature and living, growing things, gardeners are seeing these changes firsthand.  Plants, flowers and trees are blooming earlier throughout North America. Winter frost and extreme storms can damage these early bloomers. Non-native invasive species are more responsive to climate changes which is facilitating naturalization and invasion, while poison ivy plants respond to higher levels of carbon dioxide, growing larger and producing more toxic oil.

Given all the challenges to contend with, one may indeed need a book to help them as they work on their gardens. Luckily, Ken Druse has updated his original book, “The Natural Shade Garden:,” to include information on how they can help to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and deal with the issues that climate change has brought us. His book, “The New Shade Garden: Creating a Lush Oasis in the Age of Climate Change” addresses many of these challenges we will continue to encounter, while still providing beautiful, inspiring photographs and plenty of gardening wisdom.

From Amazon:

“There is a new generation of gardeners who are planting gardens not only for their visual beauty but also for their ability to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In The New Shade Garden, Ken Druse provides this generation with a comprehensive guide to creating a shade garden with an emphasis on the adjustments necessary for our changing climate. Druse offers advice for common problems facing today’s gardeners, from addressing the deer situation to watering plants without stressing limited resources. Detailing all aspects of the gardening process, the book covers basic topics such as designing your own garden, pruning trees, preparing soil for planting, and the vast array of flowers and greenery that grow best in the shade. Perfect for new and seasoned gardeners alike, this wide-ranging encyclopedic manual provides all the information you need to start or improve upon your own shade garden.”

For more ideas on how to adapt your garden to climate change, read about Cornell University’s “Climate change demonstration garden.”


Synthetic nitrogen fertilizers such as urea and ammonium nitrate require a lot of energy to manufacture and transport (for every ton of fertilizer produced, 4 – 6 tons of carbon dioxide is emitted). It’s better to use organic nitrogen sources, such as manure and compost.



Hidden inside an expandable unit, Luci Solar String Lights pack 100 lumens into 10 nodes on an 18 foot cord. These warm LED lights can illuminate your garden for 50 hours on a single charge. Recharge via solar panel, or quick charge via USB.

From Luci: A little light goes a long way

“With over 3 billion people living without access to clean, reliable, or affordable energy, everyday tasks are made more difficult (and dangerous) than they should be. Access to clean energy can improve health, create education equality, economic empowerment, all the while combating climate change.

Working with over 650 NGOs and non-profits, we provide clean energy to those who need it most. Through our partners we distribute clean energy options that provide a more economical and environmentally friendly approach to everyday tasks.”


In many places, as soon as the sun goes down, children can’t study, businesses have to close, women are less safe walking outside. Solar lights can make a big difference!

Porous, Pervious, and Permeable Pavers


A garden patio or driveway often has a solid, impervious surface with tightly set pavers or an asphalt covering. When it rains, the water that flows off these surfaces can pick up pollutants such as lawn fertilizer and vehicle fluids along the way. This polluted water makes its way down storm drains and into our streams and rivers. It can then kill beneficial organisms and spur the growth of algae. By capturing rainwater, porous, pervious, and permeable pavers can help keep our rivers clean and healthy by directing the water into the soil.

Porous pavers generally are a grid system filled with dirt, sand, or gravel with grass growing in between. The cellular grid also reduces soil compaction, improving absorption.

Pervious pavers allow storm water to percolate through the surface rather than running off into surrounding areas or storm drains. As water runs through, the pavers filter urban pollutants. Like grass, pervious pavers let the ground below breathe. These pavers also allow tree roots and their supporting microbes to interact.

Permeable pavers are installed with layers of varying-sized stone or aggregate underneath that filter and direct storm water to underground aquifers. The pavers are separated by joints filled with crushed stone so that water can pass around the paver and into the soil below.

Belgard permeable pavers mimic the way natural land absorbs water. With permeable concrete pavers, any rain that falls on a patio, walkway or driveway seeps back into the ground, reducing the burden on storm drains. A permeable paver system can even be designed to harvest and recycle rainwater.

Aqua Roc™ pavers are environmentally and economically sound for their reduction in water run-off and long-lasting durability. These pavers are made of a porous concrete and formed into bricks separated by joints. The spaces between the pavers allow rainwater to enter the earth and benefit the soil. Another type is Turfstone, a permeable concrete grid that allows grass to grow up in between. It can be used on driveways and provide an environmentally friendly alternative to heat-producing concrete or asphalt surfaces.


The Gulf of Mexico has a dead zone created by runoffs from farms and cities along the Mississippi River. A large area becomes uninhabitable and many fish and marine life die. In 2019, it was approximately 6,952 square miles in size.



The Worm Factory 360 makes it easy to recycle your food scraps and household waste. Worms work 24/7 converting waste into nutrient rich organic fertilizer for your garden. The Worm Factory houses thousands of worms and is designed to expand vertically, allowing a high compost capacity in a very small footprint.


The decomposition of organics in landfills produces methane, a greenhouse gas that, according to the EPA, is 70 times more effective at trapping radiant heat than carbon dioxide.

Garden Rakes vs. Leaf Blowers


Leaf blowers have been with us since the 1970s, and while they have evolved over time, they still destroy the quiet of a Sunday morning with noise levels of up to 112 decibels (louder than a plane taking off). In addition, the inexpensive models emit more pollutants than a 6,200-pound pickup truck. According to an article in The Atlantic, “…In 2017, the California Air Resources Board issued a warning that may seem incredible but has not been seriously challenged: By 2020, gas-powered leaf blowers, lawn mowers, and similar equipment in the state could produce more ozone pollution than all the millions of cars in California combined. Two-stroke engines are that dirty. Cars have become that clean.”

While leaf blowers are efficient and powerful enough to handle large areas, they come with a cost, both environmental and health-related. Hearing loss is a growing problem and leaf blowers are contributing to the noise levels of our communities.

An alternative, albeit much harder work, is the rake. Rakes are affordable, non-polluting, and can provide an excellent core workout (unless of course you have back problems). It’s one thing to consider when trying to change a habit in the interest of climate change.


Many consumer-grade blowers (and some mowers) use a two-stroke engine, which lacks an independent lubrication system, so fuel has to be mixed with oil. The number of air pollutants emitted by gas-powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers exceed pollutant emissions of large automobiles. One study showed that a leaf blower emits nearly 300 times the amount of air pollutants as a pickup truck. Another study showed that one hour using a gas-powered lawn mower is equivalent to driving a car 100 miles.