8 ideas for combating pollution with your garden

Preventing pollution is everyone's responsibility, and because plants often help remove chemicals from air, water, and soil, gardening can often help undo environmental damage. Here are a few ways to limit pollution in your garden.

8 ideas for combating pollution with your garden

1. Limit garden garbage

Reduce pollution by keeping garden debris out of the trash and composting it instead. Dispose of pesticide and other chemical containers properly.

2. Buy green

Use only garden products that don't pollute. Try organic fertilizers and pesticides, which won't harm the environment after they break down and don't pose disposal problems.

3. Prevent runoff

  • When using fertilizer, don't let it spill onto paved surfaces or into gutters; runoff washed by rain can end up polluting streams and lakes with phosphates.

Properly applied fertilizer binds to the soil and seldom causes this kind of damage.

4. Stop the noise

Are you adding to noise pollution with your garden equipment?

  • Use a manual mower or trimmer whenever practical.
  • Make sure the mufflers on gas-powered tools are working.
  • Buy the quietest leaf blower available if you live in a neighbourhood where there's a low tolerance for noise.

5. Stamp out fires

Don't burn leaves and other yard wastes — even if it's permitted in your area.

  • Compost healthy plant debris, stockpile leaves to use as mulch, and chip or shred large branches.

6. Spray it away

  • If your plants are exposed to car emissions, soot, smoke, or other pollutants, give them a regular misting with the hose to clean their foliage.
  • Avoid growing dark-coloured flowers near dusty roadways, because they easily show dirt.

7. Plant a tree

  • Tree leaves are natural air filters, absorbing chemical impurities that help create air pollution and releasing oxygen.
  • They also trap dust, fumes, and odours.
  • What's more, trees can reduce the temperatures of "heat islands," which contribute to smog buildup in cities.

8. Plant pollution-tolerant trees and shrubs

If you live on a busy street where automobile exhaust is present most of the day or in an area plagued with persistent air pollution problems, consider planting these pollution-tolerant plants.

Trees

  • Crabapple (Malus hybrids)
  • European birch (Betula pendula)
  • Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
  • Golden raintree (Koelreuteria paniculata)
  • Grey birch (Betula populifolia)
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)
  • Littleleaf linden (Tilia cordata)
  • Maple (Acer spp.)
  • Red oak (Quercus rubra)
  • Pear (Pyrus spp.)
  • Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)
  • Sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua)
  • Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Shrubs

  • Arborvitae (Thuja spp.)
  • Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster spp.)
  • Forsythia (Forsythia spp.)
  • Japanese kerria (Kerria japonica)
  • Juniper (Juniperus spp.)
  • Privet (Ligustrum spp.)
  • Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia)
  • Spirea (Spiraea spp.)
  • Tatarian dogwood (Cornus alba)
  • Viburnum (Viburnum spp.)
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