How Your Garden Helps the Planet: Trees, Plants, and Garden Design

We’re continuing our series on how your garden helps the planet this week by looking at the elements of trees, plants, and garden design. If you missed our first post in this series, check it out here to find out about lawns and their environmental impact: How Your Garden Helps the Planet: Lawns.

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Ways Your Garden Helps the Planet

What comes to mind when you think about a garden: carefully cultivated, visually appealing flowers? Shade trees and benches along paths? Perhaps a pond? Do you think about how you, your family and friends will use the space? In reality, there are many impacts that your space has on the natural world around you, and you can greatly benefit the environment with a few simple choices! Below we’ll examine a few of the ways that your tree and plant choices can help the planet.


Pollinators are a good indicator of the health of an ecosystem, but right now, they’re losing the fight against habitat loss and climate change.

Jode Roberts, Senior Strategist, Projects, David Suzuki Foundation

Our populations of pollinators are declining and the impact of this is unsettling as, according to the David Suzuki Foundation, these insects are:

  • A key source of food for birds and fish
  • Ensure that crops flourish – about 30% of the food we eat depends on insect pollination
  • Ensure that wild plants flourish – about 75% of wild flowering plants depend on insect pollination
Bee on flower. Pollinators in your garden help the planet
Source: Pixabay

To make a positive impact for pollinators, we can plant trees and flowers that are a source of food for them! A few ideas from the list of 25 plants that Bee Friendly recommends planting are:

  • Bee balm
  • Lavender
  • Bachelor’s Button
  • Asters
  • Phlox
  • Mint
  • Rosemary

If you have some room to plant trees, consider the following recommendations from Friends of the Earth:

  • Red Maple
  • Honey Locust
  • Wild Plum
  • Hawthorn
  • Crabapple

Another option to plant trees–especially if you don’t have room at home–is to do so via Plant:Grove, a way to purchase carbon offsets or plant trees on an automatic basis!

Nitrogen Fixing and Companion Planting

Nitrogen Fixing

Often commercial and hobby gardeners opt to apply chemical fertilizers in order to amend the soil to produce large and healthy plants which is not optimal for the environment. However there is a way to increase the nitrogen content of your soil without applying any product! Gardening Know How states that “nitrogen for plants is vital to the success of a garden [as] without sufficient nitrogen, plants will fail and will be unable to grow”. However most plants cannot simply pull nitrogen gas out of the air and so must rely on the addition of fertilizer or be in proximity to the specific plants that can. Nitrogen fixing plants, such as clover or peas, release nitrogen into the soil as they decompose, thereby increasing the nitrogen content in the soil naturally.

Companion Planting

It is possible to control some pests without using pesticides by planting specific plants together. For example, to control the aphid population on our kale last year, we planted nasturtium to draw the aphids off of the kale and to the nasturtium flowers – and it worked quite well!

Red flowers
Source: Pixabay angelstar

Carbon Sinks

Gardeners’ highlights a few surprising actions we can take to reduce our carbon footprint in the garden, including:

  • Create a pond as they store carbon with the “potential to hold more carbon per square metre per year, than equivalent areas of grassland and woodland”
  • Choose no-dig gardening as it allows carbon to remain sequestered in the soil
  • Use peat-free compost to avoid the destruction of peat bogs
  • Planting more! More plants absorb more carbon
Lilly pads in pond
Source: Pixabay couleur

Have you ever considered how you can positively impact the environment with your garden?

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    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Fresh herbs are so fantastic! And that’s awesome you’re expanding your garden too πŸ™‚

  • Jocelyn

    I’ve been dreaming about growing a garden since I was a kid. I feel encouraged to start gardening after reading this post! It’s a little help we can do for our planet. Thanks for sharing xx

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      That’s so great, Jocelyn! Even starting small with a garden makes a difference and is a great way to learn πŸ™‚

  • Lisa's Notebook

    We are incredibly lucky to have a large garden and orchard and – a 2020 lockdown project – a now established wildlife pond, so I loved reading this post because you absolutely echo everything I believe in, thank you! x

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      I dream of having an orchard one day πŸ™‚ A wildlife pond is such a great addition to a garden!

  • thelazychain

    Oh how I dream of having a garden! Last year we had an allotment and it was so lovely growing all sorts as a hobby. It also felt really lovely knowing I was doing a bit for the environment by growing all of these lovely things! Thank you for such an inspirational post

    Mary-Ann x

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Having an allotment is a great option if you don’t have a garden at home. That’s so awesome you were able to do that. Gardening is a really rewarding hobby πŸ™‚

  • MamaMandyC

    I didn’t know honey bee likes rosemary too! We bought some lavender seeds but it didn’t germinate πŸ™ oh well! I like your post! We will keep trying with our little balcony

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Gardening has so many ups and downs doesn’t it. I love that you’re going to keep trying though! πŸ™‚

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Gardening in an apartment is definitely challenging! I hope you get to enjoy your partner’s mother’s garden this summer πŸ™‚

  • Jenny in Neverland

    Fantastic post! We have a nice garden and we’re definitely taking a bit more care of it this year. It’s nice to know having our garden, with lots of trees and bushes etc is doing good!

  • loveemblogger

    Gardens are a really pretty thing and I wish I did more with the one I have. Thank you for reminding me of the benefits that gardens have. They’re great for mental health, but they also really help the environment. Off to plant some trees! Em x

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Gardens really do have so many benefits, don’t they? I agree they are fantastic for one’s mental health too πŸ™‚

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!