• Emma Ross

Gardening for a Changing Climate, How Sustainable Landscaping can Help Combat Drought and Flood.

This past year, Vancouver Island has experienced a number of extreme weather events, from season-long droughts to flooding caused by intense rain.For decades Scientists have warned that this is the direct result of global climate change and that the consequences will only worsen in the years to come. As we experience these extreme events,, we can make conscious decisions in the way that we manage our land to help mitigate the detrimental effects for the future.

Regenerative landscaping is an attainable strategy that can be used to create more resilient landscapes and ecosystems. As the climate changes, the way we work with and on the land must change too.We can no longer afford to manipulate nature to construct landscapes that fit only OUR lifestyles. We know it is imperative that we shift our perspective and create landscapes that function and thrive for ALL species. Regenerative landscaping can help save water, build biodiversity, stop erosion, filter pollutants, create habitat, sequester carbon, and so much more!

Water conservation can be done through rainwater harvesting, rain gardens, landscaping using native plants and green stormwater management. When winter arrives we are quick to realize how our increased hardscapes [ie cement, decking, roadways, parking lots, cutblocks, lawn, fields] are poor at absorbing the increased runoff, this causes extreme flooding, unsafe driving conditions, property damage and infrastructure damage. Come summer we face extreme drought, wildfire risk and failing crops. Together we can bridge the gap, let's take this opportunity to join the green revolution and put the winter rains to work for our summer droughts.

Come summertime the average household water use increases by about 44% in the Capital Regional District due to lawn and garden maintenance. By utilizing sustainable landscape practices such as rainwater harvesting, drought tolerant lawn alternatives and planting with native plants you can reduce the amount of municipal water needed for summer garden maintenance to 0. Coupled with using rainwater for garden maintenance, native plants are already naturally adapted to the wet winters and summer droughts experienced on Vancouver Island. Not only are they adapted to the climate, but unlike many exotic and invasive species, they help to build the soil microbiome by attracting insects and microbes that have specific relationships built over thousands of years of interaction. They also help to build soil by attracting mammals and birds that feed on the leaves and fruit creating nutrient dense natural fertilizers. Richer healthier soils retain more water, nutrients and carbon than disturbed or constructed soils leading to higher permeability for replenishing aquifers and higher nutrient density for happier gardens.

For more serious flood concerns, there are many different green solutions for dealing with stormwater runoff from roofs, roads, and driveways such as a rain garden, permeable driveway, strategically placed hugelkultur beds, and bioswales. Each of these options help to filter and permeate stormwater runoff to ease the burden on the municipal stormwater system, replenish aquifers, and divert water away from your home.

Although climate change related weather events are inevitable, there are ways to mitigate some effects, to better protect your home and local environment. To learn more about the key strategies discussed here visit the sustainable landscape design or ecological restoration pages or book a free quote so we can help you to better prepare for future drought and flood events.

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