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Your Garden Can Quietly Help The Planet In 10 Specific Ways

Wanna save the world? Good. Grab your sun hat.

1. Gardening decreases carbon dioxide...

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Okay, let's start with some basics that you might know but are still important reminders: Through the process of photosynthesis, plants intake carbon dioxide. And, as you might have heard, our planet has a little bit of a carbon dioxide problem. Thus, you're doing us all a favor by tending to plants in your garden.

2. ...and increases oxygen.

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Photosynthesis takes in water and carbon dioxide to create glucose and oxygen. So every single plant in a garden is a little oxygen factory. We dare you to say this planet doesn't need more oxygen.

3. Gardens can protect birds, bees, and butterflies.

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If you plant a garden that's specifically designed to attract pollinating wildlife, you can help protect these animals. You can plant gardens to attract birds, or bees, or butterflies, or all three.

Let's remember that you're not just doing these pollinating animals a solid when you build a garden for them: In fact, the National Pollinator Garden Network says that pollinators are responsible for 1 out of 3 bites of food we take each day. So we need them as much as they need us.

4. Eating from your vegetable garden lowers your carbon footprint in two ways.

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You've probably heard that eating locally can reduce your carbon footprint. It's true. Fresh foods, on average, travel 1,500 miles to get to our local store. It takes a lot of fossil fuel to travel 1,500 miles. By comparison, your fresh garden veggies travel zero miles to get to your plate.

But transportation is only a small part of our food's carbon footprint (less than 10%). Most of the carbon output of our food comes in the food's production. In terms of a food's footprint, eating plants is almost always better than eating meat, according to Vox.

When you consider both of these factors, eating from your veggie garden is a win-win, because the most sustainable foods travel zero miles to your mouth!

5. Rooftop gardens can reduce "heat islands" and make our cities less sweltering in the summer.

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As cities grow, they replace vegetation with asphalt and concrete. These building materials become impermeable and dry, which causes the whole city to heat up. The EPA calls this phenomenon a "heat island."

Rooftop gardens in cities can help offset the heat island effect. Our friends at the EPA calculate that a building with a rooftop garden can be 30–40°F cooler than a roof without one, and can reduce city-wide ambient temperatures by up to 5°F. Who needs a trip to the beach to cool off when you could just chill in your garden?

6. Planting a garden on your roof or trees in your yard can spare the Earth carbon and save you money on your energy bill.

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Reducing your energy consumption is good for the planet in many obvious ways, but let's not forget that it's a great way to leave you with more dollars in your wallet, too. The EPA says that a green roof or a rooftop garden can lead to annual energy savings of $0.23 per square foot of roof.

If you have room in your yard, planting trees can lower your air conditioning costs even more. Three well-placed trees on the sunny side of your house could reduce your air conditioning bill by up to 30%.

7. Rain gardens work overtime to keep pollution out of our water.

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You can help keep our water clean and pristine by planting a rain garden. Rain gardens help capture and filter polluted runoff that comes from our rooftops and our driveways. They also have a bonus superpower: preventing flooding. You can learn how to build your own rain garden here.

8. Certain plants in your garden can prevent soil erosion.

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Soil erosion is a global problem not just because it decreases our crop yield: When those crops disappear, we also lose vegetation that's sucking up a lot of that carbon dioxide we talked about earlier. Thus, soil erosion can lead to more drastic climate change.

Here's how you can fight it: Plant things in your garden that use their root systems to hold soil in place. The Spruce has a great list of these plants that will also add color to your garden.

9. A garden can decrease noise pollution.

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The plants in the garden don't just get rid of carbon dioxide and pollutants that invade our water. They also can help prevent noise pollution from getting into our ears.

You might be thinking to yourself, "Noise pollution can't be as bad as actual pollution, can it?" The World Health Organization would like to remind you that noise pollution contributes to many health issues, including ischemic heart disease, cognitive impairment among children, and stress-related mental health risks.

But have no fear — your garden is here. The Washington Post notes that plants can absorb and deflect sound waves. In fact, Spain is using vertical gardens to lessen highway noise.

10. Each little garden adds up to a big difference.

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When you consider the enormity of our environmental issues, it can feel as though one garden won't matter. But consider that, if every household with a garden in the UK planted two trees, the country would have 45 million new trees.

Now consider that the United States has a population about five times larger than the UK. The Urban Forestry Network estimates that planting 100 million trees would reduce carbon per year by 18 million tons and save American consumers $4 billion each year on utility bills.

In summary: Strongly consider planting two trees in your garden, if you can.

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