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Can gardens help to address climate change? Look into Intermountain West Native Plants!

You have likely heard the term “carbon sequestration.” USGS defines it as “the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide,” the most common greenhouse gas. They are conducting studies with the goal of reducing global climate change. We can participate in this effort and grow understanding of how it can work, in our gardens and communities. 

A garden design should include 80% native plant species to help sequester carbon. This goes beyond vegetable gardening—to sequester carbon we want to reduce the need to till the soil. In the arid high desert, we also want to avoid setting ourselves up to commit to caring for incredibly thirsty plants accustomed to areas with high annual rainfall—like the grass used in typical lawns! 

Plants native to this region require the amount of water we tend to get here. Many of these offer pollen for bees, birds and other beneficial insects. The huge bonus here: Adding beauty to your living space, while reducing the amount of labor-intense digging over time, or using gas-powered lawn care equipment, chemical fertilizers or herbicides. All of these efforts contribute to carbon sequestration. 

Plant choices depend on where you live and what has historically thrived there. According to the Xerces Society Guide to Attracting Native Pollinators, you want to provide food for pollinators over the changing seasons, Spring, Summer and Fall. To do this, you select plants that bloom at different points in the season. 

Here’s a listing of some native plants we currently carry:

Early season plants
Arrowleaf Balsamroot, Chokecherry, Golden currant, Lupine, Northern Sweetvetch, Palmer’s penstemon, Rocky Mountain penstemon, Firecracker penstemon, Gooseberry globemallow, Mule’s ear’s and Serviceberry.

Mid-season plants
Blanketflower, Bee Friend, Purple Coneflower (Echinacea), Rocky Mountain Bee Plant, and Showy Milkweed.

Late-season blooming plants
Rubber Rabbitbrush, Showy Goldeneye, and Wild West Sunflower

All plants listed here require low-to-medium annual precipitation, no more than 18 inches. Compare this to a lawn that needs between 52-78 inches of water annually (1 to 1.5 inches of water per week, according to Scotts.com a source for lawn care)! 

To recap the many benefits of working with native plants in your expanding garden spaces:

  1. Sequester Carbon and improve air, land and water quality.
  2. Provide beauty for your living space and community while feeding the pollinators who keep things growing, and all of us fed!
  3. Use minimal amounts of water in our arid high desert region.

Check out our Intermountain West Native Plants page to see some more options.

Curious about how you can be growing food while implementing some of the potentials of working with native plants in your garden space? Check out our interview with James Duxbury of B&B Farms in Kuna. In it, he shares about his methods of working with natural processes. Mimic Nature and You Can't Go Wrong!



Xerces Society
The full PDF provides detailed instructions for installation. Look at page 12 for the Appendix of Plantshttps://xerces.org/sites/default/files/2018-06/17-055_01_InstallGuideJobSheet_Idaho_PollinatorPlantings_July2017.pdf




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