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Heavier downpours and more intense storms will lead to extensive flooding in vulnerable areas. At the other extreme, severe drought conditions plaguing parts of the nation over the past few years lead to watering restrictions for our gardens.
With global warming, lack of sufficient water for gardens will become even more of a problem. Droughts and heat waves also encourage some of the most damaging garden pests, such as aphids, spider mites, locusts and whiteflies. Garden weeds like dandelion and lamb’s-quarters are expected to thrive with global warming.
While weeds and pests in the garden can be frustrating and time-consuming to control, the invasive species encouraged by global warming can wreak absolute havoc in a garden as they gain more of a foothold. Scientists estimate global warming will enable 48% of the invasive plants and animals in this country to move farther north as temperatures rise.
While predictions for global warming are dire, they are not inevitable. With 91 million households engaged in lawn and garden activities in this country, gardeners are both guardians and stewards of our environment. The National Wildlife Federation’s report demonstrates gardeners can play a big part in the solution to global warming.
“The National Wildlife Federation report will help gardeners understand the predicted impacts of global climate change on plant species and gives them practical tools to address this urgent problem,” says Marian Hill, conservation chairman of the Garden Club of America, who wrote the foreword to NWF’s report.
While the following conservation practices aren’t new to many gardeners, they are more important now given the threat of global warming.
Reduce the threat of invasive species, and incorporate a diversity of native plants into your landscape. Global warming will contribute to a dramatic expansion of invasive, non-native plants and animals, which are able to take advantage of weakened ecosystems and out-compete native species. Gardeners can play an important role in minimizing the threat of invasive species’ expansion by removing invasive plants from the garden and choosing an array of native alternatives.
Higher average temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns will enable some of the most problematic species, including kudzu, garlic, mustard, purple loosestrife and Japanese honeysuckle, to move into new areas. In addition, global warming will contribute to more severe infestations and habitat damage from both native and exotic insect pests, including black vine weevil, gypsy moth, bagworm and mountain pine beetle.
Contact your local/state native plant society to find out which plants are native to your area, or check out NWF’s website for a listing.
Tune in tomorrow for Part 3 of this story.