We all know that city air isn’t as fresh as the countryside. But just how polluted is the air in the UK’s urban areas? Well, at the start of 2018, the Guardian revealed that London had reached its yearly limit of air pollution in less than a single month! Perhaps it is, sadly, unsurprising that around 40,000 deaths every year are linked to the problematic air pollution levels in the UK.
But if you’re living in a big city or built-up area, don’t worry — you can do your part to protect yourself against that pollution with a little elbow grease in the garden! The right plants can create a breath of fresh air for you:
The beauty of ivy
A feature of many paintings, there’s something iconic about ivy climbing up the side of a house. Though it has a bad reputation in the States as being a weed, it can be a lovely addition to your garden if tended to. The plant offers benefits for wildlife and for the air – Goldsmiths, University of London, states that the wide leaves of the common ivy traps particulates, which makes it a great choice for purifying the air.
Wallflowers — adding a little colour to your life
Want your garden to lots of different colours, even as it works to be ‘green’? Check out the wallflower as a potential plant. Goldsmiths also names this plant as being akin to the common ivy for its particulate-cleansing power. These flowers have a bright display of petals during the first half of the year. You can grow wallflowers in many colours, with purple and yellow popular choices.
Bright and bold gerbera daisies
If wallflowers aren’t enough colour for you, add some gerbera daisies in there too. A recent study by NASA has provided a few colourful blooms for gardeners keen to clean the air. A recent study by NASA has provided a few colourful blooms for gardeners keen to clean the air. Gerbera daisies are bonny, beautiful blooms that come in many different colours; white, orange, red, pink — whichever you pick, they’ll give your garden a splash of colour. These flowers love direct sunlight and a bit of space, so make sure not to leave them in a shady corner of your garden. Plus, NASA states that these wonderful flowers are great for dealing with multiple air toxins, such as benzene.
If you’re looking for a nice border to your garden that works twice a hard, conifer hedges will look great and keep air pollution out. Specifically, the western red cedar hedge is named as an ideal conifer to plant in your garden. But if your garden is a little smaller, the publication also names the yew as a great alternative, citing its evergreen nature and easy trimming.
Keeping your gardening green
There’s no point in planting all these wonderful flowers without making your gardening techniques green too. SmilingGardener offers five great ways to reduce pollution in ways beyond planting shrubs and flowers:
- You can turn many waste products into compost to stop it going to the landfill.
- Use less gluten meal. SmilingGardener notes this meal is made up from genetically modified corn, so best to stay away from using it, if possible. Stick to natural materials for your plants, such a manure.
- Keep equipment quiet. This one’s more for noise pollution, but it’s certainly an added bonus for the pollution-conscious gardener to take note of!
- Pesticide avoidance. This one is probably a given, but if you can avoid using chemicals on your garden, please do.
- Bringing plants indoors too. As well as planting outdoor plants to combat air toxicity, consider bringing in some houseplants to cleanse the air in your home.