After reading this review, you can heave a big sigh of relief -I will have caught up with all my gardening related book reviews!
Having just finished Climate-Wise Landscaping, I feel very au courant in writing this review!
I'm not sure what I was expecting, but somehow this book seemed different from what the title suggested it was going to be - different in a good way, more important, filling a gap that's been existing in gardening literature.
Every single piece of land can help heal our planet.
There are ten sections in this book, each section dealing with an area of the landscape around a typical home, wherever it is located, starting with the lawn. Why do Reed and Stibolt begin with the lawn? As they put it, "...[C]hanging the way we think about and deal with our lawns might be the easiest and most significant step we can take to help the planet." How much lawn do you think there is in the continental U.S.? According to the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, as quoted in this book, there is about 63,000 square miles of lawn, an area approximately the size of the state of West Virginia. That's a lot of lawn - and most of it gets mowed weekly, inundated with fertilizers and pesticides, and irrigated. Despite all those inputs, lawn produces no food, for people or even for wildlife. It's essentially a sterile wasteland.
Reed and Stibolt go on to cover many other ways we can help the climate by changing the way we use our landscape. For example, planting trees sequesters a lot of carbon, as does, surprisingly to me, increasing the health of soils and decreasing the disturbance to them. Did you know that soils sequester more than 4 times the amount of carbon as forests? I didn't. Apparently they are the second largest carbon dioxide absorbing system on our planet, after oceans. I also didn't know that every time you disturb the soil - through digging, for example - you release carbon dioxide. So switching from planting annuals, which have to be replanted regularly, to planting perennials actually helps the planet by sequestering carbon!
I'm all for minimizing digging, so that's what I call a win-win.
There's a section on how good planning and design of a landscape can help decrease energy use (and thus carbon dioxide emissions), as well as a section specifically devoted to urban issues. Each section contains an introductory explanation, followed by a series of "Action Topics", specific ways you can make your landscape work to help stabilize Earth's climate and often to help yourself and other living things at the same time.
Last, but hardly least, the final section covers materials that are commonly used in landscaping and evaluates their carbon footprint, helping us choose rationally among such options as concrete, brick, stone, even asphalt. This is the first time I've ever seen a carbon analysis of landscaping materials and I really appreciate finding it included in this book.
This is an excellent resource to start with if you're interested in personally doing something specific to help the future of our species and of our planet. It's a broad overview of the topics covered; for specific details, you will probably want to explore the areas that interest you further, with further reading or study. Most of all, Climate-Wise Landscaping examines a broad array of possibilities - and possibilities are a great starting point for building a better future.