From the Community Carbon Team at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Beaverton, OR
In two months, St. Andrew’s Community Carbon team has visited nine suburban yards to collect baseline data on the potential for increasing carbon sequestration and carbon storage in our yards. Many homeowners have asked us what they should do to achieve the best results in the fastest time.
It may take several years for science to provide a definitive answer, but that doesn’t mean we know nothing. We’ve actually learned quite a lot about what is needed to heal the soil so that the remarkable carbon cycle Earth depends on for all life can come into balance.
Here are a few things you can do this fall to heal the Earth:
1. Plant a native tree. If you don’t have room for a tree, plant native shrubs. Surround those trees and shrubs with native perennials. Photosynthesis grabs CO2 from the air and produces sugars to feed these plants. Then the plants transfer excess carbon into the soil. That carbon becomes more and more stable as microbes process it.
2. Begin removing any landscape cloth you have in your yard. Lay down cardboard instead before adding a layer of compost or mulch. Cardboard decomposes and allows soil microorganisms to work their magic stabilizing carbon, while landscape cloth creates a barrier that prevents soil formation.
3. Stop bagging up your grass clippings. Leave them on your lawn to decompose in place. They’ll feed the millions of microbes in the soil. In addition, emissions created by trucks that otherwise haul all that debris away will be reduced. Try the same approach with fallen leaves (unless they simply bury your yard and overwhelm the microorganisms you’re
trying to nurture).
4. If you can’t make enough of your own compost and mulch—and few of us can—then buy those products in bulk from local suppliers who acquire their products locally. Avoid the plastic packaging you get in big box stores. Mulch any bare ground you have to keep the soil moist and to feed soil microorganisms. Nature doesn’t like naked soil.
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