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How To Mitigate An Early Spring

earth down

Over the course of the last century, seasons world-wide have advanced an average of 28 days. The last decade has seen the fastest gains, with the last two years breaking records for both highest and lowest temperatures ever recorded. Overall, amounts of annual precipitation have decreased, but at the same time, deluges of cataclysmic proportions are happening. 2023 saw more catastrophic weather related events than ever before, and so far, it appears that 2024 will simply repeat that disheartening pattern. 

These climate changes are altering the rhythms of the natural world. Flowers are blooming earlier, insects are out of sync with their food sources and migration patterns of birds and fish are disrupted. Sometimes, as we observe all of this, it seems that our planet is on an unstoppable downward spiral.

While it’s true that we can’t make the daffodils stop blooming, or ask the birds to come a week or two later, there are some very simple things that we, as individuals, can do to help counteract the alarming changes we are experiencing and to help restore balance in the environment. 

boys planting


To get you thinking, we've put together a list of 15 very do-able actions.


  • Replace worn out gas powered equipment with electric, or even hand powered options. A gas powered mower operated for one hour pollutes 10 to 12 times that of the average car driven for 45 miles. Pushing a rotary mower for 30 minutes burns about 160 calories and emits 0 pollutants.

lawn mower

  • Turn off unnecessary outdoor lights. Light pollution is particularly harmful for insects like moths, crickets and fireflies that are active at night. Their ability to navigate, find food and mate is disrupted by light in what would naturally be dark skies. While our porch, walkway, patio or  deck lights seem insignificant, research shows that over the last decade, night skies in North America and Europe brightened by almost 10 percent each year.

nighty map

  • Collect rainwater. Adding a rain barrel or two can offer significant benefits as water prices rise and availability falls. The stored water can be used for trees, shrubs flowers, but because of potential toxins in roof run-off, rain barrel water isn’t safe for food crops. 

rain barrel

  •  Compost kitchen and clean yard waste. Less waste in landfills means less methane gas produced. Methane is more than 28 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. Compost is a great source of natural nutrients, which means less fertilizer is needed.


  • Choose drought tolerant plants. A half-dead landscape because of a lack of water not only looks depressing, but also deprives wildlife of the food and shelter they need to survive. Xeriscaping doesn’t limit you to a yard full of cactus; there are many beautiful plants that are water-wise. 

drought tolerant

  • Plant for diversity and avoid monocultures.  For one thing, disease and insect damage are more likely to spread quickly in monocultures since they are often host specific.  On the other hand, a diverse landscape offers pollinators of all types a variety of food sources and places to shelter.  


  • Design with wildlife in mind.  Diversity in the landscape results in diversity in insect, bird and wildlife communities. Include trees, shrubs, native perennials, flowering annuals and open spaces in the landscape. Find an open spot (sandy soil is best), for ground nesting bees. Include a small, muddy space for butterflies to stop, rest and have a drink of water. Leave a brush pile or two for safe shelter from wind, rain and predators. Intentionally plant a variety of butterfly larval host plants. Thyme, parsley, fennel and dill are favorites, so plant some for you and some for them! 


  • Go native. Native plants, especially those that are locally grown, adapt more easily to area conditions  Once established, they need less water, fertilizer and routine maintenance than ornamentals. Like any plant though, the needs of the plant should match the conditions  in which it is planted. Remember the gardening adage:  right plant in the right place. 


  • Plant an appropriate tree. In one year, a mature live tree can absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide. Well chosen and properly placed trees can not only provide food and shelter to wildlife, but can save you hundreds of dollars per year on your energy costs.

tree planting

  • Ensure a variety of blooms throughout the entire growing season. With bloom times becoming out of sync with pollinators, birds and animals, it is crucial that gardeners extend the length of their bloom season as far as possible. Begin the growing season with early spring bulbs, ephemerals and flowering trees, then continue with a cascade of flowers until heavy frost hits. 

flowering tree

  • Encourage neighbors to add insect appropriate gardens too. With large swathes of their natural habitat gone, insects are having to travel longer distances to find food and shelter, which adds more stress to an already weakened population.. Providing multiple safe options within a three to five mile range brings a flood of healthy, happy pollinators into the neighborhood.

back gardens

  • Adopt a no-till policy. Disturbing the soil, even with a shovel releases carbon into the atmosphere, changes the structure of the soil, disturbs beneficial microorganisms and opens up the possibility of soil erosion. Initially, tilled soil is loosened, but is later more likely to settle and become compacted. 


  • Avoid peat-based products. For years, peat moss was the go-to garden supplement. Today we know that peat is a nonrenewable resource and that even years after harvesting, unrestored peat bogs continue to release carbon into the atmosphere.  Instead of peat products, use compost, coconut coir or leaf mold, which is another name for decomposed  leaves. 


  • Remove invasive plants. Replace with natives. Native plants have evolved over time to meet the needs of local pollinators. Kudzu, purple loosestrife, Bradford pear trees, Japanese honeysuckle, English Ivy and  Japanese barberry are among the worst.


  • Weed less  Many plants seen as weeds can actually be great groundcovers. They can bring biodiversity to the garden and add nutrient rich organic matter to the soil as they die and decompose. Do remove invasive weeds, or those that will eventually upset the balance of the ecosystem. Good weeds, those with especially high nutrient value, include:  dandelions, white clover, chickweed and lambs quarters.

white clover