Keeping Carbon In Your Garden: Carbon Sequestration 101

Carbon sequestration is a broad term with a simple meaning and packs a lot of punch for the planet. Carbon sequestration is when valuable carbon is returned to the soil. Many scientists believe that carbon sequestration has the potential to slow down climate change. Did you know that soils can hold almost four times as much carbon as living matter and three times as much carbon in the atmosphere? A mere 2% increase of carbon in soils on the planet could even offset all greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. That’s huge!


Not all soils are created equal, which makes organic soil one of the best for carbon sequestration. Organic soil components are made from carbon-rich organic matter produced by living or former living organisms, and healthy vegetation is created by soil rich in organic matter. Healthy vegetation works with the organic soil and beneficial microorganisms to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it as soil carbon. You can offset the carbon released into the atmosphere by choosing organic soil over inorganic soil. This simple but important step is huge in addressing climate change. You can do so many things in your garden to practice carbon sequestering, including the following.


Your garden can jumpstart the conversion of atmospheric carbon to organic material. The compost improves the conditions for beneficial microorganisms to keep your plants healthy and increases their water-holding capacity, which keeps them hydrated.

  • Tip: This will increase plant growth and carbon storage, which is a win-win situation for your plants and the planet.

Minimize Soil Disturbance

Compaction, erosion, and tillage are all harmful to soil. Compacted soils don’t have enough space between soil particles for air and water, so plants, fungi, and microbes cannot thrive while tilling and erosion expose soil carbon to oxygen, which is then released into the atmosphere.

  • Tip: You want the carbon to remain in your soil!

Keep Soil Covered

Mulch promotes microbial activity, helps soil retain moisture, and prevents soil erosion. The roots of woody perennial plants are rich in carbon, which makes them a great habitat for beneficial microorganisms.

  • Tip: Your mulch and plants can be thought of as a calming and weighted blanket that helps to stabilize the soil’s ecosystem.

Avoid Synthetic Fertilizers, Herbicides, and Pesticides.

Synthetic inputs can harm microorganisms that store carbon. Synthetic nitrogen fertilizer may also cause nitrous oxide emissions 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

  • Tip: Ensure that fertilizers are natural and organic, as they can help return valuable nutrients to the soil.

Protect Your Large Trees

Mature trees have many benefits in fighting climate change, including helping to prevent the release of stored carbon.

  • Tip: Mulch and plants can be a weighted blanket for tranquility. Mature trees make a great hug and provide a dozen blankets to protect your soil.

There are many other ways a gardener can help sequester carbon in their soil, including adding compost to their crops, mulching, and using cover cropping. Not only does it benefit the plants and the food you grow, but the earth also benefits from sequestering carbon. These small actions can make a huge difference! Carbon sequestration stats & quick facts:

  • A 2% increase in the planet’s carbon content could offset all greenhouse gas emissions going into the atmosphere.
  • Cover crops and composting increased the soil’s carbon content by 12.6%
  • The soils can store three times as much carbon as the atmosphere and four times that in living matter.
  • It’s possible to offset the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide by increasing soil carbon content by 4% per year.


      • Dr. Rattan Lal Ohio State Soil Scientist
      • 2019 UC Davis Researchers
      • Rescape + Pacific Gas & Electric
      • American University, Washington D.C.
      • The International 4 Per 1000 Initiative


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