What does climate change mean for your garden?

How is the UK climate changing?

Temperature & solar radiation

  • 8 of the 10 warmest years for the UK have occurred since 2002, and the most recent decade (2006–2015) was 0.9°C warmer than 1961–1990. The natural variability of UK temperatures means that we would not expect to see progressive warming each year.
  • The amount of solar radiation available for plant growth has increased by around 5% relative to 1961–1990. This has been linked to a reduction in cloud cover.


  • Over Scotland and upland areas of north England there has been a significant increase in rainfall since the early 1900s, with 7 of the 10 wettest years for the UK occurring since 1998.

What are the climate projections?

  • Average temperature is projected to increase in all seasons and across all regions of the UK.
  • There will continue to be high year on year variability in rainfall.
  • It is likely that there will be an increase in the number of dry spells, and this will be most pronounced in southern areas of the UK, and especially over the summer months.
  • The frequency of very wet days will increase over the winter, and this will be most pronounced in northern areas of the UK
  • It is theoretically possible that in the future, much of the UK could be frost free in some years.

What does this mean for your garden?

  • Warmer springs and autumns will extend the growing season therefore, some species will flower earlier and some will experience delayed leaf colouring or leaf fall. There will also be the need for more weeding, mowing and pruning.
  • A longer growing season might allow for a wider variety of plant species to be grown. When attempting to grow different varieties, gardeners will face a continual trade–off between a longer growing season and extreme weather events.
  • Extreme rainfall events might increase the rate that nutrients, particularly nitrogen are washed out of the soil. Therefore, the timing of fertiliser application should be carefully considered.
  • Dry spells are projected to occur more often; therefore gardeners will need to consider methods of capturing water during intense rainfall events.
  • It is expected that warmer conditions will favour the spread of existing pests and diseases, in addition to aiding the establishment of new cases.

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