Reduce air pollution with your garden

We’re used to the idea of “getting away from the city” for some country air, but that thought it becoming increasingly more serious; the air quality in UK cities is becoming ever-more appalling. In fact, London hit its legal limit of air pollution for the entire year of 2018 in less than a month. This report from the Guardian also states that approximately 40,000 deaths are linked to the poor air quality of UK cities.

For those of us living in urban areas, air pollution is a real problem that needs addressing. One big way you can protect yourself from air pollution is to adapt your garden to suit. If your garden has poor soil quality, even the cheapest topsoil can turn that around so you can start growing for better air! Here, we explore the best air-purifying plants to add to your garden.


For a delicate dash of colour, bring the Erysimum, commonly known as the wallflower, into your back yard. Goldsmiths, University of London, names this plant as being akin to the common ivy for its particulate-cleansing power. These flowers have a bright display of petals during the first half of the year. You can grow wallflowers in many colours, with purple and yellow popular choices.

Gerbera daisies

In fact, greener air can come in all sorts of colours! A recent study by NASA has provided a few colourful blooms for gardeners keen to clean the air.
Pink, white, red, or orange, gerbera daisies come in a variety of hues, so you’re sure to find one that will suit your garden. These flowers love direct sunlight and a bit of space, so make sure not to leave them in a shady corner of your garden.
The blooms are noted by NASA as being a top pick for filtering many toxins from the air, including benzene.

English Ivy

The staple British climbing plant, you may already have this next one creeping along the wall of your home. Though it has a bad reputation in the States as being a weed, it can be a lovely addition to your garden if tended to.
Goldsmiths revealed how English ivy is great for trapping harmful particulates in the air, thanks to its large leaves, so it’s an easy choice for those wanting to filter the air around them.


Homes & Property vouch for the effectiveness of hedges for cleaning the air in your garden, with conifers in particular noted for their air-filtering properties. Specifically, the western red cedar hedge is named as an idea conifer to plant in your garden. But if your garden is a little smaller, the publication also names the yew as a great alternative, citing its evergreen nature and easy trimming.

Best garden practices

Beyond plants, there’s a few practices you can put in place to make sure the air stays clean. You have to consider how you are tending to your garden.  Here’s five ways to keep your garden habits air-friendly, according to SmilingGardener:

  1. Start composting. You can turn many waste products into compost to stop it going to the landfill.
  2. Avoid corn gluten meal. SmilingGardener notes this meal is made up from genetically modified corn, so best to stay away from using it, if possible.
  3. Quiet equipment. This one’s more for noise pollution, but it’s certainly an added bonus for the pollution-conscious gardener to take note of!
  4. Stay away from using pesticides. This one is probably a given, but if you can avoid using chemicals on your garden, please do.
  5. Consider indoors as well as outdoors. As well as planting outdoor plants to combat air toxicity, consider bringing in some houseplants to cleanse the air in your home.


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