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Sustainable Landscaping: What is it and How do I do it?

Traditional landscaping is dependent on fossil fuels and chemicals and is responsible for the erosion of surface and ground waters. What may seem like a ‘green activity’ isn’t contributing to the global environment in a positive way.

A new movement in the green world is the idea of sustainable landscaping. When you make the choice to focus on sustainable landscaping, you’re combining the worlds of aesthetic and environment. Your sustainable yard and garden can address water management, air quality, climate modification, biodiversity, habitats and local food production, just to name a few things. Sustainable landscaping is based off adapting and responding to the surrounding environment.

How to Build Your Sustainable Landscape

  • Be smart in your water usage and treat water as a scarce resource. Consider using plants that use less water than others. Use rainfall and runoff as your main source of water for your plants. Try to come up with certain locations to serve as water collection sites.
  • Eliminate fossil fuels and chemicals by avoiding fertilizers and other preservative chemicals. Consider alternative soil management techniques, like composting kitchen and yard wastes to encourage healthy soil and reduce harmful fertilizers.
  • Promote biodiversity in your selection of plants and use only native or adapted non-invasive plate species.
  • Create an energy-efficient landscape design by properly choosing and placing trees to provide shade and wind breaks.
  • Choose as many plants as you can or would like. The less lawn the better, since it requires the most attention and water.
  • Consider solar-powered landscape lighting to decrease your energy usage.

Advantages of Sustainable Landscaping

  • Using native or adapted plants diminishes the need for man-made fertilizers, which are expensive and harmful to the surrounding areas.
  • Sustainable landscaping helps support local ecosystems, which are important and often overlooked. Sustainable landscaping helps promote diversity for organisms and strengthens ecosystems.
  • Sustainable landscapes are aesthetically pleasing and are easy to make impressive to the eye.
  • Soil structures are rebuilt and soil health is rejuvenated with sustainable landscapes.
  • If you are intentional with your plant choices, you can incorporate food production in the landscape. This a fun challenge and may save you money in the long run.
  • These landscapes require much less work and money than a regular lawn. Less time spent mowing the lawn, more time doing things you actually enjoy!
  • Sustainable landscapes isolate carbon, which improves the environment and helps your plants.
  • These landscapes clean the air and water around it. Air, water, and soil pollution are prevented much easier in sustainable landscapes.
  • By creating a sustainable landscape, you are able to avoid electric or gas hedge trimmers, and can probably get by with just hand shears. This will reduce air pollution, help save some money, promote plant longevity and reduce the amount of waste over time.

There are tons of programs available to provide resources for sustainable landscapes. There are programs for neighborhoods and golf courses, as well as programs that will provide points-based certification for landscapes.