You are planning to renovate your landscape. You want to be on trend but you also want it to be traditional so that it won’t need revamping every few years. The best way to go is with a sustainable landscape design.
Sustainable means that it is eco-friendly by reducing the reliance on non-renewable sources and is handled without the use of chemicals like pesticides and herbicides, especially those that can be detrimental to the soil or pollinators. All of this is easily accomplished while still maintaining a beautiful garden and turf. It is adaptable to any size area.
While sustainable landscapes incorporate more vegetation and less hard surface, there still needs to be some paths and driveways. Using materials that are more porous means the water will still drain properly. Some choices are mulch, gravel, and crushed brick.
Instead of fencing or walls, shrubbery or small trees can create boundaries while still maintaining a natural look.
The general idea is to use materials that do not need natural resources, or at least a limited amount, in order to create the final product. Good choices are recycled products and locally sourced and sustainable hardwood.
You will hear some words and phrases used consistently. Here is a brief outline of commonly used terms and what they mean.
- Xeriscape – A Greek term for ‘dry-land gardening’
- Bioswales – Creating swales to allow rainwater to soak into the ground rather than using curbs and gutters
- Rain Gardens – Another property drainage technique, it is designed to give proper drainage and still provide a viable habitat for the plants, animals and wildlife.
- Rainwater Harvesting – Instead of letting runoff and rain go down the street or gutters, use barrels, tanks, or other reservoirs to collect the water, store it for future use, and then apply it during dry periods.
- Pollinators – These are generally insects like bees and butterflies, but can include birds, bats or other wildlife to move pollen from one plant to another.
Use native plants. It makes sense. These are the flowers and trees that grow naturally in your locale. That means they are tolerant of the water, or lack thereof, and temperatures and tend to need little maintenance.
Start a vegetable garden. By growing organically, you will be eating more nutritious food at a lower cost. Involve the kids and see if they won’t try some vegetables just because they planted, watered, or harvested them.
Herbs are great for cooking and making teas. If left alone, they will also produce flowers that can be used to supplement your landscape.
When planting, make sure you group those plants that need the same amount of light and water together. So, don’t put a shade loving plant next to one that needs direct sun, or something you will drown next to a succulent.
Designing an environmentally responsible landscape isn’t difficult. It just takes a little research and planning. Work on it during the long winter and start implementing in the spring. You needn’t tackle all the changes at once; just one or two a season will do nicely.