10 Tips for a Sustainable Landscape
By Veronica Sliva
Sustainable landscaping is about improving or working with the environment to create a landscape that is in balance with the local climate. It requires minimal additional resources such as fertilizer, pesticides and water. A short-term goal could include using a compost bin. A long-term goal could be to create a more self-sustaining garden that involves all aspects of healthy plant care such as choosing appropriate plants as well as eliminating chemical solutions. Here are 10 tips to create a more sustainable landscape on your piece of paradise:
- Shrink Your Lawn
Those expanses of green turf take an enormous amount of resources. Eliminate some of your lawn and create a more natural landscape. You’ll ultimately use less water and reduce chemical use and save some money too. As well, you’ll do less mowing and raking.
- Gather Rain Water
Harvesting rain water in barrels helps to conserve water and save money. Rain water is soft and pure and requires no treatment. You can use it to water your garden, your houseplants or even wash your hair with it.
- Use Mulch
Mulched beds improve the appearance of any landscape. But more than importantly, mulch protects the plants' root systems and adds nutrients to the soil. Mulch slows soil erosion, retains moisture and helps to prevent weeds. You’ll spend less time weeding and watering your garden and more time enjoying it.
- Compost, Compost, Compost
Composting organic kitchen and garden waste produces rich humus and improves the soil. By composting you reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill sites, thus reducing greenhouse gases. You also save money on chemical fertilizers.
- Choose Native Plants
Native plants are better able to withstand drought conditions and poor soil. They are also better able to resist pests and diseases, thus reducing the need for harmful chemicals.
- Attract Pollinators to Your Yard
By growing a variety of plants you increase the number of different wildlife species that are attracted to your garden. Insects, bees, birds and bats contribute to a healthy ecosystem by transporting pollen from one plant to another during fertilization.
- Plant Shade Trees
Planting deciduous shade trees near your house will help cut your air conditioning bills in summer. In the fall deciduous trees drop their leaves allowing more sun to shine into your home and so help to reduce heating costs. But, trees deliver more than cost savings; they are important carbon sinks and help to reduce global climate change.
- Plant Edible Ornamentals
You can produce a beautiful landscape as well as tasty food for the table by integrating edible plants into your garden. For example, runner beans, ruby chard, globe artichokes, nasturtiums and garlic chives blend happily with purely ornamental plants.
- Use Local Materials
Rather than using exotic materials trucked in great distances for your landscaping projects, consider using stone, salvageable concrete, used bricks, and other recyclable materials found locally.
- Choose Alternatives to Power Equipment
Instead of a power lawn mower consider using a push mower. Instead of a string weed trimmer use hand shears, a scythe or a hoe. Instead of a gas blower for leaves, use a rake or broom, or better still allow leaves to remain in place to decompose and add nutrients to the soil. Instead of a lawn, think about creating a meadow.