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  • Writer's pictureCountry Girl Gardens

Sustainable Landscaping

Updated: Apr 25, 2023


Wooden stairs installed on a hillside with basalt rocks as the walls
Country Girl Gardens | Outdoor Stairs

Sustainable Landscaping That Provides Beauty and Functionality to Your Outdoor Living Space


What is sustainable landscaping?

Sustainable landscaping has become increasingly important as we face the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation. As a homeowner you can play a significant role in promoting sustainability by implementing eco-friendly practices in your home landscape.

Sustainable landscaping refers to the use of eco-friendly practices and design principles to create and maintain a healthy and functional outdoor space around your home that is an extension of your lifestyle and elevates your outdoor living experience while also being good for the planet.

A sustainable landscape promotes the conservation of natural resources, reduction of waste and pollution, and the preservation of local ecosystems. It involves using sustainable building materials, selecting native and drought-resistant plants, efficient irrigation systems, and implementing eco-friendly maintenance practices to reduce the environmental impact of a landscape. A sustainable landscape also offers economic benefits, such as reducing maintenance costs, conserving water resources, and increasing property value.

Benefits to having a sustainable landscape

A sustainable landscape offers a range of benefits. One of the most significant benefits is the reduction of water usage. A sustainable landscape typically incorporates drought-resistant plants and efficient irrigation systems, reducing the need for excess water usage. This not only conserves water resources but also leads to a reduction in water bills.

A sustainable landscape also promotes biodiversity. By planting native species and creating habitats for wildlife, you can contribute to the preservation of local ecosystems. Biodiversity is essential for maintaining a healthy environment, as it supports the pollination of plants and the overall balance of ecosystems. The goal is to have a landscape design that enriches the natural habitat and encourages wildlife habitats.


A landscaped flowerbed with rocks around the perennials

Economic benefits associated with sustainable home landscape:

Reduced maintenance costs

A sustainable landscape can reduce maintenance costs over time. For example, using drought-resistant plants that require less water can help reduce your water bill. Implementing sustainable practices such as composting and using natural fertilizers can also save you money on soil amendments and fertilizers.

A design process for planting perennials can be done in a way that will reduce weeds and discourage their growth, while promoting better soil health is cost efficient. Proper plant selection can work wonders on lessening weeds, deterring plant pests, and attracting native wildlife.

Increased property value

A sustainable landscape can increase the value of your property. According to a study by the National Association of Realtors, sustainable landscaping can add up to 15% to the value of a home. This is because a sustainable landscape is often seen as a desirable feature among homebuyers.

A home with flower beds, deciduous trees and water efficient irrigation heads is proven to be more desirable to buyers which will result in a higher property value. The landscape is an investment and is the first thing people see when they pull up to your home. When done properly it will last the lifetime of your home.

Lower energy bills

Sustainable landscaping can help reduce your energy bills. For example, planting trees or shrubs strategically can provide shade that reduces the need for air conditioning. Additionally, installing rain barrels or other rainwater harvesting systems can reduce the need for irrigation, which can lower your water bill.

Work with the local environment by taking into consideration natural processes so that you can work in conjunction with them to increase energy efficiency through the use of native plants, drought tolerant plants, use of organic matter for conserving water and minimizing the use of chemical fertilizers.

Reduced carbon footprint

A sustainable home landscape can help reduce your carbon footprint. Planting trees and shrubs can help sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Plants turn air pollution into usable air. Deciduous trees are especially beneficial because they absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere during photosynthesis and store it in their trunks, roots, and leaves. By planting trees in your yard, you can help reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, thus helping to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Improved health

A sustainable home landscape can improve your health, which can lead to economic benefits. For example, spending time in nature has been linked to reduced stress and improved mental health. Additionally, keeping a vegetable garden and growing your own fruits and vegetables can reduce costs on groceries and improve your overall health.

A compost bin works hand in hand with a vegetable garden to reduce waste from your kitchen and yard trimmings while creating organic materials that can be added to your garden soil to improve its quality.


A grass pathway between landscaped beds featuring a dry creekbed and natural stone

Sustainable landscape design

When designing a sustainable home landscape, it is essential to assess the site and consider the following factors so that you can choose the most environmentally friendly options:

Climate:

The climate in your region will influence the type of plants that will thrive in your landscape. Understanding your climate will also help you determine the most efficient irrigation system to use.

Soil type:

Soil conditions affect plant growth and water retention. Healthy soil is critical for a thriving landscape since it provides nutrients, determines water retention, promotes healthy root growth and supports beneficial organisms.

Utilizing organic mulch and compost can help to improve soil quality and retain moisture, while also reducing maintenance needs. Additionally, incorporating rain barrels or other water-saving features can help to save water resources.

Sun exposure:

Understanding the amount of sunlight that your landscape receives will help you select plants that will thrive in those conditions.

Once you have assessed the site, it's time to plan the layout. Sustainable landscapes should be designed to maximize natural features and incorporate sustainable design principles. The use of permeable hardscaping, such as gravel or pavers, can help reduce runoff and promote water infiltration. Creating functional outdoor spaces, such as a patio or garden, can also improve the overall functionality of your landscape. Reducing turf areas is a great way to save water, since it requires a large amount of water to maintain it.

Some key factors to keep in mind for a full sun landscape would include incorporating shade trees to provide relief from direct sunlight, and utilizing hardscaping features like rocks or gravel to help retain moisture in the soil and choosing plants that can handle the sun's rays for the majority of the day.

In contrast, when selecting plants for shade, it is important to choose species that are well-suited to the specific amount of light available in your shade garden, such as ferns, hostas, or hydrangeas. Incorporating hardscaping features like pathways or seating areas can provide structure and visual interest, while also allowing for better access and enjoyment of the space. By taking these steps, homeowners and landscape managers can create a sustainable landscape that not only thrives in shade conditions but also reduces environmental impacts and contributes to a healthier ecosystem.

The right plant in the right place means the difference between long term failure or success. Proper design will ensure that the plants you choose can grow to full size without encroaching on other plants, landscape features or your home.


Flowers and perennials in a nursery

Plant selection for a sustainable landscape

Selecting the right plants for your landscape is crucial to its success. Native plants are ideal for sustainable landscapes as they are adapted to the local climate and require less water and maintenance. Drought-resistant plants, such as Oregon Grape and Lavender, are also a great option for homeowners who want to conserve water. Additionally, low-maintenance plants, such as ornamental grasses, can reduce the need for regular maintenance and upkeep.

Sustainable landscaping practices

Sustainable landscaping practices are essential for maintaining a healthy and eco-friendly landscape. Water conservation is one of the most critical aspects of maintaining a sustainable landscape. Efficient irrigation systems, such as drip irrigation or soaker hoses, can reduce water usage by up to 50%.

Soil management

Soil management is another important aspect to ensure a sustainable landscape. Composting is an effective way to enrich soil with nutrients and promote healthy plant growth. Indoors you can compost your kitchen waste in a small compost bin and outdoors you can create a pile of yard trimmings that will break down over time. Composting is a great way to reduce waste and create a valuable resource that can be used in your garden.

Mulching

Mulching is another essential soil management practice that can improve soil health, retain moisture, and reduce weed growth. There are many different kinds of mulch that provide solutions to surface water and stormwater runoff that can help with erosion control. You will want to choose the proper mulch for each specific site.

Plant maintenance

Plant maintenance is crucial for sustaining a healthy and thriving landscape. Pruning and trimming promote healthy growth and can prevent the spread of disease. Pest management should also be conducted in an eco-friendly manner, using natural or organic methods. Fertilizer use should be minimized, and when used, should be done in moderation and with eco-friendly options.

Overall, home landscaping can reduce carbon footprint by reducing water usage, conserving resources, and promoting a more sustainable environment. By making small changes to your landscaping practices, you can help mitigate the effects of climate change and create a more eco-friendly home.

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