Now more than ever, sustainability should be an essential factor in your landscape design in Denver, or wherever you may be. As the natural environment faces so many threats, it’s important to do our part to conserve natural resources and protect the other forms of life around us. Of course, no one person can address pollution or climate change, but you can make a difference in your little corner of the world by practicing sustainable landscaping.
Sustainability is a word we all know, but might not quite have a clear definition. But what exactly is sustainability? And how does it look in terms of landscaping? That’s why we’ve crafted this brief guide on sustainable landscaping practices. First, we define sustainability, learn how it applies to landscaping, and offer some practical tips for making your landscape a more sustainable space.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABILITY?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), sustainability is based on one core principle: “everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment.” As more people move to cities and technology allows us to work, interact, and entertain ourselves without leaving the house, it’s easy for people to forget the importance of our natural environment. Without the environment to provide for us, nothing in our lives would be possible.
Sustainability encourages people to recognize this critical relationship and value it by protecting our natural resources. Sustainability highlights the fact that all life on earth, humans included, are intimately linked to other forms of life on the planet. For all of us to thrive, we need to find balance with the animals, plants, and other forms of life that make our lives possible.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE LANDSCAPING?
Sustainable landscaping applies the principle of sustainability to your yard and overall landscape design. Sustainable landscaping encourages decisions that put your landscape in harmony with the natural environment, preserve natural resources, and require less chemicals that can harm the environment. Here are some of the ways that anyone can work toward making their yard more sustainable:
Choosing the right plants, trees, and flowers is a critical step in the landscaping process. While aesthetics is important (isn’t this why we landscape to begin with?), you should also consider how the plant species will survive in your local environment. By planting native trees and flowers, you dramatically increase the survival rate of your flora.
Factors like wind, rain, sun, and temperature shape the ability of plants and trees to survive in certain climates. Native plants have evolved to survive (and thrive) in your climate, which means you’ll spend less on replacing your plants and can sit back and watch them grow. Native plants are also better at fending off insects, fungi, and bacteria. Not only does this help them survive, but you’ll also spend less on pesticides and herbicides that can damage the environment.
And finally, native plants and trees are also more effective at providing a home for local wildlife. If you’re looking for a landscape filled with birds and other wildlife, native plants are your best bet. This also helps to reduce the impact of habitat loss for these native species.
SUSTAINABLE LAWN CARE
For many homeowners, the lawn is the jewel in the crown of landscaping. Without a healthy and vibrant lawn, not much else really matters if you’re looking to be the most impressive house on the block. Healthy soil is critical to a healthy lawn and the long-term success of your trees, plants, and flowers.
Sustainable lawn care is surprisingly simple. Aerating your lawn (just once or twice a year) allows water, air, and nutrients to penetrate the soil and keep it healthy and productive. This practice also helps sustain your grass roots. When mowing, you should set the deck to 3 or 4 inches high to protect the strength of the grass roots and prevent erosion.
Erosion is a common problem for landscaping projects, especially those in areas with high levels of precipitation, as the construction disrupts the natural composition of the land and soil. Erosion can destroy your yard, plants, and carry away important nutrients. Keep the potential for erosion in mind whenever your landscaping disturbs the soil.
Using porous materials, like gravel, for driveways and walkways help prevent erosion by absorbing rainwater. Utilizing more plants and trees throughout your property also helps prevent erosion by stabilizing the soil with their roots.
As sustainability becomes a feature in more and more landscapes, it’s easier to find eco-friendly materials that can reduce the environmental impact of your yard. Look for construction materials that include recycled or biodegradable materials. Think about how you could also potentially use renewable energy, like solar lights or solar panels, for your landscape. Many homeowners also opt to use reclaimed materials that not only conserve resources, but also keep more cash in your wallet at the same time.
SUSTAINABILITY CAN SAVE YOU MONEY
Believe it or not, but a sustainable landscape can actually save you money. While some sustainable practices may require more upfront cost, over time, a sustainable landscape requires far less time and money. Using native plants, for example, requires less pesticide costs and you won’t have to constantly replace dead plants.
CONCLUSION – WHAT ARE SUSTAINABLE LANDSCAPING PRACTICES?
Sustainability does not need to be a tradeoff for a beautiful and creative landscape. In fact, in many ways, sustainability can improve your landscape by allowing you to use less chemicals, preserve natural resources, and have more successful plants and trees that not only survive—but thrive. Sustainability can also save you time and money because your landscape is working in harmony with its local environment.
The next time you’re in Colorado and on the hunt for new ideas for landscape designs in Denver, make sure you consider the potential for sustainability and how this choice will impact the natural environment. Sustainable landscaping doesn’t mean you can’t impact your outdoor space. Rather, sustainable landscaping focuses on methods and practices for lessening the potential damage you could cause and allowing your landscape to thrive with the world around it.