Sustainable landscape design creates beautiful outdoor living space without detracting from the natural surroundings. This style of landscaping has evolved in recent years to promote a more environmentally-friendly method of enjoying our outdoor property. Sustainable landscaping techniques can be integrated into nearly any garden style, including Mediterranean, English garden, and even desert designs. The primary principles of a sustainable design are:
- Little to no use of treated materials, insecticides, and chemical-based products.
- Minimize reliance on limited natural resources – paving materials, water, fossil fuels, etc.
- Reduce waste and reuse resources.
- Create natural energy options whenever possible.
- Replenish wildlife by providing natural habitats and nesting areas.
Sustainable Outdoor Materials
Materials that complement the style of your home while minimizing the environmental impact of landscaping are an important part of sustainable outdoor design. Hardscape features are constructed with porous materials that encourage drainage; natural evergreen hedges minimize the use of materials. Treated materials and scarce natural resources are avoided – incorporating recycled plastic, reused materials like crushed brick and salvaged wood, and natural elements such as shrubbery and stone instead.
Plants for a Sustainable Garden
Vegetation is crucial to an eco-friendly landscape design. Hardy, fast-growing bamboo is popular for shade and privacy, while natural wildflower gardens invite wildlife and require little maintenance. Organic vegetable gardens are often integrated into the plans and fruit or nut trees often replace traditional ornamentals. These tips will help you choose the best plants for your sustainable landscape design:
- Preserve existing plant life whenever possible. Relocate vegetation if necessary.
- Select plants that thrive in your area and buy them locally if possible.
- Know the water needs of each plant and group those with similar needs together when planting.
- Use shade trees and hedges to increase energy efficiency by positioning them to block mid-day sun or to shield your home from the wind.
Sustainable Landscaping Techniques
There are several gardening techniques noted for their sustainability and environmental benefits. These styles integrate vegetation and beauty into your outdoor space, while also promoting a natural environment for growth and wildlife with minimal impact on the planet. A few popular techniques include:
Green roofs are common features in sustainable landscape designs. Rather than redirect rain water away from building tops, this garden style retains water and uses it to grow vegetables, potted plants, and colorful flowers. Green roofs make use of a typically ignored surface while reducing pollution.
Bioswales are storm water drainage systems that double as natural garden areas. Ornamental grasses and native wildflowers provide refuge to wildlife and add maintenance-free vegetation to your outdoor space.
Rain gardens are another sustainable option for drainage. A depression is created to collect, store, and filter rainwater runoff. A grassy area typically serves as the first filter, followed by a layer of mulch that allows nutrients to reach plants and trees. The depression stores a small amount of water and nourishes ground covers, shrubs, and trees within the planting area.
Xeriscaping is a specific landscape style, utilizing native plants and natural planting areas to minimize dependency on natural resources. Xeriscapes require about 60% less water than traditional landscape designs.
Sustainable landscape design can be used within any garden style by opting for eco-friendly materials and accessories and integrating sustainable features that reduce the need for nonrenewable resources. A professional design firm can help you choose native plants that blend with the style of your home and can create a plan that will lower the environmental impact of your outdoor space. Low-maintenance, versatile, and planet friendly, sustainable landscape design brings nature to your door.