To achieve sustainability, we have to conserve natural resources while encouraging environmental diversity. Your home’s landscape plan can do both.
It’s hard to think of a more sustainable landscape element than artificial grass. A lawn can be strictly decorative, or eminently practical, or both. But there’s nothing practical about natural grass when it comes to environmental friendliness or sustainability. You can simply do away with the decorative lawn in front of your home. Replace it with native and other drought tolerant plants and permeable hardscapes such as river rock or stepping stones.
But for family play and relaxation areas, there is no substitute for a lawn. Fortunately, faux grass delivers all the positives of natural grass without any of the negatives. No water. No fertilizers or pesticides. No mowing and other maintenance. That enhances the sustainability of your own life, because sustainability is all about balance. And artificial grass tips the balance in your favor when it comes to work vs. “me” time.
Water is a precious resource
We know how important it is to do drought tolerant landscaping by eliminating natural grass lawns and overly-thirsty plants from our lawn. But striving for minimal or no yard watering is just the beginning. Conserving water means working to eliminate wasteful runoff, too. A wisely conceived sustainable landscape plan achieves this by encouraging rainfall to remain, soaking into the soil where it can sustain plants and replenish the aquifer.
Capture rooftop runoff in rain barrels. Then use it to water plants in your garden or containers. Build small depressions in the soil surface where rainwater can pool near plants. If you install a drip irrigation system, separate the lines for small plants and larger shrubs and trees, because they have very different water needs. Check periodically for leaks. Use a programmable timer with a rain-sensing override, or a smart control system that only comes on when plants need moisture.
Beyond water conservation
With the right plants, you’ll need little to no irrigation. But you can do more:
- Choose plants properly sized for their space, to avoid repeated pruning that creates unnecessary yard waste. This is a major contributor to our rapidly overflowing landfills.
- Follow the “right plant, right place” mantra. Sun- and shade-lovers will thrive if you place them where they’re most comfortable.
- Use natural, organic fertilizers and insect controls, or make your own.
Landscape as habitat
Birds, bees, and butterflies add color and movement and friendly sounds to your landscape. And the pollinators perform critical service when it comes to sustaining diverse plant life. You can be a good environmental steward by designing a landscape that specifically appeals to wild critters. As they beautify your garden and entertain you, you’re helping them survive and thrive.
In urban and suburban neighborhoods, especially, nature needs all the habitat help it can get. There are four essentials to consider to attract backyard wildlife:
- Food (flower nectar, seeds, insects, berries)
- Water (a birdbath, fountain, or pond)
- Shelter (trees and shrubs, but also rock walls or piles or a hollow log)
- Space (quiet space, open space, flight/travel corridors)
How nice that these elements so important for wildlife are also the cornerstones of an eye-catching, water-wise garden design.
Take a tip from Mother Nature
In their natural environment, plants form layers. Trees are tallest, shrubs are shorter, perennials and annuals still shorter, and ground covers are lowest. This ensures that all types of wild critters have appropriate food and shelter sources. And taller plants provide shade for both flora and fauna that need it. The composite of heights, shapes, and textures is environmentally practical. Yet the result is an aesthetic that is visually rich and engaging.
Successful garden design follows this same concept of layering. So whether your goal is to attract more wildlife or simply create an attractive space for your family, you can design a sustainable landscape that serves our environment well and serves your needs well, too.