Impacting Our Environment with Sustainable Landscaping
By Olive Mcgee
"If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through with it." — Lyndon B. Johnson
These wise words had little impact on how America cared for the planet. However, in 1970 the United States took a giant leap forward with a plan that created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The goal was to create conditions where man and nature can exist in productive harmony. Programs such as recycling, emissions control, conservation, and reforesting have all been addressed by organizations and governments. However, just as important are the small steps taken by individuals. Using sustainable landscaping has an impact on the environment.
According to TheSustainableLandscape.com some of the environmental issues faced from home landscaping can include:
- Water pollution
- Water shortages
- Soil health
- Fertilizer run-off
- Non-renewable resources
- Energy usage
All of these can seem like small problems when considering the small size of your yard. But multiply that by all of the yards combined, and it becomes much bigger.
Sustainable landscaping is responsive to the environment, regenerative, and contributes to the ecosystem rather than depletes it. Creating landscaping that accomplishes this doesn't have to be difficult. Keeping these ideas in mind when designing your landscaping, you can reach the goal of sustainable landscaping.
Designs That Work – Create a landscape design that works with your property. The University of Minnesota created the Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series (SULIS) to help people design sustainable landscapes.
- Select plants that are indigenous to your are to minimize care and watering needs.
- Construct a plan that will maximize the use of natural rainfall for irrigation, a process known as xeriscaping. Look at layouts that will reduce run-off and allow the rainwater to infiltrate the ground thorugh raised beds and permeable paving materials.
- For smaller projects, shovels and wheel barrels may suffice. But for larger projects, such as leveling the ground, installing a water feature, or digging a rain garden, you may want to rent a backhoe to complete the job. Creating a sustainable landscape around your house does not have to require buying expensive equipment. Take the more affordable route and rent the equipment you'll need for your landscaping project.
Materials – The same Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle philosophy that many use in their homes works in the yard, as well. Reduce the number of structures used. Reuse materials from other projects. Recycle pallets, fencing, tires, stone, and other products as much as possible. Houzz offers almost 5,000 ideas for using recycled materials in your yard. StopWaste.org also shares ideas of how to find and use salvaged materials in landscapes. Using sustainably harvested wood, recycled rubber, and plastic lumber are all great ways to create pathways, stepping stones, and mulch for your sustainable landscapes.
Olive's love of gardening started with a Chia Pet she received for her birthday when she was eight.