Our planet needs all the help it can get. In the face of climate change, mass pollution, habitat destruction, and a growing human population, our environment has never been threatened like this before. While no single yard can reverse all these environmental threats, a Colorado landscape that practices sustainability can make a positive impact on your local environment. You can also inspire your neighbors to practice sustainability in their own yards. After all, we all could benefit from sustainable backyard landscaping.
But what exactly is sustainability and how does this apply to landscape design? And is it even to implement these practices? Here, we’re taking a closer look at sustainable landscaping and why everyone needs to make this practice a core part of their overall landscape design. Your backyard landscape can be both beautiful and sustainable with a few tips and strategies.
Most of us have heard this term thrown around, but do you actually know what sustainability means? Let’s go to one of the top authorities on the matter. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), sustainability is rooted in one core concept: “everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment.”
In our world today, it’s become easier to overlook our connection to the natural environment. It’s not always obvious when you’re working or learning inside a constructed space and using digital tools to learn, create, and interact. But everything we have, in one way or another, came from the natural environment. Without our planet and everything it provides us, our lives simply enough would not be possible.
Sustainability as a practice encourages individuals to recognize this crucial relationship between ourselves and our environment. Protecting and conserving our natural resources, such as water and trees, is essential for sustainability. We are all intimately linked together by our environment. For all forms of life to thrive, we need to find a balance that gives plants, animals, and insects the necessary space and resources to grow.
Now that we know more about sustainability as a concept, how does this apply to backyard landscaping? Sustainable landscaping refers to the practice of applying sustainable strategies and ideas into your landscape design. Many people mistakenly assume that this means you simply have to leave your landscape untouched and natural.
But this isn’t true. By adhering to sustainability guidelines, you can not only craft a beautiful landscape but also makes a more positive impact on the surrounding landscape. There doesn’t need to be a trade-off between sustainability and that beautiful landscape you’ve always wanted.
Sustainable landscaping sounds great, but what does it actually look like in practice? Many homeowners and property managers are shocked to learn how simple some of these sustainability practices really can be.
Here are some tips to help you get started with your own sustainable landscape:
Go native: use native plants, trees, and flowers as much as you can. Not only will these plants require far less maintenance and resources, but they also have a better chance to survive and thrive as part of your landscape. After all, these plants have evolved for countless years to survive in your unique microclimate.
Grow what you eat: Planting local crops that your family can enjoy not only provides the pleasure of growing your own food but you’ll be surprised at how much better fresh fruits and vegetables from your own sustainable garden can taste! Even if you don’t want to plant a full veggie garden, some native vegetables – such as rhubarb – can look lovely in a garden and be cut to create some delicious pies!
Conserve water: nothing is more important for life on this planet than water. Many areas across the country continue to suffer from seasonal droughts, which makes water conservation essential. To conserve water, choose native plants, water in the early morning or afternoon, add mulch, or even build a rain garden.
Prevent erosion: following a storm, heavy rainfall or snow can wreak havoc on your landscape. Erosion can flush the soil and any chemicals you use into the gutters where it reaches your water supply. A smart landscape design, one that incorporates porous elements, can prove extremely beneficial.
Use chemicals and fertilizers sparingly: always try to reduce the amount of chemicals and excess fertilizers you’re using in your yard. Planting native species can help you cut down on this need and can even save you money. Back to our erosion point, following a storm, these excess chemicals will be flushed from your yard and can enter the nearby water table. They never just go away.
Now more than ever, we should all utilize sustainable practices when designing or working on our backyard landscapes. Designing one yard with sustainable practices may not seem like much—especially in the face of global threats like climate change—but every small step truly does make a difference.
If you begin using sustainable practices (and the benefits begin to show) chances are your neighbors and local community will take interest. After all, who wouldn’t want a backyard landscape that is beautiful, integrates with the surrounding environment and even costs less to maintain?
Sustainability is truly for everyone. It may not seem like much, but making your landscape design more sustainable will conserve precious resources, create habitats for local flora and fauna, and create a healthier environment for your family.
It’s a fallacy to believe that a landscape can’t be both sustainable and eye-catching. In many ways, a sustainable landscape can be even more attractive for your yard and your entire outdoor space. Sustainability can improve your landscape design by cutting back on the chemicals you use, preserving natural resources, and creating more hospitable spaces for local animals, birds, and insects. Sustainability saves you time and money by working with the natural environment—not against it.
When designing or working on your backyard landscape, keep some of the core principles of sustainability in mind. Use native plants and trees, preserve natural resources, consider xeriscaping, and be conscious of the chemicals and fertilizers you’re using. Of course, a sustainable landscape design doesn’t mean you’re not impacting your outdoor space, leaving this area virtually untouched. Instead, sustainable landscaping highlights methods and practices to minimize the damage done to your local environment and encourage a stronger connection to the world around you.