Everyone wants to do good for the environment. After all, we have to live in it. But did you know that you can do a lot to help the environment right in your own yard? Sustainable landscaping helps the environment, and even more, it helps save the home owner money. That sounds like a win win to me.
Use Native Plants
I am not sure why or when we started the practice of trying to grow non-native plants in our yards, but that is something that should stop immediately. The benefits of using native plants are so numerous, that it is mind boggling that anyone would want to use anything else. If you are serious about sustainable landscaping, then start with native plants.
For starters, native plants are already accustom to the conditions of where you are. They are used to the rainfall amounts, temperature variations, soil conditions, and local animal and bug populations. What this means for you is that you will need to use less water, fertilizer, and pesticides to keep your plants healthy. You also will not need to worry about it being too hot in the summer, or too cold in the winter.
You can also use native plants and grasses to create vegetated filter strips. Making these strips alongside roadways, sidewalks, driveways and rivers or streams will help to filter out pollutants trapped in storm runoff before it gets into your other plants, rivers, streams, or the ground water.
Don’t Fight The Rain
When designing sustainable landscaping, average rainfall must be a part of the planning process. A well designed yard will use landscaping feature to direct storm runoff away from the home and into rain gardens or grassy swales. These are places designed for rainwater to collect and soak into the ground. You can put plants that are particularly thirsty in these areas, and keep pants that don’t need as much water in the places you are diverting the rain water away from.
Modern advancements in building materials have brought us some great permeable pavement options. With these you can create driveways, patios and walkways that allow the rainwater to soak through them and into the ground. This will also eliminate a lot of stormwater runoff that could eventually make its way into your structure and cause water damage.
Remember to Use Mulch
Organic mulch is a great tool when considering sustainable landscaping. Fragrant mulches (like cedar bark) have natural oils in them that act as insect repellents. (as a general rule, the more fragrant the mulch, the better it works as an insect repellent). Creating a mulch pathway around the perimeter of a building can help keep bugs away.
Mulch also helps retain soils moisture levels by slowing evaporation, and organic mulch absorbs water from rainfall to help give soil even more moisture. Organic mulch also helps stop soil erosion, as well as keeping nutrients in your soil from being washed away in the rain. As the organic mulch slowly decays, it will also add nutrients to the soil. And on top off all that, mulch helps prevent weeds!