Have you ever heard the old saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder?” When it comes to creating beauty within your landscape, what is beautiful to the naked eye can also be planned in such a way that is beautiful for our environment. The importance of creating environmentally sustaining landscapes in our own backyards can contribute to sustainability on a global level. A little extra effort, and thinking beyond the here and now when planning your softscape design is doing our part to support our environment.
According to the EPA “traditional landscaping and current landscape maintenance practices, while frequently meeting human needs and aesthetics, often have harmful impacts. The clearing of native woodlands and other natural habitats for urban/suburban growth and subsequent planting of grounds with vast lawns and manicured arrangements of exotic ornamental plants place a heavy toll on environmental and human health. This type of landscape requires extensive use of mechanical equipment, unnecessary consumption of our limited natural resources (water and fossil fuels), frequent application of fertilizers and pesticides, and the generation of significant quantities of solid waste. As a result, our surface and ground waters are being polluted; destructive flooding is more commonplace; our neighborhood’s tranquility and air quality are compromised by noisy, polluting landscape equipment; and our landfills are being consumed by yard waste. Furthermore, the biodiversity of our ecosystems is suffering from the introduction of invasive exotic landscape plants.”
One of the biggest problems in an urban environment is water runoff. Keep in mind that a lawn, or garden, has less than 10% the water absorption capacity of natural woodland. This is a main reason for suburban flooding. In addition, it is not just water that is “running off” into storm drains either. Yard wastes including grass clippings, and even landscaping materials such as mulch comprise 20% of municipal solid waste collected and most still ends up in landfills.
Keep in mind, from a global perspective, we cannot forever continue to abuse our surroundings and still expect a healthy, attractive community or planet for future generations to enjoy! In order for success we must learn to balance our needs with those of the environment. Beneficial landscaping attempts to do just that. And, in addition to protecting and conserving our natural resources, this method of landscaping can save considerable time and money for homeowners with reduced maintenance requirements. Archadeck of Columbus embraces the use of environmental guidelines for responsible landscaping in all of our softscape designs and installations. We also encourage the homeowner to continue “green” practices when maintaining and using their softscape.
Below is a list of tips and ideas that will help reduce the global impact your landscape has on the environment:
- Learn about your site or yard – Knowing about your yard’s resources and problems is key to making good decisions about your plants, soil, water, and wildlife.
Choose the right plant for the right spot – If a plant is in a location where it must struggle to survive, chances are the homeowner will respond with additional water, fertilizers, or pesticides to improve the situation. A properly acclimated plant will require less maintenance and pruning and avoid the cost and waste of replacing it.
- Select regionally native plants -To form the backbone of the landscape. Select appropriate plants for each particular site (each plant has its unique requirements and most sites have a variety of conditions). While there isn’t usually a problem with occasional use of exotic plants, native plants have evolved to local conditions over millions of years and they form an integral part in the life cycles of the local wildlife. They also give an area its unique sense of place.
- Use plantings to reduce heating/cooling needs – Deciduous trees planted appropriately along the south sides of buildings can reduce air conditioning costs by up to 20%. In winter they allow the sun’s rays to warm buildings. Coniferous trees planted to block prevailing NW winter winds can reduce heating costs.
- Avoid choosing invasive exotics – These out compete native plants and result in declines in biodiversity. Examples include: Norway maples, kudzu, purple loosestrife, Japanese honeysuckle and multiflora rose. Here’s a great rule of thumb. If it’s going to take over, then steer clear from planting in within your landscape!
Build healthy soil and use fertilizer responsibly – Healthy and fertile soil is necessary for good plant growth, supports microorganisms, and results in plants that are more resistant to disease and pests.
- Reduce waste and recycle nutrients – Reducing yard waste that otherwise could be sent to a landﬁll reduces the need to create more or larger landﬁll operations. Recycling nutrients through composting and recycling grass clippings reduces the need for fertilizers or other soil supplements.
- Practice soil and water conservation – Stabilize slopes with natural plantings, mulch around plants, and install drought- tolerant species. Even hardscaped areas can be planned and built in such as way as to promote water-run off. Using pavers that water can soak through, such as Unilock and Belgard’s permeable pavers allow you to recharge groundwater on site. This means you don’t have to create extra ditches, and/or piping to move the water away into storm drains. Permeable pavers can also aid in helping landscapes with existing drainage issues too!
Many of these helpful hints come from The Lawns and the Environment Initiative as outlined by the Center for Resource Management and from the EPA outline for Greener communities through beneficial landscaping.
Archadeck of Columbus realizes that knowledgeable and thoughtful plant selection, soil criteria and averting water runoff are key factors in creating an environmentally friendly softscape. We can help you plan and design the outdoor oasis you have always imagined with a keen eye on how your little slice of heaven can impact the world as a whole — we firmly believe a greener tomorrow begins in your own backyard! (740) 879 – 3730
Please visit our extensive hardscape photo gallery on our website, including our patios and covered patio photo galleries, for more backyard ideas!