Sustainable Landscape Design – Adding sustainable landscape design to your home is a great way to add curb appeal and increase your own use and enjoyment of your yard space. A major myth of xeriscaping or sustainable gardening is that local plants are dull and plain, but there are many vibrantly colored native plants and flowers that fit into the sustainable and natural category. Most major plant supply stores and big chains will have a local section, making it easy to select plants that you know will do well in your front or back yard, and any landscape designer will create a custom garden of beautiful local foliage that work well together. Plus, by replacing some of that unnatural lawn with native plants you won’t have to deal with the unsightly brown grass that’s indicative of winter dormancy, which encourages additional curb appeal all year round.
A properly planned zeriscape can even help you sell the home when future buyers notice how much they could be saving on their water bill when compared to other homes in the area.
Whether you’re looking into sustainable landscape design for Planet Earth, a curiosity in atypical landscapes or because your water bill is just too high (hello everyone), or want something besides the plot of grass and a flower box for your front yard, xeriscaping has a host of benefits for both you and your family and the environment. First, drought resistant plants by nature do not need much water. In fact, over watering them can kill them, so if you’re ever in doubt just don’t water the yard.
By using local plants in your landscape design you can let Mother Nature do the work and turn off your sprinkler system completely, giving supplemental water with a hose or watering can on occasion. A household can see the water bill decrease by hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars over the course of a year by decreasing landscape watering, which will be much more noticeable in the hot summer months when nonnative plants need extra water and water rates are increased.
Sustainable garden at the Agricultural Farm Historic Park in Derwood
How to start a sustainable landscaping?
You might have made the decision to trend your yard towards more native, water wise plants for any number of reasons, but getting started with xeriscaping can be a big step, especially if your home is traditionally landscaped. Rather than tear everything out and start over from scratch, you can make water wise and drought resistant plant choices one by one as you need to replace sections. For example, wait until the winter when your grass is dormant to remove sections of grass to keep the rest of it alive and replace thirsty plants with water wise plants as they die. Use pretty river rocks as ground cover in between plants for a more sophisticated look, and keep flowering desert plants in pots for a more sustainable version of your regular flower box.
You don’t have to completely remove all grass, nonnative flowers and water dependent plants from your yard to have a sustainable garden. If you choose to keep nonnative plants, or plants that aren’t drought resistant, use mulch or some sort of ground cover to encourage water conservation. Mulch also prevents weeds and controls overgrowth for a more visually appealing garden and can be used across a wide range of plant types. Talking with a landscape designer might be a good first step, as landscape design is as much about which species complement each other in terms of water use as much as it is about which plants are drought resistant or flowering. With a little knowledge and time any home can have a beautiful and water efficient landscape design.