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What is Sustainable Landscaping and Why it Matters

eco landscaping

The drawbacks of traditional landscaping are evident everywhere these days.  They include air (lawnmowers, transportation) and water (fertilizers and pesticides) pollution, harm to biodiversity, consumption of natural resources like water, impacts to public health and safety and just down right cost and labor intensive.  So more and more folks are discovering the joys of sustainable landscaping.

Many seek that wonderfully sharp and fully natural look for the yard but what really is sustainable landscaping and what can it do for us?  Sustainable or “green” landscaping is essentially landscaping that considers things like water conservation, the use of all natural resources and the selection of proper plants to beautify a piece of land while still making it work with the surrounding ecosystem.

In the beginning this may sound a tad complex but rest assured – it’s not.  There are countless things that we can try at home on your own.  Keep in mind these two words – Conserve, Design and ProtectConserve means conserving resources like water and using a composting bin to recycle natural yard waste into organic fertilizer.  Protect means preventing or reducing processes that degrade or pollute the environment and harm regenerative capacity of our ecosystems.  Design means designing your landscaping in harmony with the natural environment, and in a way that it enhances the sustainability features of your home.

For instance, if you are planning on redoing the landscaping in your yard, consider the placement of deciduous and evergreen trees.  We’re in California; there are plenty of them out here in the nature already.  If you plant deciduous on the south and east sides of your home, you’ll be able to get shade during the summer while still keeping the sun’s heat and warmth during the winter, because the leaves will not block the sun light.  Evergreens that have been planted in the north and the west are particularly wonderful for protecting your home from harsh winds during those colder Bay Area months.

It’s always a great idea to consider the use of recycled materials for our green landscaping project. You’ll find that soil amendments and mulch fall under this category.  With wood becoming more and more expensive and increasingly depleted, we may want to consider making sure we can recycle plastic bender board.  Similarly, we can recycle broken up concrete into great flagstones, and recycled brick for paths and patios.  With a bit imagination the options to recycle are limitless.

running waterOne of the most essential components to sustainable landscaping is of course the water irrigation concerns.  Did you know that most people over-water their lawns by 50%?  Imagine the water savings if they all just adjusted their sprinkler systems.  My next door neighbor’s sprinklers are on day and night, spraying all over including our shared fence which is beginning to rot already.  Our cats love watching it though, for them this is pure entertainment.

When deciding what to put in a garden, it’s beneficial to think about how the water will flow and how we can best take advantage of the water that is around. Consider drip-irrigation and the use of drought resistant plants, which can assure that your deep watering needs are kept to a minimum.  Looking for a place to buy some eco friendly plants?  Check out the Santa Clara County web page for more info and nursery locations.  One of the best resources you will find online is the Master Gardeners of Santa Clara website.  It’s jam packed with all sorts of magic tips, wonderful advice, and local events for gardening and sustainable landscaping enthusiasts.

Sustainable landscaping is truly our way of saying thank you to that earth and soil that have fed so many generations before us.  We simply must return the favor and protect our eco system as much as we can.  It really is not so complicated as some may think.  We have many options.  The best are the ones that are not only easy on the eye but also protect that little patch of the earth in your backyard.  Happy landscaping.

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