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Sustainable Landscape Design

If you have never heard the term “Sustainable Landscapes”, this is what it is all about in a nutshell. A sustainable landscape is designed to be environmentally responsible. The landscape design should not only be attractive, but be in balance with nature and require minimal resources to maintain. Part of the “sustainable” concept requires that we pay attention to things such as preventing water, soil, or air pollution, using eco-friendly pest solution practices, and other environmentally responsible practices.

When designing a sustainable landscape, a thorough site analysis is in order. Factors such as existing soil types and orientation to the sun are important. If a dry soil is existing on site, then incorporating drought tolerant plants is the best way to minimize the need for irrigation practices. How the house is oriented to the sun will determine some of the best placements for trees in order to shade the house in the summer months, or help to block the prevailing winds. Plants used as windbreaks can save up to 30% on heating costs in winter.

An unsustainable landscape is one that requires a large amount of input in order to grow a non-native plant on it. Native plants have adapted to local climate conditions and will require less work on the part of some other agent to flourish. Also, by choosing native plants, you can avoid some insect and disease problems. In other words, by choosing native plants, a lot of money can be saved on fertilization, watering and pest control.

More sustainable landscape solutions may incorporate such things as:

  • Reducing stormwater runoff by creating ‘bio-swales’ and ‘rain gardens’
  • Using integrated pest management techniques for pest control.
  • Creating wildlife habitats.
  • Using solar powered landscape lighting.
  • Creating and using a compost system in order to use kitchen and yard waste as a way of fertilizing and enhancing soil vigor.
  • Properly selecting and placing plants that are low-impact on the environment.
  • Using “Permeable paving” materials that reduce stormwater run-off and allow rainwater to filtrate into the ground and replenish groundwater rather than run into surface water.
  • Creating “Buffer Plantings” at the shoreline in order to help reduce water runoff into lakes and streams.

In this day and age, making your home landscape as sustainable as possible is a great idea. Not only are there shoreland and wetland permits that required to help preserve our lakes and streams, we need to be good stewards of the land in all of our practices.

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