For many people, landscaping is a form of personal and artistic expression. It’s also a desire to improve the quality of life for the entire community. Lush beautiful gardens are a delight to those taking neighborhood strolls, and more than one life-long friendship has begun with appreciation of natural beauty freely shared and the exchange of gardening secrets. Landscaping is also a great way to incorporate more of the beauty of nature into urban environments.
A combination of events such as increasing energy and water costs and global warming have caused homeowners to consider the far-reaching benefits of eco-friendly landscaping. To make your landscaping more eco-friendly, there are a number of things you can do. Eco-friendly landscaping doesn’t just reduce global warming and the cost of yard maintenance, though. It usually reduces the amount of work required for upkeep, which leaves more time for enjoying your yard.
Replacing Traditional Lawns
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “…maintenance over a 20-year span for a non-native turf grass landscape can cost almost seven times more than the cumulative costs of maintenance for a native prairie or wetland.” The high cost of maintaining a traditional lawn isn’t just economic, though. Research shows that lawn maintenance produces greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
The fertilizer and pesticides commonly used are also a source of potential pollution of groundwater. As public awareness of the negative environmental impact of traditional lawn maintenance has increased, many states have begun providing information for their residents on how they can make their own home environments as healthy as they are welcoming.
For those who love greenery and the look of a lawn, one alternative is planting clover. Clover contains natural insect repellents and competes well against weeds, reducing the need for pesticides.
One way to reduce water costs and honor the particular environment you’ve chosen as your home is by using plants that are native to your area. Native plants require less maintenance and they have developed a natural resistance to common pests and diseases, reducing the need to use pesticides. An additional benefit is that they attract beneficial insects and local wildlife.
Xeriscaping is a set of seven design principles introduced in Colorado to help people utilize native plants to help conserve water. Some critics claim that these principles limit their choices too much. However, if plants native to your area don’t provide enough variety, there are many disease-resistant plants available that provide beauty as well as variety.
Growing concerns about the health effects of genetically modified foods is another reason many people are choosing to replace at least part of their lawns with low-maintenance garden plots that produce fresh organic fruits and vegetables. According to experts, drip irrigation systems deliver water directly to your plants with 90 percent efficiency, compared to the 50 to 70 percent efficiency of traditional sprinkler systems.
This new trend has led many communities to begin gardening cooperatives in which each member grows one or two items, and everyone comes together to trade items after the harvest. One advantage is that everyone is able to enjoy a wide variety of fresh vegetables without the difficult task of creating multiple soil conditions and planting and watering schedules for different plants. Fruit trees provide shade in addition to fresh fruit, and also raise real estate values. Deciduous trees that drop their leaves in the fall can help cool your home in the summer and provide compost for flower beds. Trees typically don’t require much maintenance so there’s really no reason you should skip on planting some in your garden!
Unlike chemical pesticides, natural pesticides won’t seep into the ground water causing contamination of drinking water. One natural pesticide, made from the pyrethrum plant (Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium) is rated highly effective against a large number of insects.
Another natural pesticide can be made by soaking ground onions or garlic in warm water overnight. After straining, the liquid is sprayed on flowers and fruit trees. This natural insecticide is especially effective against aphids and apple borers.
These examples of eco-friendly landscaping prove that we can help preserve the earth without sacrificing beauty or variety.
- Guide to low-maintenance gardening – Sunset
- Xeriscape Landscaping – Landscaping Network
- 5 commonly asked questions about tree maintenance – Brisbane Tree Experts
- Keep off the grass: Research confirms that highly manicured lawns produce more greenhouse gases than they soak up – Independent