Fixing up the inside of a home and cleaning up the yard is challenging in itself. Overhauling a yard can get expensive and time consuming. But while you spruce up outdoors, look at ways you can blend resourceful designs into your home’s curb appeal.
With growing demands for green building and sustainable landscaping, more homeowners want natural luxury outside their front door—without the extra maintenance. Sustainable landscaping is practical since it integrates plants and materials, which are in balance with the local climate.
Every yard is unique. You can incorporate just a few well-placed plants to save water. Or for a really self-sustaining garden, have a lawn like a meadow with every variety of herb, flower, grass, vegetable and fruit.
With careful planning, sustainable design:
- Adds distinctive visual beauty—from formal to informal design.
- Is low maintenance and cost effective long term.
- Is easy to implement.
- Requires minimal inputs and resources—less water, fertilizer or pesticides.
- Reduces your home’s energy consumption.
- Is environmentally sound—reducing carbon, chemicals and toxins.
Plan with Maintenance in Mind
Walk around your property to identify areas you want to accentuate for beauty and functionality. Whether you want to add an herb garden, a work area or patio, work with the slopes and boundaries of your yard. By designing with the natural patterns in the landscape, you make the most of space and maximize drainage for growing the best plants.
If possible, work with existing pathways as part of the outline for your yard. For interest and safety, modify pathways or make new ones that follow higher grades and natural curves in the land.
Consider sun and shade patterns, wind patterns and soil conditions throughout the yard. Different plants will do better in varying conditions or microclimates within your yard.
A landscape designer or contractor can help you choose the best plants for a sustainable landscape.
Grow Beauty and Function with Sustainable Vegetation
Sustainable landscapes grow a full spectrum of plants fitted for any style—from informal cottage to formal Chinese and everything in between.
Add sturdy lushness to your yard with native plants, which adapt easily to local climates and need less water. Self-seeding grasses and plants are ideal for sustainable landscapes—simply gather seedpods to crush and spread seeds where you want them to grow. Plants will flourish naturally. To minimize water requirements, keep plants with similar needs together in the same areas.
Fruit and nut-bearing trees, herbs, vegetables and edible flowers can be combined in any aesthetic variation, while providing food for you and local wildlife.
Deciduous trees, like maple, oak and elm, give shade in summer and allow sun in winter. Planted near the house, they provide comfort, while cutting down on energy bills. Turn a section of your yard into a cool summer woodland to further reduce air conditioning bills. Trees and hedges also form windbreaks, helping to cut your home’s fuel consumption by 1/3 and more.
Vines and bamboo gardens create privacy and shade around patios.
Use Eco-friendly Materials
A sustainable landscape relies more on vegetation, than hardscape materials, for forming boundaries like walls and fences. For walkways and driveways, be resourceful by using porous materials such as mulch, gravel or crushed stone, which are abundant and allow drainage. Try to use local and salvaged materials like used bricks or concrete.
Work with Nature
Attractive landscaping of any kind grows out of functional design planning. Whether you hire a landscape expert or do-it-yourself, work with the existing natural environment to develop a sustainable yard fitted to your lifestyle. No matter what you design—from an herb and vegetable garden to a meandering walkway or a meadow-like grass to a self-seeded lawn—shape areas and borders with vegetation suited to the climate and location. By working with the land you can create a self-sustaining yard over time tailored for your lifestyle. Instead of watering and fertilizing, you can spend more time enjoying the natural beauty, which is an extension of your home.