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Sustainability. It’s more than a buzzword

The search for sustainability is creeping into all corners of our lives, not the least of which is our landscaping. That’s because living plants lend themselves to sustainability better than inanimate environments.

The Cambridge dictionary defines sustainability as the ability to continue at a particular level for a period of time. Applied to landscapes, sustainability is the ability of an environment to remain diverse and productive indefinitely.

Creating a sustainable landscape begins with you deciding to work with Mother Nature rather than trying to have your own way. She always wins out in the end.

Ground cover is a good, sustainable alternative to turfgrass.

Start your cooperative venture by selecting the right plants for the right places. If the plants are happy with their locations, they’ll grow with minimum maintenance.

Nursery tags on plants communicate their site requirements. Also do some research and avoid those prone to insects and diseases. Often, that means selecting native plants or introduced plants that have adapted well to our area. These plants have also adapted to the water that nature provides, except in times of extreme weather conditions, such as drought.

Turfgrass is, arguably, the most thirsty plant in any landscape. It requires the most maintenance as well. That’s quite the opposite from sustainable, and it’s why an increasing number of people nationwide are replacing all or part of their lawns with beds of less thirsty plants that require less maintenance. Some western states, where water is scarce, have actually paid residents to replace their lawn with more sustainable plants.

When planting new beds or refurbishing existing beds, install plants closer together. This will cut down on weed growth and reduce the need for pruning and the need to constantly replenish mulch. Remember, though, that plants grow so be careful not to plant them too close together.

Be cognizant of companion plants when designing your sustainable landscape. Certain plants grow well together while others are mortal enemies. Check with a horticulturist at your garden store when buying plants to be sure they’re compatible.

Finally, don’t forget the hardscape. Sustainability includes recycling or repurposing hardscape items, such as fountains, benches, bistro sets and statuary. They may need a coat of paint and a new home in a different part of the landscape but that’s better than tossing these items into a landfill and buying new.

Sustainability is quite complex. If you want to modify your landscape with no work on your part, one of our professional designers would be happy to create a plan for the sustainable landscape of your dreams. Do it now, during the “off season” and we can then be ready to install it early in the spring so you’ll have the whole season to enjoy it.

One comment on “Sustainability. It’s more than a buzzword

  1. ‘Sustainability’ is a buzz word that just about every landscape company exploits, even though it is contrary to what they need to stay in business. Only a few actually strive for more sustainable techniques and plant material, even though it is not exactly good for business.

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