Sustainability has become the mantra for the new decade. However, everyone seems to have their own definition of sustainability. As with any such thing, there are extremes and most of us fall right in the middle.
Here are some things you can do to make your landscape more sustainable this spring. None of these suggestions is extreme. They are all done easily and will likely be an aesthetic as well as environmental improvement for your landscape. Each will contribute to your property’s sustainability and reduce your maintenance needs.
Plant native plants. As I’ve written before, the strict definition of native plants is next to impossible to apply since we’ve been hybridizing plants and trading seeds with other countries since colonial times. My definition is a plant with its roots in our area that has been planted successfully here for many years. That includes nativars – cultivars
of native plants. (Cultivars are plants bred by horticulturists for specific characteristics) I also use many introduced plants that have been grown here for many years and behave themselves.
Native plants attract pollinators, birds and wildlife. Of course, you may not want to attract wildlife. If you plant their favorite food source, they could leave you with a mess. So, that’s a decision you’ll have to make. Attracting pollinators, however, is important, and takes some planning so you have plants that butterflies and beneficial insects need to survive.
Native plants also save water, even though we seldom have to irrigate here in Western New York. They should also need less fertilizer and little or no pesticides. That statement doesn’t take into consideration exotic pests that come to our shores from other countries.
Reduce your lawn area. This also contributes to sustainability, as well as reducing the time you spend mowing. And when you spend less time mowing, you are using less gas and you spend less time maintaining your lawn. Convert lawn area to planting beds or meadowland, or add a patio or outdoor living area. Less water, fertilizer and pesticide is also good for the environment.
Besides reducing your workload, a meadowland will attract wildlife, support pollinators and clean the air. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), running a gas powered mower for an hour emits as much pollution as taking a 20 mile road trip in your car.
Implementing these tips takes planning, which you can do at your leisure during the winter downtime. If you would rather have a professional touch, one of our landscape designers can help you to any extent you want. They also have time over the winter to help you define sustainability from their perspective.