Designing a Lush and Lovely Sustainable Landscape
Sleek, elegant, and virtually effortless, green, or sustainable landscaping is the newest trend in landscape design, appealing to eco-friendly and low-maintenance gardeners. Beyond the inherent beauty of this style are the benefits that accrue, with the environmental impact being foremost among these. Case in point, sustainable gardening leaves a smaller footprint, using native and local products while eschewing chemicals that would otherwise pollute the air, water, and soil. These fresher, cleaner aspects of green gardening prove most alluring when you desire a beautifully designed landscape that offers relaxation and recreation in a healthy milieu.
Water conservation sweetens the appeal with the considerable time, money, and effort it saves, making it no wonder that many people are now enjoying all that sustainable landscapes offer. So, with all this in mind, here are seven essentials of a lush and lovely sustainable landscape.
Unknown to many homeowners, keeping lawns in that enviable grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side state requires quantities of water more vast than any other aspect of the landscape. Once aware, many people consider it a waste of precious resources in times of drought and an unnecessary indulgence at other times. If this describes you, the solution is to decrease your lawn's size but not its beauty. Retaining only small areas of grass strategically placed throughout your landscape produces a marvelously sustainable and fabulously creative landscape design.
As a design component, small areas of grass not only provide more space for plants and other decorative garden elements but also offer designated spots for the following:
- Benches, hammocks, and tables for outdoor entertaining
- Sports areas for games such as volleyball and Frisbee
- Play equipment for young children such as swings, slides, and monkey bars
- Hardscape items that add vertical interest to your landscape, including gazebos, trellises, and arbors
- Room for children to play without potential injury from hard surfaces
While you may not have needed all these grassy areas, having small lawn areas provides you with options while creating sustainability. Moreover, using a rain barrel to collect rain that can later be used to water your landscape makes those small grass areas even greener.
Wildflowers and indigenous trees are a sustainable landscaper's dream, forming the heart of a green landscape. These are the ones to choose for green gardening as they are already fully adapted to your climate, requiring little to no nurturance. Rather than selecting non-native plants, needing constant care in water, fertilizers, and protection from the elements, native plants require virtually no effort. These plants thrive in even the most adverse conditions and are easy to sustain regardless of the caprices of weather, growing profusely and returning perennially.
Genuinely a simple matter of planting and forgetting them, native flowers and plants need only be watered until they are established. With the taller plants placed in the back of a straight border and the center of a circular area for the most striking composition, these trees and flowers are assets to any landscape and become the gracious stalwarts of a sustainable garden, providing seasonal beauty for years.
The consummate form of sustainable landscaping, xeriscaping, relies solely on drought-tolerant plants partnered with stones, gravel, and other hardscaping for a gloriously green effect. Although succulents such as cactus, sedum, Kalanchoe, and Echeveria, among many others, are often the foundation of a xeriscape, other plants for which regular watering is unnecessary excellent additions to xeriscaping. Among those that you may want to install in your landscape are these drought-tolerant plants:
- The soft, grayish-green leaves of the very fragrant Artemisia
- The silvery foliage and lavender plumes of Russian sage
- The blue-gray blades of a Mediterranean grass called Helictotrichon sempervirens
Not at all an exhaustive list; these plants interplay well with traditional succulents and the stones and gravel intrinsic to sustainable landscaping. Just be sure to consult an expert to ensure that you avoid invasive plants or any that are not natural to your locale.
Stones and Gravel
Devising walkways, garden paths, driveways, and patios of stone or gravel, which are permeable hardscapes, allows water to seep into the soil instead of creating runoff into lakes, rivers, and other waterways, supporting your environmentally friendly goals. Equally gratifying, these materials form spectacular landscape features, infusing your garden with the intriguing textures of smooth and coarse stones and their diverse hues, which take on added radiance when wet. Displaying as much artistry as plants and flowers, surfaces composed of stone or gravel imbue your sustainable landscape with style and sophistication.
In much the same manner as stones and gravel, the structural varieties of hardscaping enrich your landscape with their form. Pergolas, arbors, and trellises, for instance, offer delightful verticality and support hardy vines, providing shady respite in the garden without the water requirements of large shade trees. Likewise, a gazebo, particularly one devised of reclaimed wood, is green in its construction and provision of an excellent landscape spot, not necessitating the use of energy for cooling. Carefully chosen, vertical hardscaping injects sustainability and a touch of glamour into your