In today’s day and age, sustainability is not just a popular movement, it’s a way of life. As climate change becomes a growing concern for many people, the importance of living resourcefully has extended to the way that buildings are designed and constructed, and even landscaping.
Sustainable landscaping is a creative and strategic type of landscaping that depends on the natural environment and flora, so as to work with nature. Sustainable landscaping has become popular not only because it’s better for the environment, but also because of the little to no maintenance it requires to maintain beautiful quality.
The scale of man vs. nature has historically always been difficult to balance for mankind. However, with the right information and the right guidance, maintaining a balanced relationship with nature doesn’t seem that difficult. It might even seem exciting. That’s why, as West Michigan’s LEED-certified commercial landscaping company, we wanted to make sure you have the information you need to start building green.
What is Sustainable Landscaping?
Everything that we do has an impact on our environment. You may have heard the term “sustainable living” before, which is the umbrella term for human behaviors that minimize our (over)use of unsustainable resources (like fossil fuels, land, drinkable water).
Through innovative design, building, and maintenance, sustainable landscaping is aimed toward conservation and ecological living that positions mother nature to do most of the heavy lifting. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we get rid of practices such as fertilizers and irrigation systems, rather we find a way to do it better. And who can complain about striving to do better?
Why is Sustainable Landscaping Important?
Sustainable landscaping is an attempt to embrace the natural beauty of your geographical area and has a low impact on your environment. It also comes with one huge benefit for businesses: less money spent. With sustainable landscaping, very little or no extra time, resources, or maintenance costs are needed to upkeep your property’s landscape. It also means your bills are less expensive, and you’ve reduced your business’s carbon footprint all at the same time.
If your company is interested in being LEED certified, then sustainable landscaping is a really great way to contribute to your LEED goals.
Reducing your carbon footprint is essential, not just for you, but for the world. Climate change is already having a negative impact on our weather patterns, wildlife lifecycles, and our everyday lives. Of course, there are other things your business can do to be more sustainable like reducing, reusing, and recycling. But the best way to tackle environmental change (and money saved) is by being environmentally friendly from the start.
Here are some ways that sustainable landscaping can benefit your business and environment:
Less Routine Maintenance
Whether you DIY or you hire a professional landscaping company like Procare, make sure to be informed of what type of plants, insects, and animals are native to your natural environment. Don’t forget to consider the local soil types, rainfall patterns, and seasonal changes. By putting in the work beforehand, you can make sure that you spend less money, time, and resources, and have more availability to do what you want to with the renewed freedom in your budget and time.
Reduces Water Usage
If you’re in a drier environment, you should consider the landscaping technique, Xeriscaping. Xeriscaping is a method of landscaping or gardening that utilizes smart gardening techniques to reduce the amount of water needed to upkeep the plants. By grouping together plants that have similar water requirements, and by strategically choosing the location of each plant, you can create a natural irrigation system.
Wasteful water irrigation currently accounts for ⅓ of the United States residential water use. Climate change makes the limited water availability we do have less predictable in many parts of the world, and as droughts become more common and flooding destroys and contaminates water sources, the world’s water scarcity problem will only get worse.
But by making environmentally conscious decisions like xeriscaping, you can make a huge difference even if it doesn’t seem like you are, it all adds up!
Less Fertilizer, Soil, & Pesticides
Most commercial fertilizers are detrimental to the environment. They rely on harmful chemicals and pesticides that damage other life in their surrounding ecosystem, and when the rain falls and seeps down into our drinking water supply, it brings the chemicals with it (yum). It also requires time, energy, and resources to transport the soil from point A to B.
Instead, try using locally sourced materials such as recycled leaves and leftover fertilizer from friends or markets. Make sure to check how packed your soil is. If the soil is overpacked, it will cut off the air supply to the roots of your plants resulting in stunt growth and/or water runoff. Instead of using pesticides, you can choose plants that have a natural resilience to the pests, and don’t negatively affect the other plants around it.
Saves Money & Energy
Believe it or not, by having trees and plants in strategic locations, you can save on heating and cooling costs, AND water bills. The plants can provide shade, and act as windbreakers. As has been noted, you can also save a lot of money down the road due to less money spent on maintenance and resources.
Now that you’re convinced that sustainable landscaping can save your business money and help save the world, keep reading below for 5 steps you should take to get your landscape design started.
5 Steps To Designing Your Landscape
Choose Native Plants & Trees
As stated earlier, whether you choose to DIY or hire a professional landscaping company, it’s important that before you do anything, you understand what plants are native to your area. You can figure out what plants thrive most in your area with the littlest amount of resources and maintenance needed, and then you can begin to create a design with these in mind. Things to consider when selecting your plants are…
- Does it need active watering?
- How much sunlight does it require?
- Will I need to re-soil the plant seasonally?
- Does it need pesticide control? (if yes, use sparingly and at the correct time of year)
Use Recycled Materials
Get creative with the resources you use to plant the plants and/or design the landscape. For example, you can repaint and reuse old pots and cans. Other materials you can use are metal, plastics, lumber, stones, bricks, and whatever else you can find that’s already laying around. You can even check your local recycling and places of the like for materials they can give away. Not only will you be giving materials a new purpose, but the planet and your wallet will thank you.
Other than xeriscaping and using native plants, there are other ways to conserve water. Using compost or mulch retains water moisture, preventing the roots from drying out. You can also collect rainwater and store it underground. Setting up systems for irrigation and gray water capture is relatively inexpensive, and they reuse the water that’s already there, rather than sourcing new water. If you choose to add in a sprinkler system, it’s recommended that you sprinkle less often, but for longer periods of time so that the water can soak deep into the ground. Regular sprinkling habits often result in up to ⅓ of the water evaporating before even reaching the plant root. That adds up to be A LOT of wasted water.
If you want to take your landscape design to the next level, consider adding in solar-powered lights and systems. Although the outright cost for solar power can be a deterrent for some people, it ultimately saves you a considerable amount of money on your electricity bills compared to using regular electricity.
Don’t forget to consider all of the wonderful animals that come along with each plant. Does the plant attract pollinators? Does it attract beetles? Birds? Ground squirrels? Every plant has its own set of wildlife that depends on it for survival, this unfortunately also includes pests and other annoyances. Make sure you consider the effect of the wildlife on all of the plants since your sustainable landscape needs to be self-sufficient in order for it to be successful.
Sustainable landscape design will not only save your business extreme amounts of money and energy, but it will also show your customers that you support an eco-friendly way of life. It’s never a bad thing to make a good impression on your customers, especially if it can influence people to work with your company.
We know that landscape design can be a lot of work. If you want to transform your property, but you don’t have the time or the eye to do it yourself, thankfully there are commercial landscaping companies that specialize in designing and building sustainable landscapes that can take the stress off your shoulders.
Set an example to the companies around you, and start paving the way to a brighter and more sustainable future—the next generation is counting on it. Bookmark this post for later so that you can reference it before you begin your sustainable landscaping journey.