Sustainability can wear a lot of different hats. It could be a product that uses eco-friendly packaging, a business that develops a recycling program, or a home that uses energy-efficient plumbing systems to conserve water.
But have you heard of sustainability in the context of landscape design? We’ll explain below.
An Introduction to Sustainable Landscape Design
Sustainable landscape design refers to strategic design methods that aim to offset negative effects on the environment. This stretches from the types of materials that are used to build hardscapes, to the types of plants that are added to the landscape, to the lighting installed.
Here are some concrete examples that showcase sustainable landscape design in practice.
Let’s first consider this from a patio perspective. If a patio is made of concrete, rainwater tends to hit the surface and runoff into storm drains. This can overwhelm the storm drains and pollute public water with debris and toxic pollutants. In contrast, permeable pavers provide a more sustainable solution. Rainwater can flow through the joints in a patio made of permeable pavers, with a gravel base to filter out pollutants before water is funneled back into the ground.
From a plant perspective, sustainable landscape design favors native plants — ones that naturally grow in your region. (For Northeast Ohio residents, this list includes culver’s root, marsh marigolds and wild geraniums, to name a few.) Because these plants are already adapted to your climate, they require less water and artificial pesticides than their non-native counterparts. These plants also provide food and shelter for wildlife that resides in the region.
LED lighting systems are known to consume considerably less energy than fluorescent light sources. While this saves monthly costs for homeowners who light up their driveway and walkways (often for several hours at a time), it also translates into a reduced carbon footprint. Aside from decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, LED landscape lights also eliminate the use of toxic chemicals that can be found in conventional light sources.
A little can go a long way in sustainable landscape design. As you plan updates to your landscape in the new year, we encourage you to keep the above ideas in mind.