It seems that everyone is talking about sustainability these days. it’s a term that you hear more and more frequently but it still seems to be surrounded by a certain degree of mystery, especially as it relates to your landscape. it raises questions like “What is it?”, “Will it save me money?”, “How beneficial will it be?” and, perhaps most importantly, “is it right for my landscape?”
Let’s start with the basics. What is sustainable landscape care? Researchers at colorado state university define it as “the maintenance of an attractive environment that is in balance with the local climate and requires minimal resource inputs.” sounds great! there are, however, a few important factors to consider before jumping in.
Achieving sustainability in your landscape requires careful planning and management of “inputs” such as water, energy, labor and materials. in a perfect world, these inputs are easier to manage when you are able to start with a “clean slate.” For example, being able to start, quite literally, from the ground up by establishing good soil to reduce your water, labor and materials inputs in the long term. However, established landscapes can be made greener and more self-sustaining too with changes like the addition of an area for composting, replacing struggling plants with species better suited to your environment, moving plants to an area of your landscape where they will be able to thrive or encouraging beneficial insects through the use of companion plantings. you might even consider trading lawn space for more field to reduce the inputs required for lawn maintenance.
If your interest is piqued and you’re ready to jump in, a good starting point might be to measure your current inputs and look for areas where you can reduce them. keep in mind that whether you go “all in” with a fully sustainable landscape or make smaller adjustments to your inputs, there’s only upside for you, your community and the environment.