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Sustainable Landscaping – Save the Planet and Your Pocketbook

People begin sustainable landscaping for many reasons, and it has many benefits for the environment, regardless of where you live. It also benefits you as a homeowner.

Hands Holding Plant

Let’s talk first about the environmental benefits.

Done properly, sustainable landscaping can help reduce the amount of water usage on your property, balance nature more effectively, and help reduce the amount of waste from your plants and your landscaping.

You’ll be protecting the quality of the soil and the habitats of wildlife.

You and your family can work together to learn more about nature and how ecosystems effect each other.

Family Doing Yard Work

Next, let’s discuss the personal benefits.

Your garden, community, and family will be healthier when surrounded by landscaping that is healthy for the environment.

You’ll spend less money on lawn chemicals, waste, water, and energy.


How do you begin?

First, you’ll want to examine your landscaping area for drainage, sun, shade, rainfall, and slope. Check the current landscaping to see what you may want to keep.  Also, be realistic  about your schedule and budget before beginning.

To test your soil for drainage, dig a 1’x1’x1′ hole in your yard and fill it with water.  The length of time this hole takes to drain will determine the quality of your soil drainage. Follow this guide:  under 30 minutes = good drainage, 30 minutes-2 hours = medium drainage, over 2 hours = bad drainage.

If you have bad drainage, please click here for ideas to help.


Next, determine your goal for this landscaping:  how do you want it to look from the street and from inside the house?

How much shade will you want?

Will you be growing a garden, as well?

What will you be using this landscaping for (entertaining, relaxing, playing, etc.)?

Your answers to these questions will determine how you design the landscaping and the plants you choose.

Also, be realistic about your schedule and budget before beginning.

Plant stake tags include their water/ shade requirements and best growing regions. Make sure you reference those tags when purchasing your plants. Please reference the USDA map here to find your temperate zone.



Remember to compost to build up the nutrients in your soil!

For further details on any of the above, please also check out the more-sustainable-landscaping1_2012 Powerpoint.

Small Changes to be Sustainable

Do you want to be more sustainable with your landscaping, but you don’t have the time or budget to drastically change your landscaping?  There are other ways you can make your yard more sustainable:

  • Mow less often.  Taller grass has deeper roots and will stay greener longer in case of drought.
  • Rake your leaves and mulch them.  They will help return vital nutrients to the soil.
  • Use electric power equipment, not gas, to cut down on fossil fuel use.
  • Fertilize only when necessary to reduce chemicals in the soil.
  • Spread grass seed every year in Spring and Fall to keep your lawn full and reduce weeds.

Every little bit helps!


Thanks for growing along with us! Don’t forget to share your tips, pictures, and stories in the comments!