One way to define a sustainable landscape is as one that is maintained with practices and materials that have minimal or no impact on the environment, or that even work to improve it. The starting point for a sustainable landscape, then, is the plant material one selects. Plants that require a lot of maintenance and moisture are not usually the plants of choice for property managers who want to practice sustainability.

Here are a few ways plants can provide aesthetic and practical benefits while at the same time helping the environment:

  • Consider replacing difficult-to-water plants with native and more drought-tolerant plants. This conserves water which also reduces your landscape’s carbon footprint.
  • Be vigilant about maintaining your property’s big trees. They not only add immense aesthetic value, they provide shade, sequester carbon dioxide, and produce oxygen.
  • Bioswales and rain gardens with native plants require minimal maintenance. In return, they reduce wasteful runoff by slowly reintroducing water back into the soil.
  • Bio mass involves adding diversity to landscapes by layering plant material. The strategy encourages wildlife and beneficial insects, optimizes carbon sequestration, and promotes a more complex and healthier ecosystem overall.
  • Be aware of invasive plant species entering your landscape and treat them like a weed. The worst of them can seriously disrupt your landscape and threaten native plant material.

Making the right plant choice is just one way you can increase your landscape’s sustainability. Using recycled material in hardscape elements, recycling water, and reducing runoff all contribute to protecting and improving the environment.

As stewards of the environment, landscape professionals are well versed in sustainable practices.  As your building or property seeks to improve its eco-friendly operations, talk with your landscape professional about things you can do to protect and even improve your commercial environment.

Photo courtesy of Dennis 7 Dees Landscape, Portland, OR. 

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