TIPS TO WORK EFFECTIVELY WITH A LANDSCAPE PROFESSIONAL
What the pros recommend
Following sustainable living practices is not just a trend-du-jour, it’s a lifestyle choice that is important for today and for future generations. Sustainable living refers to behaviors that minimize our use or overuse of non-renewable resources. Here are a myriad of ways you can make your landscape more sustainable, allowing it to further enhance its value to the environment. Check out these 10 ideas to get you started.
1. Have a landscape. Plants - whether they are trees, shrubs, flowers or lawns - are critical to our urban and suburban communities. After all the “green movement” is all about plants and the positive benefits they bring.They absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen; they shade and cool our neighborhoods; and they prevent erosion, reduce dust and filter water as it moves through the soil to the aquifer.
2. Grow Plants in Pots. No space? No problem. If you only have a patio, deck or rooftop space for your outdoor living area, grow plants in containers. Grow flowers that attract and feed pollinators; grow vegetables or herbs. You can even use potted plants for privacy screens.
3. Recycle/Compost. When you mow, leave the clippings on the lawn, a practice called grasscycling. The clippings decay very rapidly releasing the nutrients they contain to be reused by the lawn. You can reduce the need to apply fertilizer by ¼ to 1/3 by grasscycling. In addition, you can also mulch light layers of leaves into your lawn and use heavier leaf coverings as mulch around plants.
4. Conserve water. Collect roof runoff in a rain barrel and use this water for plants in pots or for flower beds. If you have an irrigation system, 1) inspect it regularly to see that all valves are working properly and heads are irrigating the landscape and not the driveway; 2) readjust the timing to match the season’s rain fall and plant needs; 3) install a rainfall sensor that will shut the system down if it rains; and 4) check the system’s uniformity and consider upgrading to a smart control system which will water when plants need it, not on a clock and calendar controller.
5. Protect runoff water from plant debris and fertilizer nutrients. Leaves, grass clippings, and fertilizers contain nutrients that can damage streams and ponds if not managed properly. After fertilizing, clean walks, streets and other paved surfaces of any fertilizer granules. When mowing or raking, do not allow leaves or clippings to remain on paved surfaces; instead, sweep or blow the material back onto your landscape to recycle the nutrients.
6. Encourage the use of reclaimed water. Using sanitized sewage water for irrigation of landscapes is a great water conserving practice as it greatly reduces the need to use potable water or well water for irrigation.
7. Use fertilizers and pest control products carefully. Use the right products at the right rates at the proper time of year. When using such products, follow label instructions carefully. Do not assume that if a little does the job, more will do it better. Understand the products you are using and make sure they can be effective for the task at hand. Landscape professionals are trained in using such products.
8. Replace plants that are chronic problems. Your landscape will change with time. If you have a problem with part of your landscape that requires extraordinary inputs of water, pest control or labor year after year, replace it with hardier plant material.
9. Create a habitat for wildlife. By adding plants to create multiple levels of foliage and flowers that are attractive to pollinators, you can make your own mini wildlife refuge. Pollinators, birds and small animals like habitats where trees, shrubs and grasses create food and shelter.
10. Enjoy. Sustainability is also about personal health. Make your landscape a functional part of your life. Encourage family exercise and outdoor activities. Entertain and relax in your outdoor living space.
If you need advice on ways you can make your landscape more sustainable, consult a landscape professional.