Monday, April 12, 2010

Beautiful Landscaping - The Eco-Friendly Way

The other day, while walking along the river, I came to an area where Daffodils were blooming. They were beautiful! On the ground around them, Dandelions were also blooming. The affect was stunning ... masses of bright yellow Daffodils above a carpet of bright yellow Dandelions.

A little later on my walk, I came upon lovely blue, purple and white flowers ... growing wild. The plants were healthy and thriving.

Returning to our apartment complex, landscapers were out in force ... spraying chemicals on the lawn, riding gas powered mowers, cutting down trees and creating the perfectly manicured lawn. I thought ... what's wrong with this picture? We destroy beautiful plants (weeds) which grow without any care or maintenance and replace them with inefficient landscapes which require watering, fertilizing and a lot of care. Seems backwards, doesn't it?

Beautiful lawns and exotic plants are lovely but they aren't environmentally efficient. Here are a few reasons why:
  • Lawns are only able to absorb about 1/10 rainfall ... the rest is runoff.
  • The shallow root systems of grass are not able to stabilize the soil resulting in erosion.
  • Pesticide use, to keep those lawns green and perfect, kills beneficial insects and birds.
  • Some exotic, non-native plants invade an area, killing native vegetation (think Kudzo and Japanese Barberry).
  • Lawns and exotic plants require up to 60% more water than native plants and typically don't survive droughts.

So, does that mean we can't have lovely, efficient yards? Not at all! Here are a few ideas:

Choose native plants for your landscaping. They are hardier than exotic plants and will require less water, fertilizer and care.

Consider deciduous trees. They not only offer shade and beauty to a yard, they can also offer shade to your home. That, in turn, will cut down on cooling costs in the summer. In the fall, when they loose their leaves, the barren branches will offer variety and interest to the yard as well as allow sunlight to heat your home.

Rather than planting a lawn, consider installing a woodland or use wild flowers to create a lovely meadow effect.

With a little thought and planning, our yards can be beautiful and "Green".

As always ... I would love to hear from you.


  1. I was looking at the dandalions in my yard just yesterday, thinking how vibrant the beautiful. I was wondering why they and violets (one of my favorite weeds) are considered it because they are money and maintainance free?
    I think you would like my yard...every year there are more flowers and herbs and not even enough grass to mow :)
    Great post!

  2. As a child, smelling the dandelions and blowing on them when they turned white, there's no way I would've considered them weeds. To this day, I try to avoid killing them when mowing the lawn.

  3. This is great advice. I live in Las Vegas in the desert, and our city gives cash incentives to people who remove their grass yards and replace them with desert landscaping.
    Most condominium and apartment complexes have gone desert scape, ours has and I love it. There are so many beautiful exotic looking desert plants and many of them flower, especially here in the high desert.
    Much better for the environment to stick with native.

  4. So well said! I completely agree with you - just wish those pretty little weeds didn't bug our E's nose and eyes so bad. Darn hayfever! Anyway - they are beautiful aren't they? :) I love your photos btw!

  5. One day, I walked pass a house. It has an amatuer sigs," Please don't mow or spray" by the foot path. I took a photo in anticipation of doing a post.

    How true about sprays. The manufacturers don't tell you how long the poison remains.

  6. Great minds think alike! I agree 100% with NOT planting grass. It is such a waste! I planted all clover on my 1/2 acre, (in between all the raised garden beds).
    My reasons were:
    1. I don't mow
    2. It saves water, I only watered it to get it started during really dry spells.
    3. The roots are about 6-8" long on most of it.
    4. The blooms are really pretty
    5. The rabbits have more to eat besides my Swiss Chard & Eggplant!