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.