5 Tips for A Functional and Sustainable Landscape
As children, we all imagined traveling down the rabbit hole to enter the imaginary world of Wonderland. Talking caterpillars and grinning cats accompanied by mysterious and beautiful landscapes.
Alice’s Wonderland consisted of lavish trees and larger than life flowers which as an adult seems pretty hard to recreate. Unlike Wonderland, our environment is subject to climate change and differs across the world.
Creating a sustainable landscape that thrives is achievable but does need some time and planning.
Our beautiful climate is changing, and we need to help restore nature to lower our impact on the environment. We are giving you 5 tips to help you conserve water and energy, reduce waste, and minimize your carbon footprint.
Before You Start
Make sure you research your landscape and know about existing soil and vegetation. Watch out for uneven surfaces and areas with poor drainage.
Determine your environmental goals and assess your budget. If you don’t go in with a clear vision and accurate budget, you may sell yourself short and not complete your project.
Ways to reduce long-term costs and go green include; using permeable surfaces, creating an on-site rainwater tank, keep existing plants and, grouping plants with similar needs.
If you’re determined to spend less in the upcoming year, why not grow your own food? Instead of outsourcing your fruit and vegetables, grow organic versions at home.
Not only will you be saving on grocery bills, but you will also be encouraging yourself to lead a greener lifestyle. When they are growing in your backyard it is hard to resist them. Also, their vitamin content is at its highest level when picked straight from the garden.
There are plenty of eco-friendly edibles that require little maintenance and water supply. Garlic is a great root vegetable that is easy to plant, requires minimal maintenance and won’t be disturbed by animals. Mulberry trees are as easy to grow as they are to eat. These fruit trees are generally drought tolerant but can use a little integration in the dry season.
Tomatoes are great additions to your garden, and all you need to do is make sure they get enough sun and support for their stalks. If you plant basil next to your tomatoes, it can help improve the flavor as well as repelling pests.
Salad greens like lettuce are easy to grow and harvest. Plant with rich, loamy soil to create a rapid growing leafy green. To harvest, simply cut the base of the head with some scissors or a knife, and watch it regrow. Shout “Off with their heads!” before cutting for the best result.
TIP: Involve your children in the setup and maintenance of your organic garden. Not only will it get them away from their screens, but it will help create healthy habits which they will pass on to other generations.
Choosing when to water your garden can alter the effectiveness of the water used as well as the health of your plants. Watering your garden early will mean less water is required for the best result. This is due to the colder temperatures in the morning which will help your plants absorb more water.
Overhead sprinklers aren’t the way to go unless you have a large lawn. Using tools like soaker hoses or using efficient drip irrigation techniques enables you to get straight to the roots while still maintaining dry foliage.
This is one of many ideas to create a more sustainable landscape without the involvement of hand watering may which may be tried and true but can be very time-consuming. It’s best to leave hand watering to smaller gardens and plants in containers.
The type of soil and mulch you use in your yard can also affect your water usage. Don’t waste your money on sandy, water repellent soils.
TIP: Don’t use just grass. Covering a large outdoor area with only grass can up your water consumption. Instead, break up your grassed area with stone or rock features in your design. Not only does this reduce the water needed, but it is also cost-effective and adds a dynamic, eye-catching outdoor space.
One way to improve your soil is composting your kitchen and garden waste. This saves you money and helps you reuse unwanted scraps.
In certain circumstances, you may need to use chemical fertilizers however it’s important to note that they are made from non-renewable sources, including fossil fuels. Not to mention, chemical fertilizers can change the PH balance of your soil which can contribute to the release of greenhouse gases.
Mulch balances soil temperatures and can reduce water evaporation rates by up to 75%. Placing a generous layer of mulch on top of your exposed soil will also help reduce this evaporation.
TIP: Invest in an accurate pH level testing kit. By testing your soil regularly, you can pick up any inaccuracies in your garden. Having a healthy pH level is critical to your plant’s ability to absorb nutrients.
Light Me Up
Adding lighting to your garden can help create certain atmospheres and really finish off your space. Unfortunately, traditional halogen outdoor lighting can be extremely harmful to the environment due to the large amount of non-renewable energy they use.
Use lower wattage bulbs to provide illumination rather than higher wattage which will wash out the stars and shine into your house. There is an abundance of low wattage LED lights on the market that range from classic to contemporary designs. With the price of these bulbs on the decline, they are an excellent option for your garden and can cater to all your design needs.
Solar powered lights are another alternative to traditional lighting and are very environmentally sound. These lights are great to light up paths and add some flair to your garden. However, it is important to note that the more sun the solar panels get, the brighter the light will be. It is important to keep these panels in full sunlight, and this can be harder in the colder months.
So, you’ve decided on your lighting type, where do you put them? While lighting can be placed pretty much anywhere, there are some key areas to focus illumination.
Paths – Lighting up your path will make walking more secure for yourself and your guests. It’s not necessary to have high illumination, keeping it simple with some downlights will prevent glare and not blind anyone.
Steps – Lighting steps are imperative for safety. Lights can be placed on the risers or the treads.
Outdoor Living – Areas like decks, patios, gazebos & pergolas are essential areas that need to be lit. Whether it’s to illuminate the entire area or to accentuate specific elements in the structure.
Walls – Lighting up a wall can create drama and in some cases act as a centerpiece for your landscape design. Washing or grazing an outdoor wall will complement colors and textures on your wall. Alternatively, adding fixtures like sconces can create a subtle yet sophisticated touch.
Recycling and reusing old materials is a wonderful way to minimize your impact on our environment while saving some coin in the process.
Utilising recycled site materials such as excavated rocks and timber can add flair to the garden. Call up some construction companies to see if they have some free stone or materials ready to take.
Some creative recycling ideas:
- Using plastic water bottles as plant protectors.
- Use plastic pipes to help stalks stay upright or create tunnel structures.
- Reuse tins for a rustic plant pot.
- Do up an old bathtub for container gardening and use it as a veggie patch.
- Upcycle old pallets as furniture. Add some cushions and rugs for a festival inspired garden.
- Use your old tires as planter boxes
- Release your inner artist by using broken china for a mosaic feature piece.
- Create beautiful looking planter pots from old newspaper.
TIP: Recently renovated? Use spare wood to create some planter boxes or even some outdoor seating.
- Use native plants. These types of plants are used to the climate and weather changes around you. However, try to avoid natural weeds that may spread into vegetation.
- Plant lavender. Lavender is an amazing addition to any garden as it has a fantastic scent and can be used for many homemade items such as lavender oil and wardrobe fragrance. Lavender doesn’t require much water and is nectar-rich which is great for bees.
Don’t settle for an artificial garden filled with fake grass and strong chemical fertilisers. Create a safe space for your family to enjoy and interact while helping the environment in the long run.
Grow your own vegetables, minimize your water usage, use homemade fertilizers, purchase environmentally friendly lighting and, recycle old, unwanted materials to create your custom garden…
We hope you can use some of these tips to create your perfect Wonderland. Although your garden might not pop up overnight perseverance and dedication is key, along with a little bit of madness.