A landscape that minimizes the inputs of
natural resources, maximizes recycling of
materials, and minimizes outputs that have
negative effects on the environment – while
still supplying the social need of aesthetics
Sustainability — Practices that would ensure the continued viability of a product or practice well into the future.
Sustainable Development — An approach to progress that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Sustainable Landscaping — Low-impact, low-maintenance, low-resource-use landscaping that fits a particular site and climate.
According to the California Integrated Waste Management Board’s (CIWMB) “Sustainable
Landscaping” publication, “Sustainable landscapes are managed by using practices that
preserve limited and costly natural resources, reduce waste generation, and help prevent air,
water, and soil pollution. The goal is to minimize environmental impacts and maximize value
received from dollars expended.”
Brad Roeller — My definition of a sustainable landscape is one where, once the plants are established (typically a one- to two-year process) the need for additional irrigation, fertilization, or pesticides should be nil. Sounds nice, but I have seen very few examples of sustainable landscapes.
Many “sustainable” landscape designers are using the “natural” model, going “wild” by using native plants in a more naturalistic design. While these intentions are laudable, unless one thoroughly analyzes the growing characteristics of the property and makes wise plant selections based on their investigations, their plantings are destined to need continued sustenance. Even if the necessary site investigations are made and plants are selected based upon growing constraints, unless accepted planting and post-planting care guidelines are used, even the best natives for your site will perform poorly.
One popular application associated with landscaping with natives involves restoration projects in woodlands, meadows, wetlands or other riparian areas where the goal is to introduce indigenous native species back into their representative habitats. This approach is also finding some popularity in residential and even commercial landscapes. While it is typically used for large areas that have varying degrees of functioning native plant communities present, it does have a place in “small” landscapes. The time has come for ecologically designed landscape, and there is no reason that even the smallest of landscapes can’t duplicate a particular and appropriate habitat and landscape with plants obligate to that ecological niche.