Green Living Spaces: A Guide to Sustainable Landscapes

Sustainable landscapes are becoming increasingly important as society strives to create environmentally responsible and aesthetically pleasing outdoor spaces. By incorporating sustainable practices into their landscape designs, homeowners can reduce their environmental footprint, conserve resources, and enhance the overall health and well-being of their living environments. This comprehensive guide will delve into various aspects of sustainable landscaping, providing insights and practical tips to help you create green and thriving outdoor spaces.

Sustainable Materials and Design

One of the most straightforward ways to create a green landscape is to choose materials that adhere to circular construction principles. A few ideas along this line include:

Use reclaimed or recycled materials: Consider incorporating reclaimed wood, recycled glass, or repurposed bricks into your landscape. These materials not only reduce waste but also add character and charm.
Choose durable and low-maintenance materials: Opt for materials such as stone, concrete, or composite decking, which require minimal upkeep and have a long lifespan.
Implement water-saving techniques: Utilize rainwater harvesting systems, install drip irrigation, and select drought-tolerant plants to minimize water consumption.

By choosing any of these sustainable landscaping materials, the energy and resource consumption throughout the exterior’s lifespan will be greatly diminished.

Native Plants and Biodiversity

One of the quickest ways to turn an exterior into a resource-guzzling pit is to choose non-native plants for landscaping. While they may look wonderful in theory, non-native species require an inordinate amount of resources to feel “at home,” adding inefficiency to the exterior. Therefore, it is important to:

Embrace native species: Native plants are adapted to your local climate and require less water, fertilizer, and pesticides. They also attract beneficial insects and wildlife, enhancing biodiversity.
Create diverse habitats: Incorporate a variety of plants, including trees, shrubs, grasses, and flowers, to provide food and shelter for different species. This supports a thriving ecosystem.
Minimize invasive species: Avoid planting non-native species that can spread aggressively and outcompete native plants.

Through the meticulous selection of the right plants and creating a diverse ecosystem, a home’s landscaping can be as natural as possible with minimal intervention required on the part of the homeowner.

A small park with Australian Native plants, designed and modeled with Lands Design
A small park with Australian Native plants, designed and modeled with Lands Design. See the project here.

Paving and Decking

The creation of functional exterior space is a major trend in the contemporary home market. Not only can functional exteriors increase curb appeal and leverage square footage, but they can help enhance a less energy-intensive style of living that relies less on heavily conditioned interior areas. With that said, exterior spaces must be built with durability and longevity in mind in order to maximize sustainability. Some points to keep in mind include:

Concrete sealers: Enhance the aesthetics and durability of pavers by applying a wet look sealer for pavers that protects against stains, dirt, and moisture.
Permeable paving: Consider using permeable pavers or gravel for walkways and driveways. This allows rainwater to infiltrate the ground, reducing runoff and erosion.
High quality fasteners: For decking construction, the best deck screws are weather- and corrosion-resistant to ensure longevity and structural integrity through all seasons.

When functional exteriors are designed with sustainability in mind, they contribute not only to green landscaping principles, but enhance safety as well.

Below-Deck Waterproofing

A home’s landscaping will confront a significant amount of moisture throughout its lifespan. Not only will it have to stand up to precipitation that could lead to erosive runoff, but regular watering must be accounted for as well.

While many homeowners understand the importance of adequately sloping, aerating, and mulching the perimeter of their lawns to reduce the risk of moisture damage, few understand how to waterproof under a deck. Under-deck waterproofing is essential to protect the structural integrity of your deck. Moisture damage can make the deck unsafe and lead to costly repairs. For optimal results and long-term protection, it is advisable to consult with a professional contractor if the project feels too ambitious for a DIY effort.

Sustainable Lighting and Energy

The exterior of your home is a great place to leverage green energy. Some of the best ways to accomplish this include:

Energy-efficient lighting: Utilize LED or solar-powered fixtures to reduce energy consumption without compromising brightness.
Motion sensors and timers: Install motion sensors and timers to automate lighting, saving energy and enhancing security.
Consider renewable energy sources: Explore the possibility of incorporating solar panels or wind turbines to generate renewable energy for your landscape.

It is also a great idea to take advantage of walkway and gazebo lighting that adjusts based on solar intensity, ensuring that energy is not wasted while the sun is in full force.

Sustainable landscape design ideas: a gazebo with solar panel
Sustainable landscape design and lighting ideas: a gazebo with solar panel

Embrace the Future With Sustainable Landscapes

Creating sustainable landscapes requires a holistic approach that encompasses materials, design, biodiversity, and energy efficiency. By incorporating the practices outlined in this guide, you can establish green living spaces that enhance the environment, conserve resources, and provide a sanctuary for both humans and wildlife. For more of the latest ideas and trends on all landscaping matters, explore the resources at Lands Design blog for the leading insights in the industry!

Author Bio:
Sam Willis is a freelance writer who loves sharing his knowledge and expertise in residential and commercial real estate, as well as engineering and construction. Sam’s work as a freelance writer can be found on Building Product Advisor, a construction industry resource site.