Homeowners want to have the perfect yard. It should be filled with shrubs and trees organized in a visually appealing manner. However, landscaping not only tends to be costly but also harmful to the environment — but this shouldn’t be the case. We encourage you to take note of nature as you create and maintain your yard. With this in mind, here are 17 eco-friendly landscaping ideas.
17 Eco-Friendly Landscaping Ideas
1. Practice Xeriscaping
The idea of xeriscaping dates back to 1981. Basically, it refers to a landscaping practice that focuses on surviving drought. Your area doesn’t need to be exposed to drought for you to consider xeriscaping — the point is for homeowners to reduce the need for watering. Thus, it’s a way to save on your water bills.
One simple form of xeriscaping is to place plants with the same water requirements together for efficient irrigation. Likewise, you can replace some of the grasses in your property for drought-resistant variants. These include the Mexican feather grass, blue oat grass, purple fountain grass, and the yellow pampas grass. Similarly, succulents such as agave, aeonium, sedum, and crassula plants are ideal choices.
2. Choose Native Plants
Native plants are best when you are choosing plants and trees for your yard. Native trees and plants are beneficial to local wildlife and are acclimated to local climate and rainfall patterns. Native plants also require very little maintenance because they are naturally resistant to local pests and disease. They hardly need fertilizers, pesticides, or supplemental watering; therefore, they are easy and inexpensive to maintain and are environmentally friendly.
3. Install a Sprinkler System
Irrigation is an important activity in any landscaping project. After all, you must maintain the lush and green appearance of your shrubs and trees. Nobody wants to have discolored and wilting foliage. Even though you cannot completely eliminate the need for water in your yard, you can always do it more efficiently.
Instead of doing it manually with a garden hose, why not install a sprinkler system? This eliminates the need to do it all on your own. Plus, you get to set the time and application rate. In addition, a drip irrigation system should work best for garden beds. This saves water by targeting the root systems instead of the foliage. Water them deeply to encourage deep root establishment that makes plants better equipped to combat strong winds and diseases.
4. Understand Your Area
Whether you’re moving to a new area or you’ve stayed in the same residence for years, you should know the pros and cons of being there. For example, areas that are prone to strong winds would mean using more water. A house that resides in an uneven area should be prepared for soil erosion and runoff. This way, you’ll know early on where to install protective barriers and implement a design that resists erosion — saving you from high repair costs in the long run.
Likewise, you can take advantage of the sunlight. If you live in a cold region, you can have south-facing windows to welcome warmth in your home. Your property can also be designed in such a way that your front yard and driveway receive adequate sunlight. This makes it easier to manage the accumulation of ice and snow during winter.
5. Use Synthetic Grass
This might sound like it’s directly opposite to the goal of an eco-friendly yard, but this will save you resources in the future. Synthetic or artificial grass resembles your lawn grass without requiring much maintenance. You don’t have to buy any chemical fertilizer, pesticide, or herbicide that can lead to water pollution.
Water is also unnecessary in keeping a vivid appearance. No matter how many times your kids and pets run around, the grass won’t suffer from heavy foot traffic. There’s also no need to get a lawnmower that could release toxic fumes into the atmosphere. Furthermore, your local area might even provide a rebate if you switch to synthetic grass.
6. Plant Ground Cover Instead of Grass
The advantages of ground cover over grassed lawns are many. Ground cover hugs the ground and requires little to no mowing, no additional watering, and no pesticides or herbicides. Moss makes a beautiful lawn for shady areas.
Moss is green even in the high heat of summer and feels wonderful under bare feet. Clover is also an excellent groundcover for lawns that is in full sun. It is sweet-smelling, feels soft and cushiony underfoot, helps to prevent soil compaction and stays green during times of drought.
Creeping perennials may also be used for groundcover lawns, many of which smell wonderful, need little maintenance, and feel soft underfoot.
7. Keep Your Grass High and Dry
When you are mowing your lawn, leave the grass higher (cut up to a third of the total blade length at a time) and mow more frequently. Your lawn will retain more water and be healthier. Grass clippings that are 75-85% water, rich in nitrogen if left on the lawn will keep your lawn moist and healthy. Otherwise, you can discard the clippings in your new compost bin.
8. Replace a Section of Your Lawn
A huge lawn containing natural grass will be costly to maintain. If you don’t want to use artificial grass, you should at least consider cutting back on the size of your lawn. For example, beardtongue plants only need a yearly trimming as they provide colorful flowers throughout summer and fall. In addition, the Santa Barbara daisy works great as a vibrant edging plant.
In addition, you can develop a patio and a pathway to guide your visitors around your yard. There are many eco-friendly backyard pathway ideas you can choose from — some people cover their walkways with wood chips or mulch. A fallen or broken log can be cut to create wooden pallets for a pathway as well.
9. Get a Green Roof
The landscape isn’t limited to your yard. Instead of having a conventional roof, you can turn it into an eco-friendly roof that could significantly reduce your energy bills. Apart from reducing the heat inside your home or even providing insulation when needed, a green roof will also minimize water runoff. Of course, it also feels nice to relax on one’s own green roof.
Basically, your roof will be covered with lush vegetation. Local authorities encourage this type of sustainable roof construction — and it will surely improve the value of your property. It can effectively reduce noise pollution while also serving as the haven of plants and birds
10. Have a Green Wall
Also known as a living wall, this landscaping idea turns your wall into a garden of its own. You can easily grow herbs and flowers here using containers and planters. Apart from serving as an area for more plants, it also improves the appearance of your yard. Privacy is also improved since a living wall serves a barrier to prevent strangers from peering into your property.
11. Included Exterior Lighting
Installing some lights in your yard ensures that it will be appealing even at night. Furthermore, external lighting provides a sense of security due to increased visibility. A smart way to get lighting without spending more is to buy a solar-powered variant.
Essentially, these lights will generate power throughout the day before they illuminate at night. Get some lights with motion sensors as well if you want them to be activated only when someone’s around.
12. Use Mulch
We previously mentioned that pathways can be covered with mulching material. Well, a layer of mulch should also be used in other areas. Placing mulch around your shrubs prevents weeds from spreading. In addition, it keeps the temperature cool for the root systems.
Moisture is also better retained with a layer of mulch. While organic mulch can be bought in your local garden, it can also be made using coconut fibers or bark. The mulch eventually decomposes to feed the soil, so you don’t have to pay attention to it after the application.
13. Start Composting
Composting is the easiest and most popular backyard recycling trends. Composting not only reduces the amount of garbage we produce but also produces natural, free fertilizer. Making our own compost requires a warm, partly sunny area and some soil. You can easily install a compost bin even.
Add a mix of household and garden waste, including fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, newspapers, wood shavings, weeds, and cardboard in your designated area other than animal waste. This mix will provide the right environment for compost-making bugs, and within six to nine months, you will have rich, nutritious compost ready for use in your garden.
14. Get Reusable Landscaping Materials
Reusing materials is not only good for the planet but also for your wallet. Popular reusable materials are a natural stone, which looks great and durable at the same time. Decorative natural stones can be placed anywhere you like. For example, they look great at the side of your pathway. Stones can also be used to surround a flower bed or a beautiful tree. They can be moved around whenever you want, and they will definitely last a lifetime.
Overall, landscaping doesn’t mean you have to harm the environment. Looking for environmentally friendly options can be as simple as having an efficient irrigation system and looking for materials to recycle or reuse. Similarly, it helps to take advantage of geography. Creating a green roof or wall should also be considered.
15. Harvest Rainwater
Harvesting rainwater is one of the simplest ways to make your landscape green. Harvested rainwater is used to water plants, flowers, and vegetable gardens, thus reduce the amount of usage of household water for outdoor use. It also captures stormwater runoff from roofs and gutters, which prevents pollution from entering our water supply. You choose to use any rainwater harvesting system, including rain barrels, cisterns, or rain chains, to greatly improve your water footprint.
16. Eliminate or Minimize the Use of Fertilizers
Standard lawn care does not mean the use of fertilizers and herbicides that strip the soil of its nutrients and ultimately promote lawn disease, making the lawn dependent on the very chemicals. A better option is to utilize organic fertilizer and use only as much as you actually need. However, the best option is to completely eliminate the use of fertilizer and instead add compost and organic matter into your soil, aerate regularly, mow high, and incorporate moss and groundcover into your lawn.
17. Use Natural Pest Control and Herbicides
Pesticides have long been known to be detrimental to both the environment and our health. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) controls unwanted pests in a way that is both sustainable and safe, including techniques such as hand-removal of weeds and insects, attracting beneficial insects such as lacewings and praying mantises.
Selection of native plants that are naturally resistant, and utilizing natural insecticides such as insecticidal soaps and oil sprays for mites, aphids, and mealybugs, and milky spore bacteria for grubs are helpful. Slugs can be caught by sinking yogurt cups filled with beer or milk into the ground or by leaving hollowed-out grapefruit halves around your plants.
Aphids and mites can readily be managed with ladybugs. In rural areas, chickens are natural predators of ticks and, if left free to roam, will gobble up lawn grubs while aerating and also fertilizing the lawn.
We hope that our guide inspired you to practice eco-friendly landscaping. If you have any questions, feel free to send us a comment.