Creating a Sustainable Landscape: 3 Simple Actions That Matter
Creating a Sustainable Landscape
By Joe Lamp'l of Growing a Greener World
For me, trying to lighten my environmental footprint starts with doing everything I can to create and nurture a healthy, sustainable landscape. As a gardener, horticulturalist, and passionate steward of the earth with a national television and media platform, I love to share simple, actionable takeaways that anyone can implement.
If you’re looking for doable ways to live a greener life in your own little corner of the world, here are a few simple ways to get started.
Reduce or Stop Using Chemicals
Eliminate or reduce the use of synthetic chemicals. It’s an imperative step in creating a healthy ecosystem.
For insect pest control, get out to your garden and landscape often and early so that you can find and easily pick pests off by hand before they get a stronghold. But be sure to positively identify them as true pests first. Only about 3% of all garden insects are true pests.
Focus on Creating Healthier Soil
A critical key to a more sustainable landscape starts with healthy soil. As an alternative to synthetic fertilizers, I make and use compost everywhere I can. The organic matter provided in compost offers the perfect balance of nutrients and microorganisms to feed the soil, so the soil can feed the plants and lawns, just as nature intended.
A focus on improving the soil with organic material such as compost, rotted leaves, finely ground pine bark, etc. creates the best possible environment for all that’s growing there. The results include:
- Less need for water, since good soil retains more water.
- Soil that’s less susceptible to runoff and erosion because healthy soil improves drainage and binds soil particles.
- Healthier plants and a better growing environment, resulting in fewer pests and diseases, so fewer chemicals.
As a finite resource, 30-50% of our daily water consumption goes for outdoor use. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
In lawns, water only as needed, not simply because your timer is set to keep it coming. Lawns prefer just an inch of water each week, total. A rain gauge will help you know how much water is getting to your lawn.
For trees, shrubs and bedding plants, use soaker hoses, soaker attachments or drip irrigation to deliver water right where you need it, without excess runoff, and at a rate and volume where the roots have a chance to take it up while adequately soaking the soil around just the immediate root area.
A portable timer is the key to making sure plants get just enough but not too much water.
Early in the morning is the best time to water anything to maximize the amount of water reaching the soil surface, while minimizing the time grass and leaves stays wet.
And add mulch around all your trees and plants, to help keep moisture in the soil longer and reduce runoff.
Finally, as you create a healthy ecosystem at home, be sure to include wildlife-attracting native (non-invasive) plants and trees that provide shelter, nesting sites, and food sources through berries, seeds, and nuts.
Raised Bed Gardening
You can use Joe's sustainable landscape tips for your raised bed gardens too.
If you are interested in receiving hands-on instruction for raised bed gardening, then our new class is built for you. In Raised Bed Building and Growing: A build-it, grow-it yourself workshop with Brad Kelly, participants will assemble a raised bed and leave with all the information to plant and cultivate a vegetable or herb garden.
About the author:
Joe Lamp’l is the Creator, Host and Executive Producer of the award-winning national PBS series, Growing a Greener World® and Founder and “Joe” behind joegardener®. He is also an on-air contributor to The Today Show, Good Morning America and The Weather Channel. Past awards include The American Horticultural Society’s B.Y. Morrison Communication Award, which recognizes effective and inspirational communication—through print, radio, television, podcasts and other online media. For more information, check out Joe’s website for free resource guides, how-to videos, podcasts and more: www.joegardener.com