As the [population] grows, communities use more resources and generate more
    waste. Environmental agencies are looking closely at urban landscapes for
    solutions to long-term pollution problems. Consequently, legal restrictions are
    being placed on landscape design and maintenance practices.

    Role of Landscape Managers
    Landscape contractors and site managers can efficiently manage resources so as to
    reduce waste and prevent pollution. With forethought, they can design and
    maintain sustainable landscapes that are cost-effective and environmentally sound.

    What Are Sustainable Landscapes?
    Sustainable landscapes are managed with practices that conserve limited, valuable
    natural resources, reduce waste, and prevent pollution of the air, water, and soil.
    The goal is to provide as much value as possible with the least environmental

    What Are the Benefits of Sustainable Landscaping?
    Traditional landscaping often requires a great deal of water, energy, labor, and
    other resource — in which case environmental and economic costs might outweigh
    the natural benefits of urban landscapes. By contrast, sustainable landscapes (a)
    rely on healthier, longer-lived plants that (b) require little or no chemical pesticide
    and fertilizer use, (c) dramatically reduce water use, and (d) cut back on waste
    generation and disposal. Sustainable landscapes also need less maintenance and
    do not pollute ground water.

    Using Sustainable Practices
    Sustainable landscapes need not be hot, dry gardens of cactus and gravel. They
    can include beautiful flowers and other plants, shrubs, and trees that reduce
    maintenance costs while protecting the environment. Using sustainable landscape
    maintenance practices makes good business sense. They  decrease (a) resource
    depletion, (b) waste generation, and (c) pollution problems, at the same time
    rehabilitating the landscape in a  picturesque and cost-effective manner.

    Build Healthy Soils
    Healthy soils are essential in urban landscapes. Organic matter additions (compost
    or humus) can transform poor soils into a fertile growth medium that supports
    healthy plant growth while reducing water and fertilization requirements. Healthy
    disease- and pest-resistant plants improve landscape appearance and increase
    property values.

    Use Mulch
    Use shredded or chipped plant materials with the necessary wood content as a
    mulch cover over the soil in planting beds and other bare areas in the landscape.
    Mulch will
    (a) insulate plant roots, (b) prevent weed growth and water loss, and (c) control
    erosion, dust, and mud. Mulch decomposition conditions the soil and adds

    Irrigate Efficiently
    Don't waste water! Overwatered plants may grow too fast. The runoff contributes
    to ground-water pollution. Use water-efficient irrigation systems, such as drip or
    low-output sprinkler heads, that deliver a precise volume of water to plant root
    zones. Develop watering schedules based on historical or actual weather data. Use
    soil probes to monitor soil moisture before watering.

    Limit Fertilization
    Use precisely the right amount of fertilizer at the right time.  If you fertilize
    correctly, plants won't grow too fast and will instead be healthy and disease- and
    pest-resistant. Fertilize according to the needs of the individual plant. Use slow-
    release or organic formulas based on nutrient needs  verified by soil testing. This
    will reduce growth spurts that increase the need for pruning and mowing.

    Grasscycle Turf Areas
    Use mulching mowers that leave grass clippings on the lawn as you mow. They
    decompose quickly and release valuable nutrients back into the soil. You'll use less
    water and fertilizer, reduce maintenance costs, and create no waste. If you've
    been mowing often enough, the clippings will be short and won't cover the grass.

    Prune Selectively
    Excessive and haphazard pruning of shrubs and trees is wasteful and unhealthy.
    Pruning should be used only to maintain natural growth patterns. Hedging,
    topping, and shearing of landscape plants into formal shapes only encourage
    excessive new growth. Using natural pruning techniques at the proper season will
    promote healthier plants and also reduce “suckering” and stabilize growth.

    Reuse Organic Materials On-Site
    A chipper at the landscape site can mulch prunings and clippings from woody
    shrubs and trees, and you can then apply the mulch on the landscape. Trimmings
    and clippings from lawns, trees, and shrubs from large landscape sites can become
    feedstock for on-site composting operations, reducing the need for outside soil

    Recycle Organic Materials Off-Site
    If lawn clippings, shrub and tree trimmings, or prunings must be removed from
    landscape sites, take them to a local composting facility or green waste processor
    for recycling. When buying mulches and composts, look for products with the
    highest recycled green-waste content to support and sustain long-term market

    Practice Pollution Prevention
    Landscape managers: Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) so that you'll rely less
    on chemical pesticides and herbicides, which can eventually make their way off-
    site and contribute to nonpoint source pollution (pollution not traceable to a
    single location). As much as possible, use nonmotorized equipment to reduce
    emissions and noise pollution.

    Retrofit Inefficient Landscapes
    As established landscape sites age or grow beyond their intended use, you'll need
    to redesign them so as to integrate resource efficiency, site function, and
    aesthetics. Reduce turf areas and establish new landscape plantings of low-
    maintenance and drought-tolerant plants. Retrofit irrigation systems. Enrich
    depleted soils to save water and promote healthy plant growth.

    Amend Contract Specifications
    A good landscape-maintenance program requires a contract that provides for and
    promotes sustainable practices. Site managers and contractors should develop and
    use sustainable landscape maintenance contract specifications that are resource-
    efficient. They should include good cultural practices, water management, green
    waste management, and preventive maintenance management clauses.

    Think Recycle/Buy Recycled
    Recycling materials from the construction, installation, or upkeep of landscape
    sites will reduce waste. Wood waste converts to mulch. Plastic pots can be
    recycled for landscape use. Buying recycled-content landscaping products, such as
    plastic edging or lumber, conserves natural resources and strengthens markets for
    these recyclable materials.

bush sage
acacia in
Cherry red sage
Photo: George Delange
Please call us at 520-730-6153 for a free on-site consultation
or e-mail
CONTACT: EcoSense Landscaping ROC# 258275
Tucson, Arizona
© 2009 EcoSense Landscaping, LLC
All Rights Reserved
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