As the [population] grows, communities use more resourcesandgenerate morewaste. Environmental
    agencies are lookingclosely at urban landscapes forsolutions tolong-term pollutionproblems.
    Consequently, legal restrictions arebeing placed onlandscape design and maintenance practices.

    Role of Landscape Managers
    Landscape contractors and site managers can efficientlymanageresources so as toreduce waste and
    prevent pollution.Withforethought, they can design andmaintainsustainablelandscapes that are
    cost-effective and environmentally sound.

    What Are Sustainable Landscapes?
    Sustainable landscapes are managed with practices thatconserve limited, valuablenatural resources,
    reduce waste,andprevent pollution of the air, water, and soil.Thegoal istoprovide as much value as
    possible with the leastenvironmentalimpact.

    What Are the Benefits of Sustainable Landscaping?
    Traditionallandscaping often requires a great deal of water,energy, labor, andotherresource — in
    which caseenvironmental and economic costs might outweighthenaturalbenefits of urban
    landscapes. By contrast,sustainablelandscapes (a)rely onhealthier, longer-lived plants that (b)
    require little or no chemical pesticideand fertilizeruse, (c)dramatically reduce water use, and (d) cut
    back on wastegeneration anddisposal. Sustainable landscapes also need lessmaintenance anddo not
    pollute groundwater.

    Using Sustainable Practices
    Sustainable landscapes need not be hot, dry gardens of cactusand gravel. Theycaninclude beautiful
    flowers and otherplants,shrubs, and trees that reducemaintenancecosts whileprotecting the
    environment. Using sustainable landscapemaintenancepractices makes good business sense. They  
    decrease (a) resourcedepletion, (b)waste generation, and (c)pollution problems, at the same time
    rehabilitating thelandscape in a  picturesque and cost-effective manner.

    Build Healthy Soils
    Healthy soils are essential in urban landscapes. Organic matteradditions (compostorhumus) can
    transform poor soils into afertile growth medium that supportshealthyplant growthwhilereducing
    water and fertilization requirements. Healthydisease-andpest-resistant plants improve landscape
    appearance andincreaseproperty values.

    Use Mulch
    Use shredded or chipped plant materials with the necessarywood content as amulchcover over the
    soil in planting bedsand other bare areas in the landscape.Mulch will
    (a) insulate plant roots, (b) prevent weed growth and waterloss, and (c) controlerosion, dust, and
    mud. Mulchdecomposition conditions the soil and addsnutrients.

    Irrigate Efficiently
    Don't waste water! Overwatered plants may grow too fast.Therunoff contributestoground-water
    pollution. Use water-efficient irrigation systems, such as drip orlow-outputsprinklerheads, that
    deliver a precise volume of water toplant rootzones.Develop watering schedules based onhistorical
    or actualweather data. Usesoil probesto monitorsoil moisture beforewatering.

    Limit Fertilization
    Use precisely the right amount of fertilizer at the right time.  Ifyou fertilizecorrectly,plants won't
    grow too fast and willinstead be healthy and disease- andpest-resistant.Fertilizeaccording to the
    needs of the individual plant. Use slow-releaseor organicformulas based on nutrient needs  verifiedby
    soiltesting. Thiswill reduce growthspurts that increasethe needfor pruning and mowing.

    Grasscycle Turf Areas
    Use mulching mowers that leave grass clippings on the lawn asyou mow. Theydecompose quickly and
    release valuablenutrients back into the soil. You'll use lesswater and fertilizer,reduce maintenance
    costs, and create no waste. If you'vebeenmowing often enough, the clippings will be short andwon't
    cover the grass.

    Prune Selectively
    Excessive and haphazard pruning of shrubs and trees iswastefuland unhealthy.Pruning should be
    used only tomaintain naturalgrowth patterns. Hedging,topping,andshearing of landscapeplants into
    formal shapes only encourageexcessive newgrowth.Using natural pruning techniques at theproper
    season willpromote healthierplants and also reduce“suckering” andstabilize growth.

    Reuse Organic Materials On-Site
    A chipper at the landscape site can mulch prunings andclippingsfrom woodyshrubsand trees, and you
    can then applythe mulchon the landscape. Trimmingsandclippings fromlawns, trees,and shrubs from
    large landscape sites canbecomefeedstock foron-site composting operations, reducingthe need for

    Recycle Organic Materials Off-Site
    If lawn clippings, shrub and tree trimmings, or prunings mustberemoved fromlandscape sites, take
    them to a localcompostingfacility or green waste processorforrecycling.When buyingmulches and
    composts, look for products withthehighestrecycled green-waste content to support andsustain

    Practice Pollution Prevention
    Landscape managers: Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) sothat you'll rely lesson chemical
    pesticides and herbicides,which can eventually make their way off-siteand contributetononpoint
    source pollution (pollution not traceable to asinglelocation). As much as possible, use nonmotorized
    equipment toreduceemissions andnoise pollution.

    Retrofit Inefficient Landscapes
    As established landscape sites age or grow beyond theirintended use, you'll needtoredesign them so
    as to integrateresource efficiency, site function, andaesthetics.Reduce turfareas and establish new
    landscape plantings of low-maintenanceanddrought-tolerant plants. Retrofit irrigationsystems. Enrich
    depleted soils to save waterand promotehealthy plant growth.

    Amend Contract Specifications
    A good landscape-maintenance program requires a contractthatprovides for andpromotes sustainable
    practices. Sitemanagersand contractors should develop anduse sustainablelandscapemaintenance
    contract specifications that areresource-efficient.They should include good culturalpractices, water
    management, greenwastemanagement, andpreventivemaintenance management clauses.

    Think Recycle/Buy Recycled
    Recycling materials from the construction, installation, orupkeep of landscapesites willreduce waste.
    Wood wasteconverts to mulch. Plastic pots can berecycled forlandscapeuse. Buying recycled-
    content landscaping products, such asplastic edgingor lumber, conserves natural resources and
    strengthens markets forthese recyclablematerials.

Garden compost
bush sage
acacia in
Cherry red sage
Photo: George Delange
    why sustainable landscaping?
Please call us at 520-730-6153 for a free on-site consultation
or e-mail
© 2015 EcoSense Landscaping, LLC All Rights Reserved