Landscaping Tips for Eco-Friendly Designers


The landscaping business is one that's always growing and changing. Clients' needs adapt with the times, along with the technology that's available to help them keep up their outdoor spaces. A request that's becoming more popular each year is the need to go green. Clients want their landscaping to still look great, but be more environmentally friendly.

Green design requires careful thought from the planning stages to the implementation. With landscape designers and clients on the same page, any project can become both sustainable and beautiful. Try some of these landscaping tips in future architectural projects.

1. Integrate Goals into the Entire Project

Landscaping Tips for Eco-Friendly Designers

Naman Spa by MIA Design Studio

To catch every detail that isn't environmentally friendly or sustainable, landscapers need everyone on their team to be aware of goals. From the building design to planning to construction, let your objectives be ingrained in the project rather than implemented as an afterthought.

When working on a green space, all team members should be involved in sustainable projects. The more people there are to analyze landscaping plants and point out features that could be changed, the happier clients will be. This level of attention cannot be stressed enough. If everyone is on the same page, projects will go much more smoothly.

2. Prepare the Right Resources

To complete a landscaping project, your team needs a methodical approach. Developing a thorough game plan before work begins can help landscapers effectively manage their resources and decide what equipment is needed. The time frame and sustainability goals for a project can quickly get derailed if you're searching for resources at the last minute.

Talk about the different landscaping options for the project. After your initial consultation, be sure to outline what consultants, equipment and materials will be needed to meet your clients' expectations and estimate their costs. This level of care will help the project stay on track and on time, delivering on green innovation without creating unwelcome surprises.

3. Focus on Native Plants

Landscaping Tips for Eco-Friendly Designers

Many times, clients will want particular plants to be used, but that doesn't mean they're the best ones for that area. Native plants easily adapt to the environment and help the local insect and bee populations. They also won't need to be shipped in and fertilized as heavily as non-native plants, reducing their carbon footprint.

They're overall a better choice to go green, so landscapers should talk with future clients and other project stakeholders about comparable native plants to the ones they originally planned for. If a project has sustainable aims, then plant choice can make a significant difference on the space's ultimate ecological impact.

4. Minimize Water Usage

Landscaping Tips for Eco-Friendly Designers

New Century Garden by Steve Martino & Associates

Using less water is one of the more common ways building designers aim to go green. For the interior, low-flow faucets, energy management systems and energy-efficient appliances can do the trick, but landscaping is different.

Plants require certain amounts of water at specific times, and they won't thrive if it's reduced. If a client wants an environmentally friendly yard, encourage them to review a list of plants that require little watering. Desert plants are a great place to start, followed up by drought-tolerant plants. Clients don't have to stick with just cacti to not have to water their plants every day.

5. Reduce Lawn Size

Landscaping Tips for Eco-Friendly Designers

Philadelphia Navy Yards - Central Green by James Corner Field Operations

Grass lawns are typical landscaping choices, especially for businesses that have ample ground around their building. While they look nice, they require an inch of water per week to keep from drying out. Constant watering in the dry summer months is another way clients may not be as eco-friendly as they'd like.

Instead, try to reduce the lawn size. Cover bare dirt with pine straw or other dry materials that don't require watering. Not every client will prefer this option, but it's important to discuss if water conservation is at the top of their mind.

6. Incorporate Hardscapes

Landscaping Tips for Eco-Friendly Designers

Landscaping isn't just about plants. Another way to tackle sustainability is to incorporate more low-maintenance features. Hardscapes, like stone walkways or brick paths, limit the plants that are needed to fill a space. They require little upkeep and no watering. This could be a design option that changes how clients want their landscaping done, so it's important to bring it up as early as possible.

7. Layer Some Mulch

Landscaping Tips for Eco-Friendly Designers

Mulch is a key feature of eco-friendly lawn care that often gets overlooked. It may not seem to do much, but it helps conserve water and protect plants at the same time. If a client hasn't discussed using mulch in their landscaping, it's important to bring it up so they know how it can help them meet sustainable landscaping goals.

A layer or two of mulch prevents soil erosion and weed growth, all while shading the soil. Since the ground isn't directly exposed to the sun, it retains water for much longer. Mulch can also soak in water and help keep things moist. Plan to strategically utilize mulch for flowerbeds, trees and other plant life.

8. Plant Things Strategically

Sometimes all that's needed to go green is think things through. Research the plants that will be ordered by a client to learn where they grow best. It's also good to know the weather of the particular region before planting, so it's clear what to expect in terms of plant care and availability. A plant that requires little sunlight and watering will need extra care if placed in a hot, sunny spot.

Placement will also affect the overall sustainability goals of a given building. Planting shade trees strategically can help cool structures, reducing the need for energy expenditure indoors. When stakeholders make it a goal to go green inside and out, designers and landscapers can work together to create well-matched solutions.

Some landscaping projects have to be rushed. That's how business works. Even during the busiest projects, however, take time to set careful goals and coordinate your design aims with other stakeholders. Between collaboration and research into green initiatives, landscapers can come up with eco-friendly plans clients will be proud of.

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