Sustainable landscaping may sound trendy, but the truth is that the concept has been around for a long time. It’s just not been very well implemented by many landscapers. Unfortunately, in our business there are many who will force their vision on an outdoor space without much thought as to the strain it puts on the environment and high requirement for resources.
Sustainable landscaping is a way to design your yard that does not cause any harm. It is a way to design your yard that improves your outdoor surroundings while working to enhance the overall health of the environment. The Oxford Dictionary defines sustainable as, “Avoiding the depletion of natural resources.” That is exactly what sustainable landscaping aims to do. It can range from doing your best to avoid using pesticides that can get into our groundwater to planting a garden using only native species.
Here are some ways we can incorporate sustainable landscaping practices into your property’s design.
Canada’s Indigenous Peoples knew all about companion planting, and it’s one of the ways they were able to grow food successfully in often harsh conditions. Companion planting is the practice of placing plants so they will help each other grow and thrive. Examples may be planting marigolds among your vegetable to help repel aphids, beetles, and ants, or putting mint with your lettuce to help fend off annoying slugs. For perennial and annual gardens, consider placing geraniums near your roses, as their smell helps keep pests away. Daises and petunias do well together, too, as they like the same kind of soil. Companion planting should help reduce the amount water and pesticides needed to keep a garden healthy.
Mulch works wonderfully, especially in Calgary’s unpredictable weather. It’s also an essential component of sustainable gardening. Mulch acts as insulation, forming a protective barrier between your soil and the air. It’s a temperature regulator, keeping the soil warm during the winter and cool in the summer. Mulch also prevents weeds from coming up by depriving them of the light they need to thrive, and stops new weeds from being brought in by the wind and other germinators. Basically, it’s like a shield from weed seeds.
You can also save on water with mulch. It provides shade for your soil, which keeps water from evaporating too quickly on sunny or windy days. As moisture sticks around for longer, you don’t have to water as much. Organic mulches such as cedar chips and bark mulch help provide organic matter and nutrients to the soil.
There is a movement towards using more plants native to Alberta as well as allowing parts of yards and properties to “go natural,” such as creating a pretty little meadow. You don’t have to give up your lawn entirely, but if you have a space that’s not being used to its full potential – whether because it’s too sloped, too sunny, too close to a road, and so on, it may be perfect for a meadow. Create a meadow by digging out all the grass in the area to provide fresh soil ready for natural seeds to be scattered. Some Alberta nurseries such as Wild About Flowers in Black Diamond focus solely on native species.
Natural areas are also excellent at attracting pollinators such as bees, which are vital to Canada’s food chain. If we all converted just one-quarter of our yard space into a natural meadow, we could provide 14,400 hectares of habitat for pollinators.
Planting for food
It makes perfect sense that sustainable landscaping includes a planting for food component. More and more Calgarians are including vegetable and herb gardens in their landscaping, and finding it surprisingly easy to grow a large variety of foodstuffs that can go straight from the garden to the table ― with a little washing, of course. Not only that, but backyard vegetable gardening teaches children the value of the food they consume, allowing them to see exactly what it takes to go from mere seeds to a feature on their plates.
There are a lot of different types of vegetables – and herbs – that grow well in the city and add variety to your diet. Some vegetables we suggest trying out are beets, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, kale, lettuce, onions, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach, squash and tomatoes.
Use less water
The initial work it takes to install underground irrigation pays off great dividends in the end. Modern sprinkler systems are installed with sophisticated control units that can be programmed to deliver a set amount of water at a specific time in the ideal amount for the needs of your garden or lawn. Systems can be installed with a number of different zones that use different types of sprinklers to more effectively deliver water. Rain sensors will also stop your system from watering when it is not needed.
Calgary’s Mirage Landscaping specializes in custom landscaping
Mirage Landscaping provides affordable and professional lawn and garden landscaping services as well as landscape construction services throughout the Calgary area. You can also count on us for landscape design and construction services that add value to any home.