Eco-landscaping includes a number of practices that are easy on the environment and your pocketbook. It includes designing your yard to conserve water, using selective plantings, collecting rainwater, watering wisely, home composting, mulching, grasscycling and using a push or electric mower.
Eco-landscaping reduces waste, fertilizer and chemical needs, conserves water and saves money through reduced energy and yard maintenance costs. It also reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions responsible for climate change.
Xeriscape – Low-maintenance landscaping
Xeriscape landscaping is designing your yard and garden specifically to conserve water.
Xeriscape is coined from the Greek word “xeros,” meaning dry, and “scape,” meaning a kind of view or scene. You might take Xeriscape landscaping to imply a dry and uninteresting garden; however, in practice quite the opposite is true.
Whether you are developing a Xeriscape landscape from scratch or modifying a traditional garden, the same basic principles apply.
Design for water conservation
Incorporate native, drought-resistant plants, practical turf areas and mulches into your landscape. Place plants with the same watering and care requirements together to increase survival rate and reduce maintenance requirements.
Reduce our lawn
Minimize your lawn by incorporating different purpose areas such as patios and rock gardens. Use various shapes and colours of rocks and gravel combined with drought-resistant shrubs, flowers and evergreens to create interest.
Use Selective Plantings
Evergreens along the north and west sides of your home provide shelter against winter winds. Deciduous trees on the south side shade your home in the summer while still letting the sunshine in during the winter.
More than half of the water applied to lawns and gardens can be lost to evaporation and run-off due to over-watering.
Overwatering is not only a waste of water, it encourages excessive growth, depleting the lawn’s energy reserves and disease resistance. It can create high moisture and surface humidity, ideal conditions for fungal pathogens.
Water early in the morning, after the dew has dried to reduce losses to evaporation.
Apply single deep waterings (25 mm/1 inch once every 7 – 10 days) rather than several light waterings. Light, frequent watering encourages shallow roots making lawns more sensitive to drought and soil compaction. An empty tuna can works as an easy measure. Most hoses provide 6.4 mm (one-quarter inch) to 8.5 mm (one-third inch) of water per hour.
Stop watering when runoff occurs; especially on slopes or dry compacted soil. Cycling water on and off in these areas avoids wasting water and gives your lawn a better watering.
Reasons to Xeriscape:
- Conserves water
- Requires less pruning and maintenance
- Provides lots of attractive planting options
- Thrives with little fertilization
- Minimizes pest and disease problems
Use a cistern or rain barrel to capture and store rainwater for irrigation. It reduces stormwater runoff and the GHGs associated with drinking water. Make sure your barrel is covered with a tight-fitting lid or screen to keep disease-carrying mosquitoes from breeding there. For detailed savings and GHG emission reductions associated with using rainwater for outside watering, see Rain Barrel calculations.
Use an Electric or Push Mower
Consider replacing your gas mower with an electric model (there are even cordless electric mowers on the market now). Electric mowers require no gas or oil, release no fumes and are much quieter than gas mowers. A typical gas-powered mower produces 48 kilograms of GHG emissions in a season and as much air pollution as a car driven 550 kilometres.
Another option is to purchase a new push reel mower. The new ones are about half the weight (and easier to push) than the old models and require no electricity or gasoline so they are good for your health and the environment.