Now more than ever, people are looking for sustainability in their landscape design. In recent years, as we become more aware of the damage we’re doing to our natural environment, people are looking for ways to better attune their homes and outdoor spaces with the natural elements. No matter where you live, there are simple, and affordable, methods for making your green space even greener.
One of the most effective ways to make your landscape sustainable is by planting native trees, shrubs, and flowers as much as possible. These types of plants increase biodiversity, making your yard more habitable to a host of plants, animals, and insects, and costing less in the long run through fewer maintenance and chemical costs. Here, we take a look at some of the most popular reasons for using native landscaping techniques to make your outdoor space more sustainable.
LESS PESTICIDES AND FEWER CHEMICALS
By using native plants and trees for your landscaping needs, you’ll not only help save the environment, but you’ll save on overall costs, too. Native trees and plants have evolved to succeed in their particular climates, so they require far less on pesticide and chemical costs. Even though some chemical solution might seem like a quick fix to rid your yard of crabgrass, the chemicals don’t simply go away and can pollute other plant life or seep into the groundwater as runoff.
Biodiversity refers to the abundance and variety of life on our planet. From humans all the way down to single-celled amoeba, biodiversity is critical for the long-term health of our planet and all its inhabitants. Promoting biodiversity on your property by using native plants can have a positive effect on the animals and insects in your environment. Birds will naturally flock to plants and seeds they’re accustomed to, and depending on where you live, a native landscaping yard could even attract deer, elk, foxes, or rabbits.
Habitat loss is one of the leading factors that harm plant and animal life. The more we develop, the less space they have available. Some animals, especially larger mammals like elk, need long ranges to graze and roam. Destroying habitat reduces food sources for plants, insects, and wildlife, but by using native plants for your yard, you can offer a valuable source of food and protection for local creatures.
ENSURE WATER QUALITY
Water quality is one of the most important environmental factors for any region. Even if your property is far from the coasts or other large body of water, groundwater is susceptible to pollutants and the groundwater table can weaken if too much water is drawn from it.
Native plants can also be effective in preventing runoff and erosion. When natural areas are developed, they lose the ability to retain rainwater in the soil, which can lead to severe flooding. More native trees, plants, and shrubs strengthen the soil with their roots and creates a more stable and sustainable yard.
WISE, NOT WILD
To many people, envisioning a “natural” landscaping area is overgrown weeds, wild bushes, and an untamed wilderness. This, of course, isn’t truly the case as a native and natural landscape can be just as aesthetically pleasing as the most well-manicured lawn. Remaining wild is part of the appeal, but sustainable landscaping is really all about choices—choosing to use native plants and trees that will adapt and thrive better in the local environment. You can, of course, still make design choices, such as walkways, gardens, or even a pool, but selecting the right types of flora can make all the difference in letting your yard thrive.
FIT IN WITH YOUR NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
Last but not least, using native plants, trees, and flowers can simply make your landscape look gorgeous. Regardless of where you live, there’s no need to sacrifice aesthetics when using native plants—they’ll fit in more naturally with the surrounding environment and make your yard, no matter how large, look like it fits right in. Native plants can make crafting a gorgeous outside area much easier, less costly, and hassle free because these plants and trees can maintain themselves.
NATIVE PLANTS FOR LANDSCAPING IN COLORADO
Of course, the types of native plants and trees you can utilize for your landscaping project depends entirely on where you live. The local environment, including factors like temperature, precipitation, and even wind, influence what types of plants do well and thrive.
Additionally, you want to keep your own mini environment in mind, too. Living in rural areas, compared to cities or the suburbs, can affect which types of native plants and trees will do well for your project. For example, aspen trees grow wonderfully in the higher elevations in the Colorado mountains, but struggle in the lower quality soil of neighborhoods or cities.
Using Colorado as an example, here’s a list of some native shrubs, grasses, and plants that can be perfect for your landscaping needs.
- Wax Currant
- Mountain Mahogany
- Sage Brush
- Three-Leaf Sumac
- Rabbit Brush
- Western Sand Cherry
- June Grass
- Arizona Fescue
- Indian Rice Grass
- Big Blue Stem
- Colorado Blue Spruce
- Ponderosa Pine
- Douglas Fir
- Bristlecone Pine
- Lodgepole Pine
- Gambel Oak
- Rocky Mountain Juniper
- Colorado Male Fern
- Autumn Fern
- Western Sword Fern
- Giant Chain Fern
CONCLUSION – HOW DOES NATIVE LANDSCAPE CONTRIBUTE TO SUSTAINABILITY?
Our planet is in the midst of multiple threats. With wildfires, more powerful hurricanes, and the effects of climate change, we need to do all that we can to protect our natural spaces and all its inhabitants. While no single person (or landscaping project) can save the world, we can all do our part to make a local impact. By choosing a landscape architect who knows how to work with native plants, trees, and shrubs for your outdoor living space, you can promote water quality, build biodiversity, and reduce the need for chemicals and pesticides. Not only that, but your yard will look great with the beauty and diversity of native plants.