The Good and Bad of Sustainable Landscaping

Let’s face it.  Today, people have a greater understanding of our impact on the environment.  Humans are ingenious at devising machines and chemicals to make life easier, whether it’s the invention of automobiles or preservatives to make our food last longer, but they can come with a cost such as pollution or depletion of resources.  Everywhere you look there are modern conveniences, often with environmental consequences of their own.  

Landscaping is no different.  A beautiful, lush green landscape often comes with the use of chemicals and gas-powered equipment.  While it can be done responsibly by using propane-powered mowers that release 50% fewer greenhouse gas emissions like we do at Bluegrass and by using only the amount of fertilizers or prevention that is necessary, but more and more people are turning to Sustainable Landscaping to lessen their impact on the environment.  

What is Sustainable Landscaping?

Sustainable Landscaping utilizes techniques that do not have a negative effect on the environment.  It’s a more natural approach to landscaping.  By looking at the demands of the individual environment, Sustainable Landscaping provides solutions without using harsh or synthetic chemicals or heavy gas-powered equipment.  Sustainable Landscaping can have different areas of focus depending on climate.  For instance, desert or drought-prone climates may focus on water conservation by planting water-resistant plants and collecting water runoff for watering.

The Good

Sustainable Landscaping conserves natural resources, reduces air and soil pollution, and reduces the negative impact on the environment.  There are several ways this is done:

  • Using non-invasive and native plants. Plants that are native to an area will always grow more successfully.  Insects, birds, and butterflies rely on native plants and you can even choose plants that are natural insect repellants so you won’t have to use a lot of chemical pest controls.  Native plants are usually perennial and will use fewer resources than those that have to be planted every year and they require less water than non-native plants.
  • Harvesting rainwater.   Capturing rainwater or roof runoff for watering plants is an excellent way to preserve water resources.  If done correctly, a Sustainable Landscape will require little or no extra water.
  • Saves on resources which can cut costs.  By not using as much water and other resources, and by not having as much turf area or plants that require extra care, a sustainable landscape can cut costs.     

The Bad

While Sustainable Landscaping certainly has its benefits, it also has its drawbacks, especially when creating and maintaining a manicured-looking commercial property.

  • It usually involves little or no lawn.  True Sustainable Landscapes have little or no turf that requires mowing.  The more lawn you have, the more resources and work need to go into it to keep it trimmed and green.  
  • Weed control is time-consuming.  Pulling weeds by hand can be effective, but it requires a lot more time and work than using weed control products.
  • Plants look wild.  Native plants tend to look unruly, and when flowers aren’t blooming, they can look like weeds.  
  • Controlling pests is more difficult.  The goal of Sustainable Landscaping is to create an ecosystem that sustains itself, and insects are a part of that cohesion.  Some insects cannot be eliminated naturally and sometimes the natural and organic alternatives aren’t as quick and effective as their chemical counterparts.
  • Native plants can be more work.  Because native plants grow well in their native environment, they usually need to be trimmed and pruned more often than non-native plants.  
  • Native plants can actually cost more.  Native plants are harder to find at nurseries, even local ones, so they can be more expensive.
  • Design is limited.  Because native plants are harder to find, your landscaper will have fewer to choose from.  With native flowers, you are limited to the color selection that’s available as well.  
  • They’re not maintenance-free.  In a truly Sustainable Landscape, there is little maintenance required, but commercial properties should look neat and manicured, not wild.  Achieving this will require maintenance.

At Bluegrass Landscaping and Maintenance, we believe in doing our part for the environment and incorporating eco-friendly practices whenever we can.  From those propane lawn mowers to our solar-powered offices to our fleet of fuel-efficient Ford Fusions, we believe that being as eco-friendly as possible is an important part of our company’s mission—not only to better represent our industry but to also better serve our clients.

By incorporating some Sustainable Landscape practices along with traditional techniques, we can create a beautiful landscape design that will give your property a professional look while being healthier and more eco-friendly.  Call Bluegrass Landscaping and Maintenance today at (314) 770-2828 to find out how.