Environmentally Friendly Landscaping Tips
Go Green With The Yard Fairy
Interested in learning about environmentally friendly landscape techniques?
Whether you are a resident of San Diego where we’ve been government-ordered to restrict water use, or simply a person who cares about conserving natural resources… we hope you find these tips helpful in creating a backyard oasis that is truly “green” in every sense of the word.
Take the Conservative Approach
Most of our landscaping clients contact us wanting to transform their yards into a picturesque and peaceful outdoor retreat where they can relax with family and friends. Many request colorful, drought-resistant plants that will require minimal upkeep as well as attract beneficial wildlife such as birds, butterflies and “good” insects. And nearly all would like to reduce their water use outside, lower their maintenance costs over the long term, and reduce or eliminate the use of herbicides or pesticides.
The Yard Fairy incorporates a basic philosophy into the work we do: blend a client’s needs and wants with sensitivity to the environment. Some suggestions on how to do this in your own yard:
Add plants, reduce your carbon footprint.
“Carbon footprint” is a trendy expression for the amount of greenhouse emissions caused by any one person, product or organization. Little lifestyle changes can add up to a big reduction in the amount of pollution or waste you contribute to. Did you know that plants absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen? Placing them in and around your home can improve the quality of the air and water consumed by you and your family.
Choose the right plant for the right place.
Have you ever planted what you thought was a small plant, only to have it triple in size in a short amount of time, crowding out your other plants and disrupting the continuity of your landscape? What about planting certain flowers in a sunny spot, only to watch them wither and die later because it turned out they were shade-loving specimens?
There are many factors to consider when planning your landscape design. By taking into account such things as mature size, water, soil, light, foliage, color, form and fragrance, we reduce the need to replace and/or relocate those plants later. Proper planning cuts down on longer term maintenance needs. (Think gas powered blowers, hedge trimmers, and pickup trucks; plus trips to the landfill, and especially the cost of paying the ‘mow, blow and go’ guys.)
Select permeable materials for your walkways, patios and paths.
Permeable walkways and patios allow rain water to be captured by the soil and returned to our aquifers. There, it will be purified, rather than shipped out to our ocean full of pollutants where it would create problems for the marine life.
Strategically locate your plants, trees and shrubbery to encourage solar cooling.
In areas like San Diego where the sun bakes us in our own homes, it’s a smart idea to locate shade-producing plants on the south and west sides. Blocking out the sun’s rays can be highly effective in reducing the buildup of heat indoors. Less heat means less use of air conditioners and fans, and lower energy bills.
Locally source your landscaping materials.
Do you know how far your ornamental rock or stone has had to travel to get to your yard? What environmental impact is the harvesting of that rock having? As transportation costs rise, it makes much more sense to source materials locally, and recycle where possible.
Planning makes all the difference.
By designing the landscape correctly on paper, The Yard Fairy is able to provide cost savings and lower maintenance to our clients. We take the time to chose the right plants for the right spots, and to obtain the correct size of non-living hardscape areas. We then employ a range of techniques to improve soil quality and increase irrigation efficiency. The resulting landscapes are a pleasure to be in, and form an oasis for our clients in their busy lives.
Augment the existing soil with organic matter.
Yes, you can cultivate beautiful plants in arid climates such as San Diego. The key is in the soil preparation. At The Yard Fairy, we teach our clients that the basis for a fertile planting ground is already present in their yards. The trick is to prep the soil for planting, using a mix of existing topsoil and locally sourced compost and mulch. This gives the plants a head start on growth and helps them thrive while fighting off disease and pest infestation.
The benefits of mulch are numerous. Mulch is more absorbent than the soil itself, so water can be applied quicker and for longer without the risk of runoff or evaporation. Mulch also suppresses weeds. Most weed seedlings are simply not strong enough to push their way through 2-3″ of mulch before they get to sunlight. Finally, over time your organic mulch will break down and become part of the soil, thereby improving it even more. Mulch all planters and planting areas, preferably with an organic, wood chip mulch.
Incorporate smart irrigation techniques.
Convert your irrigation to a modern drip system that delivers water directly to the soil at a much lower application rate. Replace older spray nozzles with rotating nozzles to save water. You can also install a ‘smart’ irrigation controller that automatically adjusts the watering schedule based on local weather conditions. These smart controllers may deliver as much as 59% savings (based on a trial conducted by the Santa Barbara County ET Controller Distribution and Installation Program, June 30, 2003).