What’s Next in Sustainable Landscaping? 5 Trends to Follow
There’s no doubt about it: sustainability is becoming more and more important in nearly every sector. From investing in green technology to simply recycling household plastic, people everywhere are placing a much higher emphasis on ensuring they’re living an eco-friendly lifestyle.
Home and garden landscaping has not been left behind in the shift to sustainability. More and more, homeowners are focusing on ensuring that their backyards are not only beautiful, but are environmentally-friendly. In fact, according to the American Society of Landscape Architects’ annual survey, 9 out of 10 landscaping trends with the highest consumer demand are related to eco-friendly landscaping practices.
While there are thousands of ways to reduce the environmental impact of your garden, there are several sustainable design choices that have come to the forefront of landscaping today. Let’s take a look at 5 of the top trends in sustainable landscaping – what are they and just why are they becoming so popular?
1. No Lawn, No Problem
Imagine a house, any house. Now imagine its front yard. Does your imagined house have a grassy, green lawn? Odds are high that it does, as grass lawns have truly become a quintessential feature of most homes in the United States. In fact, 81% of all Americans had a lawn making up a total of around 40 million acres of lawn in the United States alone.
Unfortunately, grassy lawns are not the most eco-friendly choice. All of the lawns in the United States require 3 trillion gallons of water each year, 59 million pounds of pesticides each year, and 3 billion gallons of gasoline (used for lawn maintenance equipment like lawn mowers).
While a beautifully-maintained grassy lawn used to be a status-symbol, today, many Americans are turning to other, less environmentally-harmful lawn alternatives. While many gardeners are simply ditching the lawn and planting native plants instead, others are investing in synthetic lawns due to their many benefits. For example, a leading landscape designer in San Jose, California explains that synthetic grass requires low maintenance, no water, and maintains its beautiful green color all year round – even if you live in a drought-prone area like California.
Finally, if you just can’t get rid of the grass, consider a low-mow or no-mow grass like fescue mixes or other native grasses. These require far less maintenance, as well as far less water and fertilizer.
When it comes down to it, all of these eco-friendly options still provide the same opportunities for picnicking, playing, and lounging around as the traditional grass lawn – and at a reduced cost.
2. Solar Lighting
Every year, lighting consistently ranks in the top three most popular outdoor design elements. While traditional backyard lighting can guzzle electricity quickly, solar lighting represents a promising solution that is not only better for the environment, but also saves homeowners money by lowering your electricity bill.
It’s unsurprising that solar lighting has taken off in popularity in the last ten years. Not only can solar lighting provide a magical quality to your garden or patio, but it’s incredibly easy to install. In fact, many solar lights don’t even require any wiring – all you need to do is place it where you want it, and, voila! You’ll have gorgeous lighting year-round. From ground lights to string lights to flood lights, there’s a solar option that will fit your landscape design needs.
3. Plants for Pollinators
Pollinator-friendly gardens are truly trending. Internet searches for pollinator-friendly plants have increased by over 170% since 2015, and garden centers nationwide have reported an increase in demand for these plants. It’s no wonder that so many of us care about pollinators; whether we’re aware of it or not, we all depend on pollinators to live.
Pollinators like bees, monarch butterflies and other insects are crucial for helping vital crops to grow. Unfortunately, many pollinators today are threatened by pesticides and a reduction in nesting sites, and neaerly 40% of insect pollinators are at risk of extinction. By planting pollinator-friendly plants in your garden, you can help protect endangered pollinators and make a positive impact – all while beautifying your yard.
Today, over 8 million people have planted pollinator-friendly gardens to help create more pollinator habitats. While the exact plants you should choose depend on your location, pollinator gardens are sure to add color and vibrancy to your yard.
The best plants for pollinator-friendly gardens include the beautiful yellow Goldenrod, the purpley-pink Coneflower (also known as Echinacea) and the aptly-named Butterfly Bush, whose bright purple or white blooms attract butterflies and hummingbirds alike.
4. Permeable Hardscapes
Hardscape, parts of the landscape that are solid, like gravel, paving or stones, typically provide shape and character to a yard and can act as the guiding layout for your yard’s design as a whole. Unfortunately, many types of paving trap water on the surface, leaving it to run off into natural waterways, bringing harmful contaminants with it.
Permeable pavers to the rescue! Permeable paving, pavers that allow rainwater to seep through the paved area, are quickly becoming more popular with homeowners and businesses alike. In fact, permeable paving has consistently ranked in the top three most popular sustainable design elements.
Permeable pavers work to replenish precious stores of groundwater, to increase soil moisture in dry areas, and to drain water before it can become stormwater runoff and bring pollutants to waterways. Lower amounts of stormwater runoff also helps prevent flooding and erosion in nearby wetlands and waterways. What’s more, permeable pavers are often also made of recycled materials, helping to keep materials out of landfills.
5. Rain Harvesting
Finally, rain harvesting is becoming ever more popular as droughts and low-precipitation years become ever more frequent. Rainwater harvesting, or the collecting of rainwater for reuse, helps to save water, making more efficient use of a limited natural resource, while also reducing stormwater runoff.
There are a number of different landscape design methods that harvest rainwater. For example, many homeowners choose to simply collect water from their gutters and store it in a water tank for use in drier seasons. Others choose to combine permeable pavement with rainwater harvesting systems, while still others choose to build rain gardens, a depressed area of ground that collects rainwater.
In a rain garden, the plants growing in the area, often native plants, take up water and filter pollutants, while the soil helps to capture water on the property, rather than allowing it to run off. Today, rain gardens are extremely popular, ranking among the top 10 landscaping projects with the highest consumer demand.
It truly comes as no surprise that the top landscaping design trends are also sustainable, as sustainable options are also often the most functional and wallet-friendly. In addition, choosing eco-friendly options doesn’t mean sacrificing beautiful design – as we’ve seen above, green landscaping can often bring added beauty and appeal to your yard, from twinkling solar lights to bursting blooms of pollinator-friendly plants. For all these reasons and more, we can be sure that these sustainable landscaping trends will only continue to grow in popularity.