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The purpose of this report is to review briefly the importance of landscaping sustainable and green cities. It analyzes the principles which are to achieve the goal of conserving water and energy. The concept of sustainability is about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own. For a long time, the environmental impact had been the main focus of many organizations craving a sustainability philosophy.


In today’s generation, “sustainability” and “green building” have many definitions in people’s minds.

There are many parts of a building that are built under the LEED standards that can be considered going green or building sustainably. Sustainability deals with our environment, our ecology, or even our economy, and although each help our nation and world in many ways, sustainability in landscaping incorporates all three into one. Sustainable landscaping is using the efficient planning of a landscape to help reduce the energy costs of a building, reduce water runoff, and overall help the performance of the building.

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With planners and designers using pervious surfaces and native plants around their buildings for shading and native plants on the roofs of their structures to help lower energy costs and runoff respectively, buildings can help the environment and the inhabitants of the building or structure in many ways. Landscapes of a building play a much larger role than most people in today’s world and can really have a positive overall effect in our future to come.

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What is Sustainable Landscaping?

Sustainable landscaping is the practice of using strategic methods for business and residential landscapes with the purpose of avoiding negative environmental impacts. As each region’s climate and soil quality varies, so do the methods used in sustainable landscaping. Water quality plants selected, and products such as fertilizers are selected with the goal of conservation, reducing chemical usage, and preventing erosion. Sustainable landscaping involves various areas and focuses on the original plan and design for landscapes as well as the construction stage. Additionally, environment-friendly methods are used for implementing a sustainable landscape as well as ensuring that it is ecologically maintained. With our green or sustainable landscapes, which are very beneficial to a building or structure, the structure itself may not live up to its full potential. Thompson and Sorvig (2007) claim how:

Sustainability is a framework, a systematic way of linking ourselves with the natural systems that support us. Without it, individual green buildings-will not add up to what is really wanted: a worldwide network of healthy places that sustain people and sustain themselves. (p. 3)

Principles of sustainable landscaping

The main goals of sustainable landscape design are to conserve water and energy, reduce waste and decrease runoff. In order to achieve these goals, residential gardens should treat water as a resource, value soil, preserve existing plants and conserve material resources.

  • Treat Water as a Resource

The demand for water is high. Wasteful irrigation is accountable for more than one-third of the residential water use. Also, rainwater is treated as waste and allowed to flow into gutters and sewers.

A sustainable landscaping approach would be to treat water as a valuable resource. If the proper design and plant selection is done, the need for irrigation can be reduced or eliminated. Moreover, rainwater harvesting can be used to capture stormwater on-site and use it for irrigation.

  •  Value Your Soil

There are more chances for your garden’s soil to be compacted. Compacted soil leads to problems such as limited plant growth, erosion, runoff, and flooding. Runoff caused by compacted soils is one of the main reasons for water pollution.

  • Preserve Existing Plants

Many owners want to remove all the plants from their property so that they can start with a clean area. Often this ends up doing harm because it disrupts the natural processes occurring in the yard.

A sustainable landscaping approach would be to assess the existing plant material and preserve native plants. Invasive and non-native plants should be removed and replaced with a more appropriate choice. Right plant and right place is a popular saying that should guide you in your plant selection.

  • Conserve Material Resources

The landscape produces huge amounts of the yard and construction waste. Additionally, many of the hardscape materials used are energy-intensive and transported hundreds or even thousands of miles. A sustainable landscaping approach would be to reduce yard waste by selecting appropriately sized plants and reusing and recycling construction waste. Furthermore, building materials should be carefully selected, using locally sourced materials whenever possible.

Features of sustainable landscaping

  • Sustainable Soils

Soil chemistry is one of the most important elements of a sustainable landscape. Sustainable soil will support healthy plant growth, absorb water, and filter pollutants. In heavily constructed urban areas existing soils must often be renovated to support a healthy landscape.

  • Add seasonal interest

Everybody loves a beautiful landscape. Be sure to add different varieties of plant types and other design elements to keep your landscape beautiful year-round. Working with bulbs, ephemerals, groundcovers, perennials as companions to your shrub layer and make a beautiful garden of even the smallest piece of land. Each season brings unique colors and textures to the landscape, so work with all these plant choices to create a harmony that people will appreciate.

  • Create bee and butterfly habitats

A great way to win the hearts of conservation organizations and community residents is to create habitats to support honeybees and butterflies – two major pollinators. Both species are endangered right now and as their numbers dwindle, many of our important crops are also threatened. Creating sustainable habitat for bees and butterflies supports other species as well, including birds and bats that devour insect pests such as mosquitos. All of this encourages a healthy, diverse environment.

  • Water Conservation

We all agree that water is our most precious natural resource. Water conservation is the planning, development, and distribution of the optimal use of water resources. Water conservation can save money by reducing construction costs and limiting potable water use. Water runoff is an important factor to consider when it comes to melding the built environment and natural landscapes if approaching with this naturalistic train of thought (Calkins 2011).

  • Irrigation

Irrigation is an integrated approach to designing, developing, and utilizing water resources for landscapes to meet present needs while preserving water resources for the future.

  • Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater harvesting helps reduce freshwater use in a landscape by catching rainwater and reusing it in areas such as irrigation. Reducing fresh, potable water use in the landscape helps to replenish local aquifers.

  • Rain Gardens

Rain gardens are low lying areas planted with water-loving plants that filters and absorb water, which reduces run-off to our waterways and storm drains.

  • Permeable Pavers

Permeable pavement allows rainwater to be absorbed back into the earth through the pavement rather than blocking storm drains that can cause flooding.

  • Green Roofs

Green roofs are vegetations planted on a roof which helps reduce stormwater run-off, giving buildings additional insulation that protects the roof. This helps reduce heating and cooling costs, cools ambient air, which adds to the overall value and extends the life cycle of a building.

  • Promote plant diversity

Utilizing native plants does not mean selecting one or two species and then planting your entire property with them. Plant diversity creates stability within the environment and your landscape. The more diversity, the more sustainability. Layers of various plant types provide you with color and vibrant plants throughout the year. When one species is dormant, another is active and thriving, helping you sustain a healthy and beautiful landscape. In Tara Armbruster’s article in “Greener Properties”, she talks about the advantages of a greener landscape to the residents of an apartment building and the cost-effectiveness of them with local and native plants. “In fact, about 94% of people surveyed said they liked low-maintenance landscapes- Choosing plants that are native to the area can reduce the amount of work required to keep them healthy, and this move would please 87% of the survey respondents [apartment residents], too” (Armbruster, 2013, p.1)

  • Xeriscaping.

A unique garden-style utilizing native plants, particularly popular in drought-stricken areas.

  • Bioswales

They are specially designed drainage ditches that make the most of rainwater by nourishing wildflowers and ornamental grasses while filtering the fallen water.

  • Green walls

It is a wall, either free-standing or part of a building, that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and, in some cases, soil or an inorganic growing medium. They are also referred to as living walls, bio walls, or vertical gardens.


Applying sustainable practices to the maintenance of a landscape greatly improves the health and appearance of a property while also reducing the long-term cost of maintaining the trees, shrubs, groundcovers, and turf. Examples of sustainable maintenance practices include but are not limited to managing grass clippings correctly (use of mulching mowers) produces less waste and requires even less water and fertilizer; eliminating invasive species, and dormant trimming of deciduous species reduces the amount of trimming with carbon-emitting machinery.

Advantages of sustainable landscaping

  1. Sustainable landscaping minimizes the area covered by water-repelling surfaces. This reduces the water runoff, subsequently maintaining the natural hydrologic cycle of the area.
  2. It promotes the use of long-lived, native or adapted non-invasive plants, which diminishes the need of using man-made chemical fertilizers.
  3. Sustainable landscaping supports local ecosystems.
  4. Promotes diversity for several living organisms. This strengthens the resilience of the ecosystem.
  5. Rebuilds soil structure and replenishes soil health.
  6. Integrates food production into the landscape.

Disadvantages of sustainable landscaping.

Green architecture may be a dream for most ecologists and environmentalists, but it also presents an obstacle in the industrial world. This is a very difficult task, as it requires the expenditure of many resources and investments. This is also one of the major problems that green architects face in order to fulfill the goal of reducing the impacts of constructions, which can only take place with the help of deforestation that has caused notable Ozone Depletion. Immense deforestation and human violations into various ecosystems, like the development of roads in the Amazon Rainforest, has caused environmental disruptions and has significantly increased the risks of endangering biodiversity. Moreover, building green structures also costs more as special equipment must be bought and maintained, hence people are not yet attracted to this type of system.

Design Ideas for sustainable landscaping

  1. Have a landscape. Plants – whether they are trees, shrubs, flowers, or lawns – are critical to our urban and suburban communities. Since the “green movement” is all about plants and the positive benefits they bring. They absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen; they shade and cool our neighborhoods; and they prevent erosion, reduce dust and filter water as it moves through the soil to the aquifer.
  2. Grow Plants in Pots. No space? No worries. If you only have a patio, deck or rooftop space for your outdoor living area, grow plants in containers. Grow flowers that attract and feed pollinators; grow vegetables or herbs. You can even use potted plants.
  3. Recycle/Compost. When you mow, leave the clippings on the lawn, a practice called grasscycling. The clippings decay very rapidly releasing the nutrients they contain to be reused by the lawn. You can reduce the need to apply fertilizer by ? to 1/3 by grasscycling. Additionally, you can also mulch light layers of leaves into your lawn and use heavier leaf coverings as mulch around plants.
  4. Conserve water. Collect roof runoff in a rain barrel and use this water for plants in pots or for flower beds. If you have an irrigation system, 1) inspect it regularly to see that all valves are working properly and heads are irrigating the landscape and not the driveway; 2) readjust the timing to match the season’s rainfall and plant needs; 3) install a rainfall sensor that will shut the system down if it rains; and 4) check the system’s uniformity and consider upgrading to a smart control system which will water when plants need it.
  5. Protect runoff water from plant debris and fertilizer nutrients. Leaves, grass clippings, and fertilizers contain nutrients that can damage lakes and ponds if not managed efficiently. After fertilizing, clean walks, streets and other paved surfaces of any fertilizer granules. When mowing, do not allow leaves or clippings to remain on paved surfaces; instead, sweep or blow the material back onto your landscape to recycle the nutrients.
  6. Encourage the use of reclaimed water. Using sanitized sewage water for irrigation of landscapes is a great way to conserve water as it greatly reduces the need to use potable water or well water for irrigation.
  7. Use fertilizers and pest control products carefully
  8. Choose the right products at the right rates at the proper time of year. When using such products, follow label instructions carefully. Do not assume that if a little does the job, more will do it better. Understand the products that you are using and make sure they can be effective for the task at hand. Landscape professionals are trained in using such products.
  9. Create a habitat for wildlife. By adding plants to create multiple levels of foliage and flowers that are attractive to pollinators, you can make your own mini wildlife conservation. Pollinators, birds and small animals like habitats where trees, shrubs and grasses create food and shelter.

Sustainable Features of a Smart House

Do you want to design a smart house which will not only be sustainable but also save cost in the long run? Here are some ways to design your house smartly:

  • Energy Conservation

“We used a geothermal system for heating and cooling,” says Schoenberg. “It is controlled by a specialized computer that optimizes production and output control, only producing the energy needed for the home at just the right times.”

Geothermal pumps use 25 percent to 50 percent less electricity than conventional systems, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That equates to an energy bill that is about 40 percent of a conventionally-run house’s bill, says Sabine. Plus, since there are no outside condensing units, like an air conditioner, you don’t have to worry about air pollution.

  • Water Conservation

“Out are the old irrigation systems where you have to set up certain zones, times and lengths of watering, or rain sensors that only know when it’s already rained,” says Schoenberg. “The smart irrigation system fine-tunes its watering to the amount of light and soil condition at each of its 16 zones, and responds to the local weather forecast, even before it rains.”

  • Solar Power

Solar panels aren’t possible for everyone, based on budget, time and regional climate. There are little ways, however, to incorporate efficient solar power into your home.

To conclude, sustainable landscaping is the strategic method of landscaping cities without having a negative impact on the environment. The main goals of sustainable landscape design are to conserve water and energy, reduce waste and decrease runoff. In order to achieve these goals residential gardens should treat water as a resource, value soil, preserve existing plants and conserve material resources. Some of the features of sustainable landscaping includes sustainable soils which means the chemistry of the soil is very important. Secondly, add seasonal interest which is to mix and match your plant types and other design elements to keep your landscape beautiful year-round.

Other features include creating bee and butterfly habitats, irrigation, rainwater harvesting, rain gardens, permeable pavers, promoting plant diversity, green walls and bioswales. Maintenance of a landscape greatly improves the health and appearance of a property while also reducing the long-term cost of maintaining the trees, shrubs, groundcovers and turf. Some of the advantages include minimizes the area covered by water-repelling surfaces, promotes the use of long-lived, native or adapted non-invasive plants, supports local ecosystems, rebuilds soil structure and integrates food production in the landscape. Its disadvantage is it requires the expenditure of many resources and investments.

Some of the design ideas for landscaping have a beautiful landscape, grow potted plants, recycle, conserve water, protect runoff water from plant debris and fertilizer nutrients, encourage the use of reclaimed water, usage of fertilizers and pest control products carefully and creating wildlife for habitat. Some ways to design your house smartly include water conservation, energy conservation and the use of solar power. I would like to recommend that sustainable landscaping should be implemented for a better and greener future.

Cite this page

The Importance Of Landscaping Sustainable. (2019, Dec 06). Retrieved from

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