The same as: ‘Location is everything’ when we talk real estate, it also holds true for sustainable landscape design. A successful looking garden in Perth is going to need some very different elements to a garden in coastal Sydney. It all depends on where you are, your location, that determines the sensible use of local materials.
Some Common Denominators
Every landscape is unique. But to create a sustainable garden there are a few common aspects that apply. Things like:
- water usage
- native plants
- appropriate and well-designed irrigation
- the management of storm-water run off
- lawn reduction
are some of the elements to create a successful sustainable garden regardless of the customer or the climate.
The Right Plants
Whether the garden is built in Melbourne or Darwin, the main goal is to use plants that require small amounts of water. Just because you have drought tolerant plants doesn’t preclude you having a beautiful garden.
Saving on water costs makes simple, economic sense, especially in drought prone Australia where most cities have summer time water bans and restrictions in place. In cities like Perth, constant sunshine results in a lot of expense to keep high-maintenance gardens in top condition.
Can the work of a landscape designer keep a household’s water bill at a certain level per month? This request is possible by the clever use of plants that require little water, planting water-loving plants in the shade, and limiting the use of lawn to only the pool entry area, as an example. By installing a high tech irrigation system that monitors the weather and the humidity, you can introduce drip irrigation rather than a misty spray which can evaporate quickly. A good landscape designer makes water efficiency part of the basic service.
Low Maintenance Plants
You can enhance the sustainable garden design by planting lower-maintenance plants which also use less water. Native ground cover is also a great way to conserve water and keep the baking sun from drying the soil. Landscape design includes the use of existing soil, and by working with a soil lab, the soil can be changed rather than digging it up and replacing it. Architecturally developing a garden landscape means designing an area of plants that form a small ‘garden community’, not just planting trees and flowers. The change these days is towards a garden that readily supports the local flora and fauna.
Exotic Plant Use
That doesn’t mean you can’t use the occasional exotic plant. There are particular plants out there that are non-native, but adapt easily to drought conditions, salt, and high winds. It’s important that they are non-invasive.
The reduction of lawn is of paramount importance. Everybody loves the look of a beautifully manicured lawn, but they are high maintenance and high water usage. A better option is native grasses that require no watering at all. Sometimes to improve the aesthetics, some lawn is unavoidable, but it’s better used to break up different garden areas. Lawns are not yet on the way out, but as we develop smaller properties, they are becoming a luxury that homeowners can no longer afford.
A garden is not all about greenery either. There is always room for some creative hardscaping, especially when you are managing water runoff and retention. Pavers and certain gravels are better than concrete or pavement because the surfaces allow rain water to seep back into the ground. Pavers on top of gravel is a great alternative solution.