Building Green: The way to Design a Healthier Landscape

Plant selection, water management, fire-prevention measures, and more can make sure that your landscape is nice for the earth and for you

In this segment of Building Green, landscapes take center stage as we investigate how you'll help make a difference toward a healthier planet. When planning or updating your landscape, there are some ways you'll be more environmentally considerate. You’ll wish to implement all or simply some of those ideas — anyone of them can make a difference when everyone contributes. It is often as simple as collecting rainwater during a barrel or as complex as installing sophisticated irrigation systems that you just control with a Smartphone. Below are a couple of ideas to spark your creative juices.

The Right Plants for Your Landscape
Your location will influence most of your decisions about what's suitable for your patch of land. Lush and green terrains just like the one within the Washington, D.C., area, above, have different considerations than a dry or drought-prone landscape just like the one in San Diego, below. But regardless of where you reside, some general rules of thumb apply.
Avoid invasive plants. watch out for trees that spread aggressive roots or shrubs which will grow overlarge for the situation during which you plant them.
Avoid plants that need excessive shearing. Landscape maintenance ultimately requires the utilization of tools and services that consume energy to urge the work done, whether that be workmen to drive to your location or equipment that burns fossil fuels.

Use native species. Most areas offer many choices in native planting material. You’ll want to use them for many if not all of your landscape. they're going to probably do better than non-native plants.
Use drought-tolerant plants. It’s especially important to use low-water plants within the Southwestern us. But drought-tolerant plants can save water and reduce your utility bill regardless of where you reside.

Natural Terrains

If you own an enormous property, you'll realize that you simply got to landscape only some of it. The residence above is on 6 acres of lovely land within the Texas Hill Country. the world is understood for its rolling hills and vistas across countryside crammed with cedar, mesquite, and an occasional large oak. These homeowners have left the grassland untouched. Doing this often yields extraordinary wildflowers, like bluebonnets, within the spring. the trail to the porch is modestly paved with random steppingstones, with grass growing between them to permit rainwater to soak in. an enthralling, rustically constructed low fence helps define the route


Most people are conversant in scenes on the news of California brush fires that sometimes consume many homes. But fire can strike anywhere.

In 2008, a wildfire began within the hills beyond this California suburban neighborhood. It lifted burning embers many feet above homes, a number of which ignited and were lost. On this street of about 50 houses, this was the sole one that burned. The scenario was repeated throughout the community, ultimately destroying about 200 houses. Here are a couple of steps to assist you to protect your home from fire:

Maintain a secure radius. Anything within 100 feet of your house that catches fire can easily spread to the underside of eaves, to patio structures, and too flammable material. Firewood stored within 30 feet of your house could also be a fireplace hazard. you'll not be ready to keep flammable material completely off your property, but keeping it as far away from the structure as possible is that the best alternative.
Choose fire-resistant plantings. Some sorts of plants, like eucalyptus, contain oils that are highly flammable. Avoid planting them if you reside in a fire-prone area. Space out trees in order that a gaggle doesn’t ignite into an outsized fireball.
Trim low-hanging branches. Fire can spread most quickly through dry grass and low brush. Cutaway low-hanging tree limbs to stop the straightforward spread of flames into higher foliage. Keep the comb clipped back also.
Keep roofs beyond debris. Leaves that collect and dry abreast of roofs and gutters are like kindling. Keep such surfaces beyond dried material 

While lawns are great in wet climates where rain keeps them browsing the summer, they still got to be clipped, fertilized, and kept freed from pests. That takes equipment and manpower. you would possibly consider leaving your landscape more natural.
In the l. a. yard at left, mulch, stone, and gravel beds combine in delightful variation, expressing the textures of the materials. the doorway walk maybe a flagstone path laid into the sand. Drought-tolerant succulents and cactuses round out the theme, while mature bougainvillea and trees are closely trimmed to figure out the new landscape.
Below, some of this garden in Boston has been reserved for a mulch bed with shrubs and flowering plants, instead of giving it everywhere to a standard lawn.
Avoid planting lawns on hillsides that slope quite 10% as they will be problematic. You’ll be ready to plant a hearty bed of ivy instead.

Shade Trees

keeping fire prevention in mind, you would possibly consider shade trees to guard your house against the sun within the summer, as this tree does at a replacement York residence, above. Deciduous varieties can serve a complementary purpose within the winter, as their lack of leaves allows the sun to warm the house during that point of the year. in additional temperate climates, consider tall species like Italian cypress to cast an extended shadow from the setting sun, for instance . they will also act as a visible screen, as seen with the San Francisco residence at left.


Construction projects are notorious for contributing to unwanted erosion. If you've got places where the grass doesn’t thrive, consider mulch as an alternate. Also, place mulch around new plantings therefore the soil stays in situ until the plants mature

Bees are essential to ecosystems across the earth. Protecting homes for them, birds, turtles and other creatures that inhabited your property before humans moved in is a component of the larger equation and deserves your attention also. Carefully research pest-control options to make sure that you’re supporting a healthy environment for all creatures — and your children.