Sustainable Garden Landscaping

Sustainable Garden Landscaping

Sustainability means is to continue a specific behaviour for an indefinite period of time. Where it relates to the environment, it applies to conservation of soil, water and other resources without doing damage to those resources. Gardening and landscaping are an integral part of environmental sustainability. Sustainable gardening requires planning and forethought in the design stage in order to preserve waste water, prevent contamination and still get the most out of your garden.

Eco Friendly Gardens

In essence, an eco-friendly garden works with nature rather than against it. How do you work with nature when your typical garden tends to remove what was naturally in place in order to enrich the soil and grow the plants that you want to grow instead of what nature placed there? Here are some guiding principles for eco-friendly gardens:

  • Don't be wasteful. Use water in a way that allows you to get the most out of it without any evaporative or runoff waste. Recycle yard and garden clippings in compost along with plant-based scraps from your kitchen.
  • Do not harm plants and animals around you. Avoid using chemical fertilizers and refrain from putting in plant species that will wipe out other natural, plant and pest species. Pesticides and herbicides tend to kill a lot more than just those plants and pests that you're trying to get rid of.
  • Give back to the environment. By creating a garden habitat that is wildlife friendly, you attract birds, butterflies, lizards, ladybugs and other good critters that will help maintain your garden. Landscaping with plants, shrubs and trees that provide food is also eco-friendly.

Planning and Design

When planning and designing a sustainable garden, there are several ideas to keep in mind. Using the guiding principles of an eco-friendly garden, you can consider the following concepts as part of your garden and landscape design:

  • Use recycled materials for paths, borders, planting beds, compost bins and equipment storage.
  • Put in plants and grasses that are drought tolerant and require less water to keep them healthy.
  • Plant shade plants to provide natural shade for plants that thrive in the shade.
  • Make use of pebbles, gravel and other permeable paving instead of concrete or asphalt in your landscaping so that water can seep into the soil underneath rather than running off into the storm drains.
  • Water circulating fountains and ponds are attractive, but also provide habitat for wildlife.
  • Utilize mulching to keep the moisture locked into your soil, it discourages weeds and also enriches the soil with nutrients as it breaks down.

Irrigation systems

Irrigation systems in a sustainable garden are designed to get the most benefit out of the least amount of water. Here are several systems that help to preserve water, but still keep your plants thriving:

  • Drip irrigation. Drip systems save water, prevent soil erosion from runoff, discourage weeds, helps control fungal diseases in plants and are adaptable.
  • Programmable irrigation systems are eco-friendly because they can be programmed to water during the night-time and early morning hours when there is a lower percentage of water loss due to evaporation.
  • Stacked bed irrigation. Stacking plant beds and allowing water to flow or drip from one bed down to the next is a great way to get the most out of your irrigation.
  • Rain catching systems. There are a number of systems that can help you utilize rain water and snow melt as it runs off of your roof.

Sustainable plants and planting

We discussed using drought tolerant plants earlier, but there are several more sustainable plants that you could consider for in your garden and landscape design. When it comes to choosing the plants that you will use in your design, ask yourself these questions:

  • How much additional irrigation will the plant need in order to thrive in my climate?
  • What are the shade requirements of the plants?
  • What effect will the plant have on the surrounding environment?
  • Does the plant function as a natural pesticide or herbicide and will it attract beneficial insects and other creatures into my garden?
  • Can I use an edible plant, tree or shrub in place of a non-edible species?

Place plants with similar shade and water requirements together in order to get the maximum benefit of the conditions that they need to thrive.


Sustainable gardening and landscaping is being conscious of three underlying principles: don't waste, don't harm and give back to the environment around you. As you plan your garden and landscape design, keep these principles in mind in order to get the very most out of the land that surrounds your home.