Ask homeowners what they think a sustainable landscape is and you'll like get many differing opinions. Most likely, it will include a sparsely-planted landscape that is primarily rocks or gravel. In reality, a sustainable landscape is quite beautiful with flowering plants, trees, grasses and shrubs. Not only do they use less water, they can require less maintenance, invite beneficial pollinators like butterflies and birds, while still being visually aesthetic for the entire neighborhood. Regardless what zone you live in, a sustainable landscape is an upgrade without compromise. Want to know more? We caught up with Cynthia Bee of Jordan Valley Water Conservancy who shares her insights on how to take the leap towards sustainability in this interview and GILN podcast episode.
Dispelling the Myth - It isn't ZERO-scape
During a recent visit to Salt Lake City, UT for a garden conference, one of the most interesting educational sessions was "Selling Sustainable Landscapes". Fellow GardenComm member and Outreach Coordinator, Cynthia Bee of the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy, helps to educate home owners on what sustainable landscapes really look like. The term Xeriscape has been gaining in popularity in western states who deal with drought on an regular basis. However some homeowners, think it's called ZERO-scape and means they will have no landscape. It's unfortunate that a sound principle design has resulted in many perceiving a landscape such as this.
courtesy of Localscapes
In reality, a sustainable landscape can be lush, green, beautiful and functional. It's a fundamental shift for a homeowner to view landscape differently. Instead of making grass the predominant feature, it can be a smaller functional focal point. We've been ingrained to use lawn to achieve a beautiful landscape however Cynthia points out there are alternatives which JVWC promotes in their Localscapes program. Instead of looking sparse with no curb appeal, it can be dramatic and quite often considered an upgrade over a traditional landscape.
courtesy of Localscapes
Benefits of Upgrading to Sustainable Landscape
There are some obvious benefits to a sustainable landscape. First and foremost is saving water which is better for the environment and will save on your monthly water bill. Now if you live in an area where there is ample rain fall, a sustainable landscape can require less to maintain when done correctly. Cynthia shared an example of a homeowner who upgraded to a sustainable landscape that reduced the time to cut and maintain it, from 45 minutes to just 7 minutes! It also can provide a great habitat for wildlife including butterflies and birds. Other benefits include weed control. When you control the water, you can control the spread of weeds!
Getting from Traditional to Sustainable Landscapes
Cynthia outlined that many homeowners don't even realize they have a problem so it's difficult to sell them a solution they don't think they need. When you talk about conserving water, many homeowners think they are already conserving water inside their home, without thinking of the water being wasted in the landscape. Water use in a landscape can be up to 70% of their overall usage. Being able to show them they can still have the things that are important to them and changing what is less important, can have a huge impact. It's getting them to see landscape differently, and when they do, they will seek out new creative and sustainable elements.
Hear the Interview on the Green Industry Leaders Network Podcast
Whether you are a homeowner or a landscape contractor, Cynthia Bee shares some great insights on the JVWC program called Localscapes, on this episode. It's a great discussion that can change how you look at your landscape design. You can listen to the our complete interview and helpful information, 24/7 on the Green Industry Leaders Network podcast.