Green to Natural Landscaping? Try This Guide 

Guide to green and natural landscaping.
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Guide to green and natural landscaping. Image iStockphoto

Reading Time: 4 minutes

If you’re a newbie to the gardening world, rejoice. You don’t have any bad habits to unlearn — you can choose the most sustainable practices from the get-go. Mother Nature knows better than humans, and natural landscaping is best, from ease of work to kindness to the planet. However, where and how should you begin?

This guide tells you the basics you need to know to landscape your property beautifully. It doesn’t matter if you’re green to natural landscaping — here’s how to start your growing adventure.

Start by Planning Your Layout 

When creating a natural landscape from your home, your first order of business is to plan your layout. Think of yourself like an architect at the drawing board. Sketch the dimensions of your property and get creative.

What if you have never designed a landscape before? Everyone has to start somewhere, but don’t stress. You can find free software and apps that make your job easier, and you can scrap and restart your plans as often as you like until you get the outline of your dreams.

1. Preserve the Natural Elements You Can 

Your first step in natural landscaping is to avoid disturbing the plants you want to keep. After all, those existing on your property have proven their ability to thrive in your climate zone. For example, trees can cost a small fortune to remove and provide a world of good, purifying the air and providing habitats for living creatures. Unless they threaten to fall on your home, leave them standing.

However, you’ll need to remove debris, which can be backbreaking. Consider renting a small utility trailer to haul away waste. The single-axle variety won’t affect your gas mileage too much, and the less fuel you use, the fewer emissions you create.

2. Work With the Lay of the Land

Natural landscaping means making the highest use of preexisting elements on your property. For example, slopes create issues with water flow and erosion and come in three grades:

  • Less than 33%: Mulch and groundcover do the trick.
  • 33% to 50%: Plant deep-rooted vegetation and use an erosion blanket with drip irrigation to prevent soil erosion.
  • Higher than 50%: Best for terrace gardening and a retaining wall to prevent excess moisture from flowing toward your home’s foundation.

To preserve your soil, determine the degree of your slope and plant accordingly. Natural landscaping demands working with preexisting features to protect the Earth, not battle it into submission.

3. Xeriscape

Xeriscaping refers to using native plants instead of a traditional lawn. It’s fabulous for conserving water and other resources.

These species have a proven track record of thriving in your climate, meaning they need about as much care as a forest. Kick your lawnmower to the curb, reclaim your Saturday afternoons and do the planet a favor by adopting this landscaping style.

What do you use if you don’t plant grass? Talk to your local nursery. They can point you toward native groundcovers or you can use decorative stone to create landscape features.

Make Best Use of Natural Resources 

One of the best aspects of natural landscaping is you don’t have to spend a small fortune at the nursery. This style encourages you to use the planet’s resources better. After all, plants have flourished long before humans existed and will continue to sprout long after they disappear.

What can you do to make your natural landscaping sustainable and green? Try these tips.

1. Collecting Rainwater 

You can begin by collecting rainwater, assuming doing so is legal in your jurisdiction. While it’s okay in most places, check to stay on the right side of the law.

Assuming you won’t get in trouble, a barrel or cistern can collect rainwater for you. Your system may be as simple as placing the container beneath your rain spout to catch what falls on your home to water your garden. However, some folks go wild with complete filtration systems that purify the water, ensuring a drinking supply if their usual one dries up.

2. Composting

Composting serves a dual purpose:

  • It provides rich nutrients for your plants while protecting against moisture loss in the soil.
  • It keeps your organic waste out of landfills, where anaerobic conditions produce methane emissions.

Everything breaks down eventually, but for organic matter to become nutrient-rich once again, loamy soil, it requires oxygen. How can you do this?

The easiest way is to construct a container to hold your organic waste. You can also buy commercial compost bins, but then you miss out on the DIY fun. Pick up some pallets from your local hardware store to get many of the materials you need for free.

Then, learn what you can include. In general, it’s easier to remember what you shouldn’t put in your compost bin:

  • Meat: Meat products produce bacteria when it breaks down, which can contaminate the soil.
  • Carnivorous animal waste: Don’t fling your dog’s poop in the compost bin. It also contains harmful bacteria.

You can include the following:

  • Plant-based food scraps, including peels, seeds you don’t save — more on that in a bit — and stems
  • Eggshells
  • Used paper towels 
  • Newspapers
  • Non-glossy shredded paper
  • Unbleached coffee filters and tea bags with no staples or plastic
  • Lawn waste

Some people divide their compost into browns and greens. Why? That leads to the next natural gardening tip.

3. Mulching 

Mulch is a slightly thicker layer of wood chips, pine needles and other natural materials that keep moisture from evaporating from the soil. If you use a dual compost bin, your yard scraps can go into this container to create it. You use the same process, but you don’t need to let the material break down completely — as long as you stick to yard scrap only.

Helping Your Garden Grow Naturally

The last things you need for natural landscaping are the plants. Even people who xeriscape with decorative stone need a few growing things to complete the aesthetic.

Your nursery is your best bet for ground covers and ornamentals native to your region. You might not need to invest much if you saved the trees and bushes on your property before you began your landscape design. That’s one reason planning is so fundamental.

If you plan on growing a sustainable food garden, save the seeds from the produce you already eat. You’re sure to enjoy what you raise. The seeds you get from store-bought produce are hybrids, meaning next season’s fruit might not resemble the parent much in size or taste. Toss the yuck and don’t save the seeds from such plants.

Once you establish a few plants you like, save your seeds from only those displaying the desired characteristics. These then become heirlooms, producing a predictable harvest year after year once you breed out the genetic defects.

Starting Your Natural Landscaping Journey Right

Natural landscaping saves you time and money. It’s also kind to the planet, but newbies might struggle to start.

Use the above tips as your beginner’s guide to natural landscaping. Once you master the basics, there are no limits to beautifying your property and making your gardens grow.

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for exclusive content, original stories, activism awareness, events and more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Support Us.

Happy Eco News will always remain free for anyone who needs it. Help us spread the good news about the environment!