How to Design Your Landscaping to Benefit the Local Ecosystem
Your lawn and garden are a micro-ecosystem teeming with life. Whether you know it or not, plants, insects, and wildlife in your area rely on sustainable gardening to help them to survive and thrive. There are many things that homeowners can do to encourage a greener and healthier environment right in their own gardens. From promoting biodiversity and recycling water to implementing eco-friendly composting methods, this guide offers some helpful tips that will show you how to design landscaping that provides essential benefits to the ecosystem in your neighborhood.
Biodiversity creates healthy conditions for various insects, plants, and animals to thrive. Here are some ways to promote biodiversity within your landscape design.
- Look for native plants, flowers, and vegetables that will thrive in your specific climate, and plant them in your lawn and garden. Using local plants will help to support plants and wildlife in your area while creating a scenic outdoor living space.
- Promote biodiversity by planting bee-friendly and other pollinator-friendly plants and flowers and adding a bee box to your yard that gives beneficial bees a safe shelter and a place to stay.
- Protect the habitats near your home, including beaches and local nature parks, by picking up trash. You can also help by volunteering at some local wildlife rehabilitation centers.
- Provide water, food, and shelter for local birds and other wildlife, so they have a safe place to go.
- Use safe, eco-friendly fertilizers and plant food, as well as pesticides that won’t harm birds and animals, to help your garden grow in a safe way that maintains healthy biodiversity.
Be Smart with Water
Recycling rainwater is an excellent way to water your garden and can also be used for irrigation. Rainwater has more oxygen than tap water, and it mixes with other minerals to promote nutrients like zinc and iron to absorb into the soil for healthy plants. Collecting rainwater saves you money on your monthly water bill and is also good for the environment. When you recycle rainwater, it reduces the volume of water that may overwhelm nearby creeks and drainage systems. It also allows the water to naturally seep into the soil and enter groundwater and creeks over time. Use a rain barrel and attach it to a gutter and downspout to collect and distribute it.
Reducing runoff is also essential for a healthy ecosystem. Too much water runoff can cause localized flooding and redirect pollutants into waterways or groundwater. Adding more plants to your garden will help reduce runoff since the roots absorb excess runoff and filter pollutants out of the water. Install pavers, bricks, or flagstones instead of concrete to help runoff soak in between them. Use turf blocks or add a strip of grass to the middle of the driveway, and select porous materials for walkways, patios, and driveways.
Don’t Forget to Compost
Composting is a smart, eco-friendly way to recycle food scraps and other waste. When you compost, you add healthy, all-natural nutrients to your lawn and garden. Composting reduces waste from landfills, cuts methane emissions, and gives the soil a healthy boost of nutrients. Some research shows that organic matter also improves the water-retaining abilities of soil, which may, in turn, reduce water usage. Add greens like vegetables to the compost pile for nitrogen and browns like twigs, leaves, and carbon paper.
Using compost doesn’t mean that you have to use an unsightly pile of garbage. There are many ways to enhance your landscaping through the use of some creative composting methods. When setting everything up, remember that the ideal size for a compost pile is three cubic feet. Make sure larger pieces of food matter and other waste are thoroughly chopped up before adding them to the bin or pile and keep the container in a dry and shady spot in the yard. Build a custom compost bin with wood and metal screens, or use old clay pots or chimneys for a unique shape and a touch of color. You can also paint the compost bin to match your home so it’s stylishly incorporated into the landscape.
Create a Landscape that Helps the Ecosystem Thrive
With careful planning, you can design a beautiful, beneficial garden and landscape that encourages a healthy, thriving ecosystem. Remember to focus on local native plants and provide flowers that will draw a variety of pollinators to the garden. Recycle rainwater, reduce runoff, and use composting to save water and eliminate the need for harmful synthetic fertilizers. These simple processes also help to save money and reduce waste. A few changes to your landscaping and gardening methods will help ensure that the local ecosystem remains healthy and robust for future generations.