Environmentally Friendly Landscaping Practices

Do you ever wonder if you’re doing the right things to be environmentally friendly as you create your perfect outdoor space? It can be confusing to know which products and practices actually help, rather than harm, the environment. Working with a landscaping architect is a great first step if this is one of your goals. We can help you understand what steps are necessary to make your space as environmentally friendly as possible while still achieving your goals. Projects like building a retaining wall to help stop soil erosion or creating a rain garden make the most of native grasses can just as much of a benefit to the community at large as it can be to your outdoor space.

But it can be difficult to sift through the myriad products on the shelves—and without a degree in chemistry or horticulture, much of it can sound like word soup. This post aims to provide some basic starting information and remember: we’re always here to help, no matter what project you have in mind.

Easy Landscaping Steps to Help the Environment

One of the easiest things you can do if your goal is to benefit the environment is to leave grass clippings on your lawn after you mow. Why? Because clippings are basically green debris, which is another way of saying that it’s nature’s fertilizer. Grass clippings contain nitrogen—one of the main ingredients in chemical fertilizer. By leaving clippings on the ground rather than bagging and disposing of them, you let nature work in its own way to nourish your soil.

You can also choose to compost clippings rather than dispose of them. This is true of most lawn and garden debris. If you don’t compost at home, most communities provide where residents can bring lawn waste to be turned into either mulch or compost. In Olathe, for instance, there is a compost facility drop-off location. Just load up your bags of lawn waste and drop it off at the designated location. The city then turns that waste into either compost or mulch, both of which residents can pick up for free.

Keep Your Landscaping Native

Another easy way to be environmentally friendly is to choose native plants and grasses for your gardens. Native plants and grasses are simply those that flourish in our particular climate and soil conditions, which means they need less chemical help than non-native plants to flourish.

Native plants and grasses are important to rain gardens and to nurturing a home for birds, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. Learn more about native plants and grasses and how they benefit rain gardens (and how rain gardens can be part of your outdoor space) here.

Re-think Your Irrigation Systems

If you haven’t evaluated your irrigation systems for some time, you might be surprised at how options have evolved to be better for the environment and for your budget. Newer system options can decrease the amount of water used. It can also ensure that water is being used in the right spots and at the right time. A consultation with your local landscape architect can tell you if your system could benefit from an upgrade or a redesign.

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What is a Rain Garden and Why Should You Consider Having One?

What is a Rain Garden and Why Should You Consider Having One?

All the choices you have for making your lawn and landscape look amazing can get confusing. How do you choose between a flower garden, herb garden, or even a rain garden? A gazebo or an extended deck? A fire element or an outdoor kitchen?

All of these decisions, no matter how economical or expensive, have multiple factors. Budget, of course. The amount of time you can devote to planning, executing, and maintaining the finished product. And, of course, the natural limitations of your property—including layout, space available, available sunlight, moisture levels, and more.

One feature to consider might be a rain garden. Read on to learn more.

What is a Rain Garden?

Rain gardens are comprised of native plants and grasses and are generally planted on a gentle slope of land, in a depression of the ground. The overall idea of a rain garden is to create a place that can temporarily hold water so it can eventually soak, slowly, into the ground. Rain gardens are an ideal way to leverage run-off from roofs, patios, or other sloped areas.

Why Native Plants and Grasses?

It’s vital that the plants and grasses in a rain garden are native to the area. The reason is this: native plants have deep root systems. Those deep root systems are the best way to channel the run-off water that might normally erode a landscape deeper into the soil. This prevents erosion.

Native plants and grasses also thrive without the use of added fertilizers or chemicals, because they are uniquely able to grow in our exact conditions. This is important because the water that a rain garden collects will seep directly into the earth. Using native plants and grasses means fewer chemicals, which means there are fewer chemicals in the water that seeps into the ground.

What are the Benefits of a Rain Garden?

Like other gardens, one of the main advantages of a rain garden is how it looks. Because rain gardens are full of native plants and grasses, they are typically lush and full—and that means a rain garden can be beautiful to look at.

But rain gardens are also practical because they can help prevent erosion, which is normally caused by a runoff water, by giving that water a place to slowly seep into the ground. The native plants and grasses also filter storm and rainwater before it can get enter local waterways. Finally, rain gardens can provide a safe, abundant spot for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.

Curious about ways we can help you create new, interesting spots in your lawn and landscape? From small projects to huge undertakings, we love working with clients to make their dreams come true. Give us a call or email for more information.

Did You Have a COVID Garden? What to Do Next

Did You Have a COVID Garden?

One of the results of the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 was the rise of home and backyard gardens. Most often supplemental gardens (those used not as sole sources of food, but as supplemental supplies) and often container based rather than in-ground, these COVID gardens gave people something productive to do.

But, as COVID fatigue set in—and as temperatures plummeted during winter—the shine that these gardens once had might be a bit scuffed. If you built a garden last year and want to change things up a bit for the upcoming season, here are a few ideas to make the most of your space.

New Year, New Gardens

If you planted a garden last year by purchasing or building container gardens, you likely remember how those crops fared. Did your tomatoes grow tall and leggy but produce few fruits? Did your watermelons fizzle? Make notes about each crop you planted.  Pay attention to placement in your garden, your watering habits, and the results.

Chances are, you can rotate your crops this year to better leverage your space. If your containers are portable, consider place where you’ll get optimal sunlight; if you cannot move your containers, take some time to determine where sunlight falls in your space and for how long, then follow the guidelines set out for each crop. For example, tomatoes have different sunlight needs than green beans.

Consider Adding New Elements

If you know what you’re planting, whether that’s vegetables or flowers or a combination of both, and you have the space, you can consider adding other elements to your garden. Some communities reimburse homeowners for environmentally friendly garden elements, like rain barrels or butterfly gardens. You could also add a hardscape, like a patio, or a water or fire element.

Combine Garden and Outdoor Living Concepts

One outdoor trend, according to Veranda, is the return of the cutting garden. Another is a more seamless integration of outdoor and indoor spaces. You can breathe new life into your outdoor space by considering these trends. For instance, use a currently barren corner to plant zinnias or sunflowers—and then use those cuttings to decorate both your patio tables and in your indoor bouquets.

Another option is to expand your garden and add seating elements. This can be as easy as adding a bench so you can sit and enjoy the fruits of your labor, or by building an umbrellaed dining area complete with countertops and an outdoor oven.

Do you have big plans for your outdoor space? We’d love to hear about them. Share on our Facebook or shoot us an email.