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Wellnesscapes Design answers frequently asked resilient landscape design questions.
1. What is “sustainable” or “resilient” landscape design, sometimes also termed “natural” or “ecological” landscape design?
An approach to landscape design that embraces natural systems and patterns to establish attractive, lower maintenance, ecologically-rich landscapes that are resilient in adapting to environmental stresses and change. Highlighting the use of native plant communities, sustainably designed landscapes better withstand stressful conditions such as hotter summers, heavier rainfalls, and extended periods of drought than do traditional lawn- and exotic plant-based landscape models. As such, sustainable landscapes are much less vulnerable to failure than are traditional landscapes.
2. Why should I choose a sustainable landscape approach?
In addition to natural plant communities providing stronger resilience to stressful environmental conditions, they require significantly less water and costly maintenance once established. A well designed natural landscape should actually require virtually no watering once established. This is a real benefit if you live in a town with a water ban or have dry soil conditions.
Sustainable landscapes are also interesting and beautiful! A well-designed sustainable landscape will provide year-round visual interest and attract a diversity of wildlife, particularly birds and butterflies. Native plant communities provide long periods of sequential bloom, seeding and fruiting, including many plant species that are edible or medicinal for humans. Varied, soothing and even exhilarating plant color and textural patterns enliven sustainable landscapes. They provide interest even through long winters, especially when planted in large groups or sweeps. Sustainable landscapes are environmentally valuable in recharging groundwater, stabilizing soils and preventing erosion. They support diverse wildlife habitats while avoiding need and cost for environmentally damaging inputs like herbicides, fungicides, pesticides and inorganic fertilizers.
3. How are sustainable landscapes more cost-effective and lower maintenance than traditional landscapes?
Unlike annual flower beds or high maintenance lawns that require constant attention in the form of planting, fertilizing, watering, weeding and mowing, sustainable landscapes require progressively less maintenance thereby saving significant costs over time. The use of well selected and appropriately located natural plant communities means picking the right plant for the right spot…..or selecting plants that are best adapted to their locations in the landscape. By selecting the right plant communities, we are best reducing maintenance needs from the starting line. All new plantings will require some level of management, typically watering and weeding, prior to becoming fully established.
Full establishment of natural lawn areas, perennial beds, meadows and woodland edges often takes about three full growing seasons to achieve following installation. Once fully established, then well-timed annual or biennial weeding and selective cutting is the typical long-term management for natural landscapes. Depending upon the size of the maintained landscape, long-term management may only require about one-three days of work per year. Sustainable landscapes also seek complete ground cover with plants thereby avoiding costly mulch application year after year.