The Struggle Of Sustainability In The Landscaping Industry
As the landscaping season is in full swing in the Aspen area, we begin evaluating our previous year and brainstorming new ways to further commit to being a more sustainable company.
Many think that landscaping is at its core, a very sustainable industry given the scope of our work. Unfortunately, this is not the case! The amount of waste generated by the landscaping industry is shocking. Plants come in plastic containers; soil, compost, and mulch come in plastic bags; heavy machinery used for large excavation projects has a high exhaust output; non-organic fertilizer contains toxic chemicals; not to mention the resources it takes to grow annual plants used for pots and containers.
As a company we have standards in place to help mitigate our impact on the environment and lessen the amount of waste we produce:
-Design gardens that emphasize native plant material and sustainable landscapes for new installations.
-Reusing or recycling plant containers to local nurseries whenever possible.
-Installing drip irrigation wherever possible in order to lessen water waste and evaporation.
-Irrigation system checks at least once a week to address leaks as soon as possible.
-Renting heavy equipment to reduce emissions from hauling long distances.
-Offering organic fertilizer and choosing to extract weeds instead of poisoning them.
-Reusing materials from job sites whenever possible: trees and branches become wood chips, dirt gets screened to become topsoil, grass clippings get composted.
-Buying fuel-efficient or hybrid fleet vehicles.
-Paying our employees wages that allow them to live in the Roaring Fork Valley to reduce the need to commute more than 30 minutes.
While our practices make a huge impact on the issue, you can also take some steps to make your landscaping more sustainable! Sustainable landscaping means finding ways to conserve water and energy, reduce waste and decrease runoff. Here are some ways from the Landscaping Network that you can make your own landscape a little more sustainable:
Principle #1 - Treat Water as a Resource
The demand for water is at an all-time high. Wasteful irrigation accounts for over one-third of the residential water use in the United States. Additionally, rainwater is treated as waste and allowed to flow into gutters and sewers.
A sustainable landscaping approach would be to treat water as a valuable resource. With proper design and plant selection, the need for irrigation can be reduced or eliminated. Furthermore, rainwater harvesting can be to capture stormwater on-site and use the water for irrigation.
Principle #2 - Value Your Soil
It's likely that your garden's soil is compacted. Compacted soil leads to problems such as restricted plant growth, erosion, runoff, and flooding. Runoff caused by compacted soils is one of the main sources of water pollution. To mitigate this, you will want your landscaping company to till your soil, add in compost and topsoil.
Principle #3 - Preserve Existing Plants
Many homeowners want to remove all the plants from their property so that they can start with a clean slate. Often this ends up doing harm because it disrupts the natural processes occurring in the yard.
A sustainable landscaping approach would be to assess the existing plant material and preserve native plants. Invasive, non-native plants should be removed and replaced with a more appropriate choice. We have many beautiful plant choices that are native to Colorado, if you need any help with your selection please reach out to our staff.
Principle #4 - Conserve Material Resources
The typical American landscape produces high amounts of yard and construction waste. Additionally, many of the hardscape materials used are energy-intensive and transported hundreds or even thousands of miles.
A sustainable landscaping approach would be to reduce yard waste by selecting appropriately sized plants, reusing, and recycling construction waste. Furthermore, building materials should be carefully selected, using locally sourced materials whenever possible.
Upgrading to sustainable landscaping is not only a good choice for the environment, it can also save you money on utility expenses and through sustainable landscaping rebates. The amount of maintenance required for your yard will also be reduced dramatically. Interested in how you can tweak your landscaping to make it more sustainable? Contact us today for a free consultation!