How to Create a Sustainable Landscape in San Jose | Golden State Gardens
The 7 principles you need to know to create a sustainable landscape design in San Jose, CA from Golden State Gardens, Bianca Vallorz.
A sustainable landscape design utilizes regenerative methods to positively shape the environment, and works harmoniously with the local climate to create a beautiful oasis. An environmentally friendly design is accomplished by analyzing all aspects of a landscape to maximize its contributions while minimizing the negative impact. Below is a list of seven guiding principles to create a more eco-friendly landscape.
Principle #1: Reuse Materials
A typical residential construction landscape will demolish and dispose of existing site materials and start with a clean slate. This produces more waste dumped in a landfill.
A sustainable landscape design will repurpose elements already existing on the property. Additionally, reducing waste will save the homeowners money in disposal fees, labor, and new material costs.
This raised vegetable garden bed is built with repurposed concrete blocks from another project
Principle #2: Capture Rainwater
A traditional landscape allows rainwater to drain into the sewer or evaporate, but with California being in another drought, conserving water is extremely important. Increased drought leads to heightened wildfire risks, tree deaths, higher water prices, and degradation to the landscape quality.
A sustainable landscape design treats the property as a watershed. It utilizes methods to store rain water on site, such as rain gardens, swales, rain water storage tanks, laundry-to-landscape greywater systems, and permeable hardscapes. Treating your garden as a watershed allows many California native plants to get the deep winter water they need, which helps them survive our seasonally dry summers.
A swale and dry well are used to move water away from the residence and into the ground
Principle #3: Chose Plants Well Adapted to Your Local Climate
Lawn is one of the most water thirsty, high maintenance, and heavily used plants in a residential landscape. It requires year round water, fertilizer, weed elimination, and mowing.
A sustainable landscape design uses a wide array of plants that are adapted to the local environment to create a cohesive landscape. Additionally, plants are selected to fit the property’s unique microclimate.
Principle #4: Refrain from Chemicals
Poisonous chemicals are dangerous to the health of humans, wildlife, soil, and waterways. They can also remain in the environment for many years. A traditional landscape can use chemicals to kill the soil’s micro-organisms and insects, and promote quick yet weak plant growth.
A sustainable landscape design adopts integrated pest management, which is a more natural approach to control insets, and only uses chemicals as a last resort to target the specific organism. The focus in an environmentally friendly design is to create a balanced, self-sustaining ecosystem.
Ladybug larvae eating aphids that infested an apple tree
Principle #5: Feed the Soil
One teaspoon of soil contains more than 7 billion micro-organisms, which are kept alive through healthy organic materials.
A sustainable landscape design feeds the soil by using a mixture of different types of plants and their root systems, compost, and mulch to nourish the organisms that keep plants thriving.
Principle #6: Create Habitat
With the expansion of urban development, wildlife habitat is becoming more reduced.
A sustainable landscape design builds an ecosystem where flora, fauna, and humans thrive. It encourages birds, bees, butterflies, lizards, and beneficial insects to enter the property for food, water and shelter. To increase wildlife habitat, consider adding a small water feature in a shady location, a bird nesting box, or leaving some soil bare for native bees to burrow and live underground. Also consider adding a variety of plants that bloom at different times of the year, which provide year round food.
Principle #7: Say “No” to Invasive Plants
Many local nurseries carry invasive plants at the request of the public. These invasive species compete with and crowd out native plants. It also increases the amount of time to tend the garden and weed out invasive seedlings.
A sustainable landscape design recognizes the negative impact of invasive plants and chooses alternatives that are better suited for the environment. It is important to keep in mind that the list of invasive plants changes based on the homeowners geographic region.
The California native, Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens), is a good alternative to the invasive Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella or Stipa tenuissima)
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About Golden State Gardens:
Golden State Gardens creates environmentally friendly landscapes. Our sustainable landscape designs emphasize California's biodiversity, conserve precious resources, and create a bridge between your urban garden and nature. We achieve this by designing mainly with California native plants and edibles, limiting garden waste, providing low water landscaping, conserving rainwater through rain gardens, and creating pollinator gardens.
Golden State Gardens is able to provide you with high quality designs tailored to fit your lifestyle. This is achieved through our horticulture and design expertise, attention to detail, and ensuring proper communication with you and contractors.
We pride ourselves on discovering unique solutions to your site challenges.