Spring is officially upon us, making it the perfect time to refresh your landscaping for the coming months. If you’re sustainability-minded, implementing high performance landscaping will be a top priority – this involves preserving water and introducing native plant species as a way to enhance your natural landscape.
There are plenty of benefits to high performance landscaping — including less money spent on water bills and pest control, a decreased need for fertilizer and lawn maintenance, and better conservation of native plant species and animal habitats.
Ready to get started? Read on for ways to spruce up your landscaping in a more sustainable way.
Our climate in Silicon Valley is classified as a ‘Mediterranean climate,’ or one that’s characterized by warm, wet winters and hot, dry summers. As we approach some of the hottest and driest months of the year, consider introducing native plants into your landscaping.
Native plants have evolved along with the local climate and need less help to thrive in their natural environment. By default, this means they require minimal water beyond normal rainfall amounts. In fact, gardens that contain drought-tolerant native plant species conserve up to 85% less water annually. Native plant species have also developed natural pest control defenses, so the need for pesticides is decreased.
A few local native plant species to consider include the California Wild Rose and California Poppy.
Another way to make your landscaping more sustainable for spring is by planting trees and shrubs. Trees not only absorb carbon dioxide, but they also serve as habitats for various animals and insects including birds, bees, and butterflies. Trees and shrubs can also be used as daylighting devices, offering shade in the summer and letting in sunlight during the winter. This lowers overall energy costs and helps to make home temperatures more efficient.
If sustainability is your focus, consider filling your landscaping with perennials. In contrast to annuals, perennials bloom for more than one growing season and require less water and maintenance once planted and established. An extra benefit is that they provide a welcome wildlife habitat year after year.
Although perennials have a higher cost up front, they don’t require repurchase or replanting for up to three years, making them a more sustainable and less expensive option long term. Looking for perennials for the Silicon Valley region? Consider agave, rosemary, sage, or lavender.
Using organic matter – like mulch and compost – in your landscaping feeds necessary nutrients to your soil as it decomposes, helping your plants to thrive. Because mulch covers the soil, it assists with water retention and weed suppression, which is especially beneficial in a Mediterranean climate.
By introducing organic matter into your landscaping, it avoids the landfill, where it can decompose quickly and produce methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that harms the environment. If you choose to use mulch, make sure that it was sourced sustainably, especially if the color has been altered.
Instead of bagging your grass clippings and sending them off to the landfill, consider leaving them on the lawn – a process called “grasscycling.” The concept is simple: by cutting your grass frequently with sharp lawnmower blades, you produce small grass pieces that will settle into your lawn and decompose quickly. The grass clippings act as a natural fertilizer, reintroducing nutrients and organic matter to the soil and producing a healthier, greener lawn.
According to California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, grass clippings make up a significant portion of California’s waste stream – up to 6 ½ tons per acre each year. By using proper grasscycling techniques, you can upcycle your lawn clippings and keep them out of the landfill, a win for your landscape and the environment.
Passive homes and high-performance landscaping go hand in hand. By implementing a thoughtful strategy for the land around your home, you can tap into sustainability benefits that go beyond just construction. With the right team, you can achieve your passive home project goals and create a stunning property that’s enhanced by the natural landscape around it.
Let Clarum Homes harness the natural landscape to bring more sustainability to your custom home project. Give us a call at (650) 322-7069 to learn more.