lush green golf course

Sustainable Landscaping Practices

Sustainable landscaping is creating a biodiverse, thriving, landscape which doesn’t negatively impact the surrounding environment in any way which can survive with minimal human intervention.  It means working with the natural features and tendencies to reduce our impact and create landscapes which work with the environment.  Creating unnatural spaces which overuse fresh water, force out native animals and vegetation, create issues with water runoff, and can have detrimental contamination of drinking water is a problem that can be seen frequently, with sometimes severe consequences.  Commercial landscaping of spaces like golf courses often has a disregard for sustainability.  Massive agricultural plots which focus solely on profit are contributing to the reduced biodiversity and having a wide range of impacts.  The landscaping company Commercial Landscaping located in Vancouver believes strongly in creating environmentally friendly alternatives for landscaping projects and believes in implementing these changes to homes and businesses whenever possible.

Creating a sustainable landscaped environment seems like a very simple concept, for example: if your climate is one which does not receive a lot of rain, plant drought resistant vegetation.  Despite this, many people are disregarding this idea and go against what nature has intended.  This is typically because people can make money off of spaces like golf courses, or they can save money by using genetically modified seeds and flood them with pesticides.  The end result is one which is very harmful to the environment and is not something which we can sustain for much longer.

Golf courses are a major culprit when it comes to lack of sustainability in a commercial application. The amount of water, fertilizer and pesticides it takes in order to maintain a healthy, lush, green field in areas such as Kelowna, for example,  is staggering.  In desert climates it is very unnatural to have grass that green, year round.   Some acknowledgement of the environmental impacts of golf courses are beginning to be realized yet they remain as popular as ever with no real change in practices in site.  Some of the negative consequences golf courses can have are on ground water run off, invasive plant species, displacing native animals and detrimental uses of pesticides.   The problem is where money stands to be made very few people are willing to make meaningful change.

One of the most recent impending signs of doom regarding our environment’s sustainability is the mass die off of bees.  Because of the use of insecticides, genetic modification and viruses, colony collapse disorder is killing bees off at a rapid rate.  Without honey bees agriculture would essentially fail as cross pollination is responsible for a wide range of fruit and vegetables which we depend on for our food.

Honey bees are sensitive to climate changes and changes in their diet.  Because of so many crops being created strictly for profit, for example corn, the bees do not get a wide variety in their diet which weakens them further.  An increased biodiversity in farming practices, stricter regulation on pesticide use and genetic modifications are needed immediately in addition to changes to farming practices.  The US department of agriculture allocated 3 million dollars towards subsidies to encourage farmer to plant bee friendly fields, this is mere drop in the bucket when the fate of most our fruits and vegetables are in jeopardy.  Mono-cropping is a term used to describe only creating one time of crop in a designated area.  This is an efficient method when it comes to farming and agriculture, but it is not the best practice for long term sustainability.

What can be done to increase your landscape’s sustainability on a personal level?

Although the farming industry and commercial bee industry should be front runners in this issue it is possible for home owners and professional landscapers to contribute in a positive way.

  1. Reduce the size of your lawn, particularly if it requires frequent watering to maintain it during the warmer months.  For years people have been pouring unthinkable liters of fresh water onto their lawns during summer for the soul purpose of aesthetics.  Clearly if humans have to intervene to such an extent it may be wise to change up the landscape with some easier maintained plants which can withstand drought to a higher degree.  Rather than watering a large expanse of green grass, home owners, strata and commercial businesses may need to look to have their yards updated with more native plants and some trees to provide shade.
  2.  Composting and using mulch in gardens is a great way to keep what you’re sending you the dump to a minimum and it provides excellent food for plants and trees for free.
  3. Creating rain gardens and rain roofs or rain collection buckets are way to work with nature instead of abusing it.
  4. Creating environments which can help increase honey bee populations.
    • There are several home operated bee hives which are fairly easy to care for
    • Planting a diverse, bee friendly garden
    • Supporting local honey retailers who deploy sustainable practices when harvesting honey
    • Boycotting businesses which drive harmful industry for the bees

In conclusion, landscaping should be used to improve a space for it’s primary users but not disregard the impact which it may be having on other species and trickle down effects on the environment, both long term and short term.  There is a compromise that can be reached through some thinking and creativity.  Education on the subject is the best way to slowly start making improvements in our practices both on a personal level and on a larger scale.