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Environmental Protection & Preservation

Go Green in the Garden With Xeriscaping, Solarization and Succulents

A home's landscape gives a house much of its character. From beautiful flower gardens and trees to brick pathways and stone walls, the choices you make when it comes to your exterior can make a huge impact. Although the goal of landscaping is to enhance our homes' appearances, we also want them to be maintainable. Just a few eco-friendly landscaping tactics can cut energy costs and improve sustainability.

Water Conservation & Xeriscaping

A tenent of modern landscape architecture and design, xeriscaping is an important concept for homeowners and communities who are interested in sustainable living practices. Xeriscaping is the conservation of water through creative landscaping. It's a flexible design concept that increases sustainability of any landscape and minimizes the use of water. A xeriscape design not only saves on water and increases property value, it requires less maintenance, zero chemical supplements and minimal fossil fuel consumption. How much water can homeowners expect to save? One xeriscaping study in Las Vegas, N.V., monitored 700 properties for five years. As a result, homeowners had a water savings of 75 percent on average.

Here are a few suggestions:
  • Create terraces based on your land's drainage pattern to reduce erosion and soil loss
  • Plant dense evergreen. deciduous or low-story trees and shrubs to help reduce natural heating and cooling costs
  • Use organic material to improve soil, which drains and stores water; compost materials provide the most benefits
  • Landscape with native plants
  • Cover soil surfaces with mulch for soil moisture and temperature retention
  • Irrigate to prevent over-watering; soaker hoses and drip-irrigation systems are most efficient

Weed Elimination & Soil Solarization

Of course, weed prevention and elimination are always concerns of home gardeners. Use organic methods in place of harmful chemicals or soil solarization, which is the process of naturally killing weeds. Cover the soil with a clear plastic tarp during the hottest time of the year. Within four and six weeks, direct sunlight will heat the soil six inches deep and destroy pests that breed in soil such as root rot fungi and noxious weed seed. Soil solarization also helps release nutrients from organic matter.

It is a non-chemical technique that eliminates weeds, diseases and pests and works most effectively in warm climates with high amounts of sun, according to

Succulents, Certified Wood & Synthetic Turf

Eco-friendly landscaping materials help create a sustainable environment. By introducing succulents into your landscape, you'll save long-term on water. Succulents are low-maintenance plants, and the leaves, stems and roots preserve water.

To further your sustainable practices, use wood products and lumber that have Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. FSC-certified wood ensures that the product comes from forests that are "managed to the highest environmental and social standards." Avoid chemically treated wood and use natural wood species that are rot resistant and locally grown, as recommended by

Also, synthetic turf, or artificial grass, has come a long way since the bright green plastics that were used in the mid-1900s. Today, they look and feel natural, and contribute to landscaping water conservation. It can enhance a contemporary outdoor theme, especially in urban settings. Synthetic turf and hardwood patio flooring can accent a modern theme with synthetic turf decorative elements.

This article was written by Sonny Rodriguez. Sonny loves living in the country, where she cares for her menagerie of six chickens, two goats and three llamas. Being a freelance writer for environmentally friendly cars and smartphone apps, Sonny feels that she gets to experience the best of both worlds; living in nature and writing about nature friendly technology.

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