Harold Bekker, freelance consultant sustainable development, offers some words of wisdom on sustainable landscaping.
1) Approach the landscape from a natural point of view.
Face the landscape as a closed system where natural cycles play a crucial role. A sustainable landscape is a landscape with a minimum input and a minimum output; let nature do the hard work.
2) Get commitment and cooperate
Landscape designers must work closely together with other disciplines to create truly sustainable sites that are highly functional, protect the environment, improve the health and well-being of humans and wildlife, and conserve both natural resources and budget. Sustainability is likely to be a common sense approach to design and management for ages to come.
3) Feel and experience the site
You need to know the site, you need to know how it feels, sounds and looks like. Experience the site and get a good impression about the site-specific conditions like soil, gradient, existing vegetation, sound disturbance and everything else. There is not one single site that is like a blank piece of paper and can only be designed from behind your desk, so take your chair to site.
4) Set the strategic goals
Establish a common definition and set goals for sustainability remember each project and circumstance is unique. Try to get all stakeholders involved, especially the people who eventually will use the landscape area. The team involved in making decisions on the design also might deem other goals important in ensuring the sustainable nature of the project.
5) Stop the battle against the landscape
Eliminate the need for trimming and pruning, pay attention to the ultimate size of the plant at maturity. Put the right plant in the right place. Give the plant the conditions it needs and leave it alone. Use native plant species where possible to reduce the need for excessive irrigation and wonder who will be using the lawn. Always keep in mind whom you are designing for (the end user) and will finally use the landscaped area.