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Opinion: Nature-inspired landscaping: Growing green, saving green

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In the realm of commercial landscaping, a remarkable trend is taking root – one that far surpasses focusing solely on curb appeal. It’s the art of designing landscapes that harmonize with nature, rather than challenging it. As the owner of a landscape company, I’ve seen firsthand how designing landscapes that embrace nature can benefit your business, the environment and even the local wildlife.

Here are a few proven ideas:

Native species
When it comes to creating a sustainable landscape, native drought-tolerant species are the superheroes of the plant world. By incorporating these resilient plants, we can decrease our reliance on water, fertilizers and pesticides, while still achieving lush, vibrant and visually appealing results. Not only do these species require minimal inputs, but they also provide a bountiful habitat for wildlife and pollinators, bringing life and vitality to your surroundings.

Efficiency in irrigation
Newly installed landscapes require watering during the first several months to the first couple of years while plants are getting established and forming root systems. Let’s face it, traditional irrigation systems can be wasteful and costly. Don’t worry, there are more efficient alternatives available. One such solution is drip irrigation on a grid within your landscape beds. This ingenious approach minimizes water loss, reduces evaporation and ensures water is delivered directly to the root systems, avoiding foliar watering that can lead to fungal and bacterial infections. Not only does this save water, but it also improves the health and structure of your plants, all while being friendly to your budget and the environment.

Nature’s resilience
Native landscapes, once established, can thrive without the need for irrigation, though a little help through the most stressful portions of summer is never a bad thing. These plants have evolved to withstand our local climate, enduring droughts, freezing temperatures and excessive rainfall. By harnessing the power of native species, you can create a landscape that not only requires less maintenance but also supports the local ecosystem with berries, seeds and a habitat for wildlife throughout the seasons.

Shade advantage
Beyond their aesthetic appeal, trees play a vital role in temperature regulation. By strategically planting trees to provide ample canopy coverage, you can reduce temperatures by up to 10 degrees in the surrounding area. This not only creates a more pleasant environment for your co-workers, building and vehicles but also helps cut down on energy costs associated with cooling systems. Now, that’s a win-win.

Mulch magic
Mulch is not only a visual enhancement, it’s also an eco-friendly powerhouse. By using organic mulch, you’ll keep the ground cooler, conserve soil moisture, reduce weed growth and promote healthy soil. Over time, the mulch breaks down and enriches the soil, creating a sustainable cycle of growth and nourishment. Additionally, ditching the traditional plastic weed barrier for a woven fabric alternative allows for proper water and gas exchange while still keeping weeds at bay, further supporting a healthy landscape.

Simple maintenance
Say goodbye to labor-intensive maintenance routines. If you like the idea of mulch, but don’t have an opening in the schedule each spring to freshen it up, stone may be a better choice. By incorporating maintenance-free decorative stone as a finishing touch, you’ll minimize upkeep while still achieving a clean and appealing look. Avoid the use of rubber mulch or plastic weed barriers, which can be detrimental to the environment, and opt for products that work with the environment and are rated for longevity.

Designing landscapes that work in harmony with nature is not only a responsible choice but a smart business move. By embracing eco-friendly practices, using native species, implementing efficient irrigation systems and promoting a healthy environment, you can create a landscape that not only captivates the eye, but also supports local wildlife and reduces your environmental impact.

Kevin Runyon owns Custom Creations Landscaping & Lawn LLC. He can be reached at


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