The Basics of Eco-Friendly Landscaping for Your Yard

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Having a beautiful lawn is a major delight of suburban living.  However, it can be difficult to maintain your lawn while also staying eco-conscious and conserving water.  If you can bear to part with your lawn, a no-yard landscaping design is a neat option and gives you creative reign over the layout with items such as stone pavers, water features, mulch, and native plants. Another option is to turn your lawn into an edible yard or food forest to harvest your own produce.

If you’d prefer to keep your lawn, then there’s no need to worry.  The following tips will help you keep ecology in mind at the same time as you make your lawn the crown of the neighborhood.

Reduce your water usage

One of the simplest ways to conserve water is by installing a rain barrel underneath your gutter.  Rain barrels will collect rain water every time a storm passes through.  You can then utilize the rainwater for all of your gardening needs, without wasting water from your tap. 

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Next, make sure you aren’t watering your lawn too much.  Many people overwater their lawns thinking the grass needs to be excessively saturated to thrive.  A good way to tell if you’re overwatering is to check if you have moss growing on your sidewalk or driveway.  The fact that the plants have managed to grow away from the grass typically means you’re watering too much. A lawn moisture meter can help you gauge the proper amount of water your lawn needs.

You can also look closely at your grass for signs it needs water, like a bluish tint, narrowed blades and long-lasting footprints when you walk on it.  Ideally, your watering day should be the day before these visual indications are obvious enough to be easily noticed. 

Change your watering technique

It is important to know your lawn.  Pay attention each time you water and notice what areas tend to need more moisture, where water tends to pool up, and if there are any areas that grow faster or slower than others, then adjust your watering technique accordingly.  Most lawns only need about an inch of water per week, including rainfall.  When watering, you’ll want to deep soak the grass without creating pools of standing water.  If you have a sprinkler system, make sure that they are pointed toward the grass.  Not only is it a waste of water if you’re watering your driveway, but it can also send pollutants into your waterways through the drains.

If you have a garden, organize your plants into zones determined by the amount of water they require.  This will prevent you over saturating plants that don’t need much hydration and under watering those that do.  If your plants are organized into beds, put your hardier plants on the edges of the bed to catch runoff.  Finally, change the time you water.  Early morning is generally best – any later, and around 30 percent of the water will evaporate due to the heat of the day.

Swap your sprinklers for a drip irrigation system

Over the past decade, many eco-conscious lawn lovers have shifted from sprinkler systems to drip irrigation systems.  Drip irrigation is a low-pressure irrigation system in which nozzles are placed at the base of plants and water is applied slowly.  It’s a highly efficient watering system both in terms of water and energy use – drip irrigation saves 30-50 percent more water than sprinkler systems.  With a day’s work, a new system can be installed in your yard with relative ease.

Landscape water-consciously

It is possible to have a beautiful yard with minimal water intake.  A shade tree or two will do wonders for your lawn, cooling it down and reducing the need for large amounts of water while also beautifying your yard.  Spread mulch around your trees, shrubs and larger plants to retain water.  Less turfgrass and more native plants generally means less water will be required each week.  Incorporating different forms of landscaping, like gravel pathways, can be another great way of minimizing the amount of turf to cover when watering. In addition, it’ll create an interesting design aesthetic.  Be sure to keep your hands healthy when you’re working on your garden’s landscaping by choosing a pair of garden gloves that suit your needs.

With a little effort, you can have a beautiful lawn and lower your water usage.  By replacing your sprinkler with a drip irrigation system and parts of your turf grass with local plants, you’ll significantly reduce the amount of water you waste, while making your lawn a work of art.

About Giving Garden: Learn more about plants and what to grow in your area with the Giving Garden app. Giving Garden helps you grow, share and eat food locally. Available on iOSAndroid and the web.  Find your local farmers market, grow your own food and share food to strengthen your local food system. If you have extra produce, we encourage you to post it on our mobile apps and let your friends and neighbors know. Let’s combat food waste together! Have suggestions on features or need assistance, email 

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Thank you to our guest blogger, Clara Beaufort. Clara is a retired business owner, who currently works in community gardening. She operates GardenerGigs, which aims to connect local gardeners with those who need them.  

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