MAINTENANCE

Sustainable maintenance can improve aesthetics and protect the environment.

WHY IS SUSTAINABLE MAINTENANCE IMPORTANT?

Landscapes require maintenance, because they — like any natural system — are always in flux. Plants grow, soils change, erosion happens, leaves fall and weeds grow. Many common forms of maintenance are incredibly harmful to the environment. Maintenance activities can release unnecessary chemicals into the environment, contaminate water, pollute the air and impact human health.

Sustainable maintenance practices, on the other hand, work with the environment to achieve aesthetic and environmental benefits. Thoughtful, sustainable maintenance is key to the success of a landscape. This means working with nature to support and nurture the living systems that make up our gardens and striving to diminish negative impacts by reducing water consumption, reusing or recycling waste, protecting air and water quality, and minimizing the use of fossil fuels. As stewards of our landscapes, we can make meaningful impacts that enhance the beauty of our garden and its ability to provide ecosystem services.

Compost

Creating your own compost or using locally made fertilizer are sustainable alternatives to over-the-counter fertilizers made from chemicals. Image credit: Shutterstock/

Lawnmower

Gas-powered lawn mowers contribute to air pollution. A more sustainable option for lawn maintenance would be an electric lawnmower. Better yet: don’t have a lawn at all! Image credit: Shutterstock/kurhan

THE ROLE OF MAINTENANCE IN A SUSTAINABLE LANDSCAPE

The appearance of a landscape is often a key driver for maintenance; however, care of your garden can have many impacts beyond aesthetics.

When thinking about sustainable maintenance, it is important to remember the interdependency between the environment, human health and the economy. The economic benefits associated with landscape maintenance are most easily found when materials or maintenance hours are reduced. All too often, maintenance practices do not reflect the needs of the landscape, but rather a set schedule that is determined by seasons or habit. This results in the unnecessary use of materials and person-hours. Sustainable landscape maintenance considers both the short- and long-term goals of a garden and is informed by careful observations and monitoring of garden conditions.

Unsustainable vs. Sustainable Gardens:
How They Compare

BECOME A LANDSCAPE FOR LIFE TEACHER!

Landscape For Life includes a complete kit of teaching resources which can be used to conduct classes in sustainable home gardening. Become a teacher using Landscape For Life's self-paced webinar series.

Landscape For Life™ is a collaboration between the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the United States Botanic Garden based on the principles of the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES®).