Monday, 11 March 2013

What does sustainable landscaping mean?

The Environment Agency has warned that weather conditions are likely to become more challenging and that we need to make better preparations for coping with droughts as well as floods.

Has the world gone mad, or is it simply a case of human activity disrupting natural systems to the extent that they simply cannot cope with the demand?

Flooded field - this water will eventually soak into the ground,
the way nature intended.  The more hard surfaces we introduce,
the more difficult it is for Nature to cope with heavy rainfall.

2012 saw the wettest drought ever in Britain. Hosepipe bans were in place throughout the spring and summer months, even though rivers were overflowing and homes and businesses were flooded. It was all very confusing for gardeners who postponed major projects while they waited to see what the weather would do next. This, of course had a knock-on effect on plant nurseries, garden centres and landscapers.

Clever use of water and pollinator-friendly plants in the Olympic Park
I'm hoping that 2013 brings more "normal" weather patterns so that the nation's gardeners, possibly even inspired by the spectacular landscaping of the Olympic Park, will be able to create some really sustainable outdoor spaces.

Sustainability is based on a simple principal. Everything we need for our survival and wellbeing depends either directly or indirectly on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations. In other words, sustainability protects the water and other resources we need for a healthy society.

Phew! That's a bit of a mouthful but basically, what sustainability means for gardeners is that by facilitating natural processes like composting, keeping soil healthy, supporting wildlife and making sure water can soak into the soil instead of being flushed into the drainage systems, we each can do our bit towards helping the environment cope with flooding and drought.

plant a wildflower meadow and you'll attract all sorts of wildlife
So, instead of concrete, use's more permeable. Instead of wooden fencing, plant a hedge using native species (preferably UK grown); it will create a wildlife corridor and the blossom will help sustain pollinating insects; got a shed? Put a green roof on it to soak up rain water and to create wildlife habitat, hate mowing and weeding? You need a wild flower meadow - even if it's only little the creatures that visit it will fascinate and intrigue you.

Sustainable gardening isn't about hard work, it's about working with nature, not against her. At least that's what I think. What's your opinion?
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