LAWN GONE - WATER CONSERVATION
Gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water for irrigation.
Lawn maintenance requires copious summer watering, fertilizers and pesticides which are toxic to animals and humans. This toxic water cocktail ultimately ends up in the watershed, further affecting wild flora and fauna. Due to many studies on the health of our communities, we have a better understanding of the negative environmental impact that lawns have. Hence, we need to take measures to minimize its effects on the well-being of our ecosystem. Even though lawns may have a practical use for outdoor activities, it should not be overused into infinite expanses of grass areas. Why have more lawn than what you need?
Listed are some of the negative aspects of lawns.
- Fertilizers and pesticide pollution
- High maintenance and extra time is needed
- More prone to large infestations of grubs & bugs
- Noise and air pollution coming from the maintenance equipment
- A mono-culture of large grass area does not promote a balanced ecosystem
- Repetitive boring themes of large expanses of lawns in the neighbourhood
- Watering lawns in summer draught conditions puts a strain on our water supply
What to replace your lawn with?
It is daunting to figure out what to replace your lawn with. Since the front yard is hardly used by most people, that should be the first place to consider for replacement. But with what materials and plants should this be done? The first step should be to come up with a plan. Some professional help might be in order, such as a landscape designer or a landscape architect, because a well thought out plan determines the result of your lawn replacement project. But first, we need to consider different mix of options such as:
- Installing a pond.
- Installing a gazebo.
- Installing artificial grass.
- Mass planting of wildflowers.
- Lawn-like ornamental grasses.
- Low mass planting of evergreens.
- Patio / sitting area with pathways.
- Using ornamental boulders for accent.
- Flowering perennials low on the ground.
- Mass planting of small, medium and large sized shrubs.
- Shrinking the functional lawn size.
- Using organic mulch such as wood bark.
- Using inorganic ground cover such as river wash.
- Using lawn edger - plastic, metal, precast or wood.
The Soft Landscape Approach
Also known as softscape – dealing with the landscape aspect of all plants. The best plant material to use is native plants, that integrate and transition well with already existing plants in the surrounding lands. This understanding is important for those who live in the outskirts of urban areas, and have had their land cleared of native trees and undergrowth. Unless the land is in use, a return to the woods is an ecologically friendly and sustainable way to go. This can reduce water run-off and erosion that comes with it, and will return indigenous life to its rightful place in the greater scheme of things. The same applies to those that live in more urbanized areas, but on a smaller scale.
The Soft & Hard Landscape Approach
The term Hardscape applies to everything that touches landscape, but does not include plants. Hardscape materials can integrate well with Softscape material, and it clearly shows a human factor in the pursuit of an overall aesthetic appeal. One of the things Hardscape does, is harness nature and bring out the beneficial elements that appeal to people by using retaining walls, pathways, boulders, borders, mulches as accents and points of interest. Hardscape and Softscape exist as a means to help bridge the gap between artificiality and nature.
Softscape Landscape Design
We have all witnessed the over-watering of lawns and as such, we sometimes see water trickle away into a street drain. Shame! An irrigation system that employs sensors, to detect rainfall or humidity in the ground and thus reducing superfluous watering, is a good solution. However, a better solution is replacement of lawn with alternative plants that are irrigated using a slow drip system, which targets plants directly without over soaking areas that do not require watering.
The concept of permeable pavers is to help prevent water runoff flowing from hard surfaces and eventually drive it into the watershed. Permeable pavers are designed with nobs, that provide more gaps than the usual interlock gap between the paver joints. This permits water to infiltrate through coarse fill-in material between the joints, allowing water to seep under the paved surface.
The idea of collecting water from rainfall has two main benefits. First, it helps reduce large, untreated amounts of water from reaching the watershed. Second, it provides a supplemental source of water to be used directly for outdoor jobs, such as irrigation of gardens, washing vehicles and washing windows, just to name a few. In return, this alleviates the demand on potable water supply from the city water and wells. The two main sources to harvest water from are roofs via the downspouts, and driveways and patios via permeable pavers.
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