How to create a sustainable landscape


OSU master gardener volunteer


Is your landscape sustainable? Just what does it mean? Sustainable landscape is a holistic approach, defined as an area that is diverse enough to stay resilient and to continue to produce.

It should be self-sustaining over long periods of time and harmonize with the local ecosystem (weather, insects, humans, etc.). If bad weather occurs in the area, it should be able to recover quickly.

A sustainable landscape requires less attention, reduces waste and energy and creates a balanced relationship between all plant materials.

Your landscape has impact on the environment. Principles put into practice in your backyard do make a difference in several ways.

By planting for pollinators, fruit and vegetable production will increase. Using native plants will benefit pollinators, birds and wildlife. Diversity in plants will bring excitement to your landscape. A bonus is that it is great way to downsize yard chores.

This all sounds like a great thing to strive for. But how can you do it?

It will take some thought and planning to transform your landscape to meet sustainability suggestions. Many simple things can make a big difference. It need not be an expensive undertaking. Here’s a few tips to incorporate:

Stop the pursuit of the golf course-like yard.

Reduce the size of your lawn by planting native trees, shrubs and perennials.

Mow the yard less often. Let grass reach at least 3 inches between mowings.

Leave the grass on the yard, it will provide organic matter and supplemental nutrients your yard needs.

Compost fruit and vegetable scraps along with yard waste.

Be sure you are not planting invasive species.

Water deeply and less frequently.

Use rain barrels to catch rain – use only on nonedibles.

Support local nurseries and garden centers. Buy stock that is grown locally rather than plants that are shipped from out of state.

Get your soil tested and only apply fertilizer and other nutrients as indicated.

Plant shade trees to shade your home.

Manage surface water and runoff.

Creating and maintaining sustainable landscapes in our communities will put us on the path to a better world for all.

To learn about selecting plants, reducing pest pressure, choosing hardscape materials and more for a sustainable landscape at your home, go to

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