Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Low-Maintenance Design
and Sustainable Landscape Development...

Design and manage gardens and landscapes

in a natural way

A “younger couple” down the road from us, and an “older couple” up the hill both have gone au naturel…in their landscaping practices, that is.

In the beginning, some of the residents in our village expressed concern about their property values. They were worried that when these "adventurers" ceased to mow and weed, brought in native plants and tress, and let nature take its course, it would be a detriment to the neigborhood. But, judging from the positive talk around here, our innovators with their low-maintenance, sustainable landscape, will be showing a number of us how to design and manage our gardens and landscapes in a similar manner.

As it turns out, giving nature the thumbs-up, even in a small way in existing landscapes, works for all of us in the neighborhood. By shifting to a low-maintenance approach, trading out plants that demand a lot of attention and substituting plants that seem to do well on their own, many of us have found more time to be “neighborly” . Many of us are way less exhausted on the weekend when we get together. The lawns are smaller, but the landscaping is mighty attractive with ground covers and shrubs, and mulch praising our efforts for sustainable landscape design. .

,,,and.... what about the benefits ?

REDUCED money, water, chemicals and labor.
INCREASED wildlife habitat and viewing.
Increased probability of a strong foundation that invites other wild plants to come in and grow.
Increased time to live with and learn about each other and the plants used – adaptable, drought-tolerant, insect- and disease-resistant –
LESS EFFORT— self-sustaining systems do NOT require a lot of effort or input on our part – something everyone can enjoy...

including our dog! (pictured above)

If you are living here in Asheville, or if you are relocating to Western North Carolina be sure to talk with the ECO-STEWARD Real Estate Firm. Our network of contacts can provide assistance when it comes to design and development of sustainable landscapes..

Possibly a good starting point, requiring no commitment except for your curiosity is simply to look around at our roadside landscapes. Here you will see the result of the efforts of the horticultural staff at The North Carolina Arboretum. Over the years, they have taken numerous adventures in developing sustainable landscapes, on difficult slopes, and in the process have saved tax-payers some money, it seems as management requirements are reduced. Next, you may choose to visit with arboretum staff to collect some ideas.

Our neighbors began by just not mowing a small area of lawn. They let it grow, and were soon surprised to see perennials and annuals (who apparently had been in hiding beneath the lawn for who knows how long, )pop up in all their splendor Deeming that a success, they began to plug in native sedge and grasses, perennials, shrubs and small bulbs. This new vision turned out to be an excellent barrier for weed suppression. They are in to their third year now and we rarely see them out weeding.

Of course, we all appreciate the fact that our au naturel neighbors consulted with experts and went to great lengths to design the landscape. The result is not a wild frenzy of unattractive weeds as some might have feared. What we see resembles inviting garden spots on the ridge where we all live. Because they took the time to know their sites, chose plants that do well in our soil conditions, involved many of us in the fun of laying out the plants, where we were only asked to keep in mind a few basic design principles (such as putting tall plants in back and short ones up front again, we all benefited. Ask the neighbors now, and you will be told that working with nature in landscaping does save time and money. And it adds the joy of new found harmony and balance in our daily lives and in the community and environment around us.

Low-Maintenance Design and Sustainable Landscape Development

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