Sustainable Landscaping
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Sustainable landscaping comprises numerous practices that address environmental issues related to the design, construction, implementation, and management of residential and commercial landscapes.

It is a field that is developing and expanding in response to environmental concerns, and is centered around numerous issues, some of which are inter-related. The response to these issues in the landscaping industry is widespread. Individual companies specialize in some of the newer technologies being used, and there is a larger effort, supported by the American Society of Landscape Architects, to introduce standards of practice within a points-based system. This system is known as the Sustainable Sites Intitiative, or SITES.


Sustainability Issues for Landscaping include:

  • Global Climate Change
  • Air Pollution
  • Water Pollution
  • Water Shortages and Drought
  • Stormwater Management
  • Pesticide Toxicity
  • Soil Health
  • Fertilizer Run-off
  • Non-Renewable Resources
  • Energy Usage


Non-sustainable practices result in contamination of soil, air and water; persistence of toxic compounds in the environment; non-sustainable consumption of natural resources; greenhouse gas emissions.

Non-sustainable practices result in contamination of soil, air and water; persistence of toxic compounds in the environment; non-sustainable consumption of natural resources; greenhouse gas emissions.


Individual topics are addressed on other pages of this website. For more information, click on the topic in the sidebar on the left.

Some of the solutions that have been developed are:

Reduction of stormwater run-off through the use of bio-swales, rain gardens, and green roofs and walls;

Permeable paving materials to reduce stormwater run-off and allow rain water to infiltrate into the ground and replenish groundwater rather than run into surface water;

Reduction of water use in landscapes through design of water-wise garden techniques, sometimes known as xeriscaping;

Water conservation techniques through rainwater harvesting (If you are looking for a way to save money at home while contributing to a more sustainable lifestyle, regulate your water with a flow meter);

Landscape irrigation using water from showers and sinks, known as gray water;

Bio-filtering of wastes through constructed wetlands;

Integrated Pest Management techniques for pest control;

Creating and enhancing wildlife habitat in urban and managed environments;

Energy-efficient landscape design in the form of proper placement and selection of shade trees, and creation of wind breaks;

Use of sustainably harvested wood, composite wood products for decking and other landscape projects, as well as use of plastic lumber;

Recycling of products, such as glass, rubber from tires and other materials to create landscape products such as paving stones, mulch and other materials;

Soil management techniques, including composting kitchen and yard wastes, to maintain and enhance healthy soil that supports a diversity of soil life;

Integration and adoption of renewable energy, including solar-powered landscape lighting;

Incorporating less-polluting landscaping tools and equipment, especially in the maintenance stage.

Aquascapes Rainwater Harvesting System. Viewed 1/22/2010.

American Society of Landscape Architects. Sustainable Sites Initiative. Viewed 1/22/2010.

Bender, L. and L. David. 2006. An inconvenient truth. [videorecording]. Paramount Classics and Participant Productions. Hollywood. 96 min.

Bisgrove, R. and P. Hadley. 2002. Gardening in the global greenhouse: the impact of climate change on gardens in the U.K. Technical report. UKCIP, Oxford.


Gore, A. 2006. An inconvenient truth: the planetary emergency of global warming and what we can do about it. Rodale Pr. Emmaus, Pa.

Loehrlein, et al. Sustainable Landscaping. Viewed January 2010.

Melby, Pete, and Thomas Cathcart. 2002. Regenerative design techniques: practical applications in landscape design. Wiley Pubs. NY.

Tilman, D. and C. Lehman. 2001. Human-caused environmental change: impacts on diversity and evolution. Nat. Acad. Sci.

The Brundtland Report

Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway, authored a report called Our Common Future when she was chair of the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development. The report led to the establishment of the Commission on Sustainable Development, among other things.

The term "sustainable" was defined in that report, and is often quoted and recognized as the common definition. It reads: "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". The report is now commonly referred to as the Brundtland Report.
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