There is a term that landscape architects have used for over a decade that is now becoming a household name: “Sustainable Landscapes.”
Even in New Hampshire, the effects of a growing population have put a strain on natural wildlife habitats.
Many home builders and home developers have embraced Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design* (LEED) standards in making the home construction itself more energy efficient and carbon-neutral. This is a great first step, but there is still much work to be done regarding the use and low-impact development of the land itself.
What is sustainable landscaping? A sustainable landscape is a regenerative ecosystem that responds naturally to the environmental conditions where it grows, and provides value in developing healthy communities. Basically, sustainable landscaping is a holistic approach to land development and landscape design. Nature, in its undisturbed state, is a sustainable landscape. At Terrain Planning and Design, our highest goal in both land planning and landscape architecture is to provide a beautiful outdoor living experience, yet at the same time reduce the impact we have on the natural surroundings.
What sustainable landscaping is not. Rather than describe what a sustainable landscape design looks like, it’s easier to describe what is more commonly found. We have all seen home building developments where the trees have been cleared out, the land bulldozed, and homes built along a main asphalt street. Because there is no shade, turf grass becomes the least expensive choice for erosion control. Because there is turf grass, lawn irrigation becomes necessary.
In a typical home development, there are usually tree planting specifications required according to town building codes. Unfortunately, the selection of these landscape plants tend to be mono cultures (plants of the same genus/species) or shrubs chosen for their flower color but are not native to the region. This makes them susceptible to insects and disease. The turf grass needs chemicals to stay green and weed-free. The newly planted trees and shrubs need to be sprayed to keep insects and disease from attacking.
It’s more than just your yard. Sustainable landscaping is not simply selecting native species of plants in a landscape. The goal of sustainable landscaping is to establish natural habitats and connect these habitats with corridors of natural vegetation. These “corridors” allow wildlife to move freely back and forth and sustain themselves on the three basic things wildlife need to survive- food, water, and cover. Many home developments in a concentrated area interrupt the natural migration of wildlife. Without the ability to move freely in search of food, the existence of some native species of wildlife are threatened with extinction.
When you call Terrain Planning & Design for land planning services or landscape design, you can expect to hear about sustainable landscaping practices. While we work very hard to give our clients exactly what they want, we also take very seriously our sense of responsibility to the planet we all share.
*LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) is a trademarked term of the United States Green Building Council.