While standards exist for sustainable structures-“green buildings”-there are no comprehensive guidelines or performance benchmarks for those who want to create and measure sustainable landscapes.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a stakeholder in the Sustainable Sites Initiative, anticipates incorporating guidelines and performance benchmarks into future iterations of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™.

Some of the sustainable landscape solutions currently available are:

  • Reduction of stormwater run-off through the use of bio-swales, rain gardens and green roofs and walls.
  • Reduction of water use in landscapes through design of water-wise garden techniques (sometimes known as xeriscaping).
  • Bio-filtering of wastes through constructed wetlands.
  • Landscape irrigation using water from showers and sinks, known as gray water.
  • Integrated Pest Management techniques for pest control.
  • Creating and enhancing wildlife habitat in urban environment.
  • Energy-efficient landscape design in the form of proper placement and selection of shade trees and creation of wind breaks.
  • 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 waste.
  • Use of sustainably harvested wood, composite wood and plastic lumber products for decking and other landscape projects.
  • Recycling of products like glass, rubber from tires and other materials to create landscape products such as paving stones and mulch.
  • Soil management techniques like composting kitchen and yard wastes, to maintain and enhance healthy soil.
  • Integration and adoption of renewable energy, including solar-powered landscape lighting.

6 Landscaping Secrets We Stole From the Farmers

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