A love for the environment comes naturally with a love for the outdoors. Unfortunately, we can’t always take a trip to the wilderness every time we need a little quality time with Mother Nature. You can however transform your backyard into your own little oasis — just make sure to do so responsibly and with an eco-conscious mind.
Autumn is the time of year to plan next year’s gardening and yard strategy. Consider these examples of environmentally friendly renovations to create your own backyard oasis.
Become a Xeriscape Artist
No backyard is complete without some trees and plants to keep you company. But keep in mind that not all green things are meant to grow in your climate. Find out which plants are native to your region and use those to landscape your yard. This will use less water, make your yard easier to maintain, and create an inviting space for native birds and wildlife.
The use of native plants can be especially useful when trying to attract pollinators. Exotic plants can often upset the balance of wild plants and animals in your region, while native plants attract pollinators and wildlife that help your yard and surrounding areas thrive. Xeriscaping is especially useful if you live in the Southwest or other arid regions where water is scarce.
Composting and Rainwater Harvesting
To really make use of your outdoor space and natural resources, set up a compost system. Composting cuts down on waste and creates natural fertilizer for your yard that is chemical-free.
Also, consider setting up a rainwater harvesting system. You can go the traditional route by diverting rain from usual runoff spots into an above-ground barrel and then using that water for plants and gardens. You can also, as the Landscaping Network suggests, use bioswales and grading to automatically divert water to where you need it most. Consider creating a rain garden where you place plants that use more water around bioswales and where rainwater goes most often.
Upgrade What You Already Have
Your house may already have a high-maintenance lawn or swimming pool that makes you cringe when you think of the resources they use, but there are ways to cut your carbon footprint with these things as well.
- For example, replace turfgrass with wildflowers, ornamental grasses, or shrubs.
- For a swimming pool, install energy-saving tools such as an efficient pool pump and timer.
- You can also install a solar cover, which warms the pool with solar energy and saves water from evaporating.
With any expensive upgrade, consider getting a home warranty, so if something breaks you can fix it for a reduced cost instead of throwing it out and buying something new. Reusing and repairing cuts down on landfill waste and saves money.
Decorate With Recycled or Sustainable Materials
Of course, you want to set up a nice sitting area in your backyard, but be aware of the kinds of materials you use in these features.
- For decks, patios, and fences, use sustainable materials such as bamboo, reclaimed materials, or natural stone.
- Buying used patio furniture or reclaiming or “upcycling” old furniture saves you tons of money and reduces waste. Plus, well-loved items have more character and comfort than mass-produced products.
With some conservation and creativity, you can create an environmentally friendly backyard oasis you’ll never want to leave.
10 Xeriscaping Ideas
The following infographic from HomeCity offers useful xeriscaping ideas for those who live in dry climates. As more communities experience water restrictions, xeriscaping offers an environmentally friendly solution for beautiful, water-smart landscaping wherever you live.
Feature image courtesy of Chun Kit To (Flickr). Originally published on February 15, 2016, this article was updated in September 2021.