The ’S’ word. Over used and not understood, especially sustainability in home landscapes. Frequently used to green-wash a product (present an environmentally responsible public image with disinformation). The common definition of a sustainability is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs”. The Native American Iroquois are credited with promoting a similar sentiment, "In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation... “. How great if we would all think this before every decision or purchase we make; how this decision will impact our families 7 generations down the line.
My favorite definition is from William McDonough, the architect that was involved in the budding green movement back in the 70’s. “How do we love all children, of all species, of all time?” In other words, we have to think about more than just the humans.
Home Landscapes And Sustainability - How I Deliver
In my work, I want to help you, the average homeowner become as sustainable as you can on your small piece of this third planet from the sun we call home. It can sometimes feel impossible to make a difference, but if every one of the 75 million single family homes in the suburban US were to make a small effort, real change can be made.
In our home landscapes, when we think about that definition “How do we love all children, of all species, of all time?” we should think about the smallest of creatures, the insects. If we can create habitable homes for them in our landscapes, they will in turn will pollinate our fruits, flowers and vegetables, provide honey, break down and dispose of waste, and become a food source for many reptiles, birds and mammals. They are the ‘canary in the coal mine’, or keystone species as scientists would say. The ecosystem is dependent on them.
For me, sustainable design in home landscapes is simply good design guided by solid environmental goals. Sustainable design, or “green” design, is what landscape architects have been educated and trained to do. We take careful site and resource analyses, along with site planning and design, to make the most of a given place. The green revolution has opened up the conversation, giving our clients a common language and us an opportunity to educate them. Let's plant more native plants. Let's do better storm water management – with rain gardens and green roofs, and let's tread more lightly on the earth. Let's plant more trees.
If you have any questions or comments please add them below. I would love to hear them!