Steps for Planning Your Sustainable Landscape



Landscape planning is done step by step. Being sustainable means not only going green, but also preserving resources. You will have the most success staying green by preserving resources.

You will get the most from your efforts with planning.  Deciding in advance what you want to do, how you are going to do it, and what it will cost will give you confidence and a clear course of action.  The first step is to define your goals.


Defining your goals.

What is it you want to achieve in your new landscape or garden? Each homeowner has a different idea of what they are hoping for, and the best way to begin is to decide in advance what that is. Some considerations when setting goals might be:



Planning ahead is necessary for sustainability.  


                  • Purpose
                  • Beautification
                  • Conservation
                  • Practicality
                  • Function
                  • Effectiveness
                  • Renewal, Repair or  Regeneration
                  • Cost Effectiveness
                  • Stewardship


Goal setting gives you a target on which to aim your sights on.  You can always amend them once you get started, so don’t let concerns over the end results keep you from setting some benchmarks now.


Perform a Site Survey

Make note of unsightly utilitiesA site survey is a where you collect valuable information for your plan.  When you do it properly, it points out all the important site features and characteristics.  It includes both positive features as well as any problem areas that might have a negative impact on the landscape and possibly end up reducing sustainability.

The kinds of things you will want to include in your site survey are:

          • Topography - The shape of the land
          • Soil - What the ground is made of
          • Hydrology - The water table and water movement on your property
          • Existing Vegetation - What kinds of plant material are present
          • Circulation - How people move in the landscape
          • Utilities - Gas/power lines, septic tanks, or waterways
          • Views - Include both the pleasant and undesirable views

Ignoring the site survey, taking shortcuts in the preparation stage and rushing your landscape installation are never successful ways to develop a sustainable landscape.


Consider weather when planning your site.

Your site survey should ideally take place in different kinds of weather. Take a lot of pictures of current conditions to visually document what you find.  Prioritize the areas that need the most improvement.

The benefit from the money you will spend improving your site conditions before landscape installation is not as immediately apparent as what you spend on the visible features in your landscape.  However, the site preparation is essential to reducing yearly maintenance and replacement expenses, saving you money in the long run.

Remember, developing your landscape plan is not a race and moving faster is not necessarily better. Slow and steady gets you to green.



Next: Site Analysis

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