Proper landscaping can help make your home more comfortable, energy efficient and water-wise as well as provide valuable habitat for native birds and fauna. Sustainable landscapes require minimal amounts of water, fertilisers, pesticides, labor, and building materials.
A sustainable landscape should be:
- Environmentally sound
- Cost effective
- Visually pleasing
Plants are not only essential for our own physical and spiritual health but provide many functions in a home garden. Consider the following when choosing plants for your garden:
- Grow local native species. These require less fertiliser, water and pesticides because they are adapted to local climate and soil conditions. Birds and insects attracted to local species will help to control pests and diseases. To find out which plants to grow in your area of Cockburn, and even where to buy them, see: http://www.cockburn.wa.gov.au/Council_Services/Environment/Fertilise_Wise_-_Local_Plant_Guides/;
- Select plants to suit the conditions in your garden (e.g. sun and wind exposure, soil type and soil moisture conditions) to minimise needs for chemicals and maintenance;
- Plant a wide variety of species that flower at different times of the year. Not only will you have a more interesting garden but it will provide year round habitat – especially for birds;
- Minimise lawn in your garden as it is the biggest consumer of water outdoors;
- Make room for a veggie patch – a full sun, north facing area is best.
In a typical Perth household up to 60% of water is used outdoors. Using local native plants in your garden can help to reduce watering needs and the following techniques will also help save money and water:
- Group plants with similar watering needs together and modify reticulation to deliver the correct amount of water in each area;
- Water plants early in the morning – ideally just before the sun comes up. This will minimise plants stress and evaporative loss of water;
- Use drip or subsurface reticulation. Overhead watering can cause plants to develop fungal diseases, and water is more readily evaporated, making it less efficient;
- Mulch garden beds with a rough mulch to reduce water evaporation from soil.
STRUCTURES AND FEATURES
Outdoor areas can be landscaped to help reduce heat build-up associated with urban areas and to reduce energy costs associated with air-conditioning. Techniques include:
- Reduce the amount of unshaded hard surfaces, such as concrete and pavers, around the home. These absorb and reflect heat into and around your home;
- Deciduous vines grown over pergolas to the north of the house or over courtyards are excellent landscaping features as they allow winter sunlight and warmth to penetrate but exclude hot summer sun. Their leaves also provide evaporative cooling;
- Make sure you plan spaces to enjoy your garden in winter and summer.