Benefits of Green Landscaping in the Mid-Atlantic
Save Time and Money
Formal landscapes and lawns are heavily dependent upon mechanical equipment, labor, pesticides, fertilizers, and supplemental watering. Collectively we spend millions of dollars on lawn care each year. The average 1-acre lawn costs $1000 and requires 40 hours of labor each year to maintain -- much more than a natural landscape.
Reduce Water Pollution
Natural landscapes reduce the quantity and improve the quality of stormwater runoff. This reduces erosion and runoff from excess application and improper use and disposal of pesticides and fertilizers as well as spills during refueling of power equipment.
Clearing land and extensive use of grass as a groundcover increases runoff. Lawns absorb less stormwater than woodlands or a property with a diverse planting of trees, shrubs, and ground covers. Grading and landscaping aimed at moving rainwater off site as quickly as possible not only increases flooding, but lowers groundwater supplies and increases stream pollution.
Reduce Air Pollution
Emissions from landscaping equipment (mowers, blowers, trimmers, etc.) are often much greater than that of a car for each hour of operation. Small gasoline-powered engines are the most polluting. And, older equipment tends to be worse than newer models.
Reduce Noise Pollution
In warm weather, residential areas are rarely peaceful due to noise from the use of mechanical landscaping equipment and vehicles. Plus, operators of the equipment are in danger of hearing loss.
Reduce Consumption of Natural Resources
The world only has a limited supply of natural resources and consumption rates are increasing. Typical landscaping requires:
- energy to fuel landscaping equipment (gasoline and coal, oil and/or natural gas to generate electricity)
- water to irrigate plants (30% of water consumption in the US is for outdoor uses)
- soil lost through erosion after the removal of peat moss (used to improve soil) - peat moss often comes from wetlands
Reduce Solid Waste
RECIPE FOR COMPOST
Mix together and moisten and turn occasionally until dark and crumbly (several weeks to a year):
1 part "green" = fresh grass clippings, manure, garden plants, and fruit and vegetable scraps
3 parts "brown" = dried leaves and plants, branches, and woody materials
Use the compost around trees, shrubs, perennials, and even house plants to deter weeds, improve soil structure and retain moisture.
About 13% of all municipal solid waste is yard waste like grass clippings and leaves. While some is picked up and composted by municipalities, over 40% still ends up in landfills. Another 13% of municipal solid waste is comprised of food scraps and less than 3% of this is composted.
Improved Health and Safety
Reduce exposure to chemical pesticides -- Many gardeners over apply or improperly apply pesticides, putting themselves, their families, and pets at increased health risk.
Reduce or eliminate accidents from power tools and equipment -- About 230,000 people each year in the US are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries related to lawn and garden equipment. Plus, our clean air and drinking water are impacted from pesticides and garden equipment emissions.
Improve Biodiversity (the number and variety of plants and animals)
Planting native species provides food and shelter for the insects, birds and animals that evolved along with them. Development has result in significant clearing of natural areas and fragmentation of wildlife habitat. In managing our private and public lands we can providing food, shelter, water and connectivity to mitigate this historic loss. While less than 10% of all insects are harmful to plants, many pesticides are harmful or lethal to all insects.
No species, not even humans, can survive alone on our planet -- we are all connected and dependent upon an intricate web of life from single celled plants floating in our oceans to the largest trees and animals.
Eliminate Invasive Plants
Invasive plants can escape and take over natural areas which have been cleared and mismanaged. Non-native plants can choke out the wide variety of native plants on which our wildlife depends.
Plants can significantly reduce a building's energy needs since it's cooler in the shade of trees and warmer behind plants that block the winter winds. Plant deciduous trees (those that lose their leaves in winter) on the south and west sides of a building where the sun's rays are most direct and intense. These trees will provide shade during summer but permit the winter sun to provide warmth. Where there isn't room for trees, shrubs and vines can provide similar benefits.
The Department of Energy found that carefully positioned trees can save up to 25% of a household’s energy consumption for heating and cooling. Trees can reduce an unshaded home’s summer air-conditioning costs by 15% to 50%. One Pennsylvania study reported air-conditioning savings of as much as 75% for small mobile homes.
Plus trees are good for the environment because they store carbon and produce oxygen.