The effort to create sustainable landscape planning and design is gaining ground through a national effort by the SGA. With water rationing in some parts of the country, designing to these conditions with suitable planters will compel first-priority strategies to assure owners of desirable results.
Sustainable Gardening Australia (SGA)
For a brief overview of their landscape planning principles:
- Reduce the requirement for energy inputs: petrol, chemicals and fertilizers; deploy on-site green waste treatment.
- Design to reduce the need for high water input above that naturally provided in the region.
- Integrate biodiversity.
- Design to include vegetative biomass to aid in carbon stabilization.
- Include produce where possible.
- Reduce the risk of weed propagation.
- Avoid materials that damage natural systems where they are sourced.
- Design to prevent runoff that may effect local systems, via erosion.
Sustainable landscape planning and design comes in several forms.
The patio, terrace or veranda setting essentially eliminates the need for soil regeneration and subsequent soaking. By planting in plant planters, moisture can be retained longer, requiring less hydration. Using materials like bougainvillia, agave, anigozanhus, lavender and ornamental grass (as shown in this patio vignette by Altman Plants) sets a good example. Using cactus as border material is also recommended, along with aloe, echeveria, aeonium and kalanchoe. Deployed as the star attraction, the giant variety cactus performs well as a focal point for larger sites.
In place of a hard-surface area, preparing soil mixtures capable of retaining water for longer periods will sustain plant materials that require water on a regular basis.
A retention pond, that can redistribute rainwater to prepared soil through an installed irrigation system, is not only functional but can be designed as an attractive visual feature. With a slight slope to it from the perimeter of the site, it will also take care of any possible undesireable runoff in inconvenient locations. Shallow and broad functions more efficiently than deep and narrow. They can also be planted peripherally. Swales will perform a similar function should the site be unable to accommodate a pond.
Education and Inspiration
Owners need to be shown a range of Australian water-less species by an expert designer who enjoys developing landscape plans and ideas that balances peoples’ concerns with their visual and sustainable values. Referring to the Sydney Royal Botanical, which features a ball cactus, sitting in a bed of fine-grain stained gravel, is reminiscent of a Japanese design and shows how the aesthetic value of cactus can be featured.
Design inspiration may come in the form of the cactus’ natural habitat. Using materials that accompany them, as a base plan, suggests the use of of submerged plant planters to retain the effect of a natural habitat – again, preventing moisture from leaching into the surrounding soil.
Using local species in formal landscape design (particularly installed in arid regions) educates the public and owners to the concept of Green Design. Examples like these can reorient the public to the possibilities of using similar measures in their residential gardens.
For additional information, please follow this link to SGA’s website. Also feel free to comment your thoughts below.