Spring is a great time of year to do an assessment of the health of the lawns and landscape on your property and make plans for maintenance and new projects. Take this time to do an annual inspection of trees and shrubs and look for broken branches or damage. Also inspect irrigation systems and outdoor lighting to ensure that they are working properly and that the timers are set correctly.
It is important to think about ways to increase your sustainable practices. They not only help the environment but can save money by cooling the area around buildings, reduce air pollution and dust as well as run-off and erosion and produce more oxygen.
Most professional landscape companies can provide advice and guidance to your association board about how you can improve your sustainable practices. They can help you use water more efficiently, recycle water if allowed in your area, choose drought resistant plants, create a composting system, etc. Many also offer a choice of organic or synthetic products for care of your lawn, landscape plants and trees.
The following are a few things you can do to help make your property more sustainable.
- Learn about your property. Understanding your property’s resources and challenges is key to making good decisions about your plants, soil, water and wildlife. Knowledge of your site is an essential part of applying the other principles.
- Choose the right plant for the right spot. If a plant is in a location where it must struggle to survive, chances are it will require additional water, fertilizers or pesticides to improve the situation. A properly located plant will require less maintenance and pruning, and avoid the cost and waste of replacing it.
- Build healthy soil and use fertilizer responsibly. Healthy and fertile soil is necessary for good plant growth, supports microorganisms, and results in plants that are more resistant to disease and pests. Get your soil tested before adding fertilizer.
- Reduce waste and recycle nutrients. Reducing yard waste that otherwise could be sent to a landfill lowers the need to create more or larger landfill operations. Recycling nutrients through composting and recycling grass clippings (grass cycling) reduces the need for fertilizers or other soil supplements.
- Manage yard pests responsibly. Misuse of pesticides can pose health risks to families and pets, and can contaminate water supplies. By applying pesticides only after other measures have proven ineffective, and by following label directions, you can protect the environment and reduce exposure to chemicals.
- Use water wisely. Eliminating waste and using water efficiently will save money and help when droughts strike. Consult with a landscape professional about new smart irrigation controllers and other water saving devices.
- Mow and prune responsibly. Proper mowing and pruning practices can help reduce pesticide, water and fertilizer use by keeping plants healthy and resistant to disease. Reduced use of pesticides and fertilizers lessens the possibility of water pollution in the environment.
- Prevent landscape pollution. Preventing pollution is essential to environmental stewardship and includes constant vigilance in keeping pesticides, fertilizers, fuels, pet waste or other contaminants out of all water sources.
- Reduce stormwater runoff. By keeping stormwater from running off onto neighboring properties, you can help prevent flooding, erosion and water pollution. Keeping stormwater on-site helps recharge groundwater supplies.
Look for an experienced landscape company to consult with about sustainability issues. Research companies and talk to those that have staff who specialize in sustainability practices and also staff who are accredited in water management. They will provide a well educated opinion and suggestions about improvements to your sustainability and water management practices. There are a number of different accreditation’s that apply including, Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor, Water Management Technician and Landscape Industry Certified as well as additional state certifications.