Giving Back to Our Plant Environment
As we exit this past year of chaos, it is almost therapeutic to reflect on what we can do as a human race to give back, appreciate what we have, and help sustain our planet. The landscape profession lends itself naturally to this concept. Nature. Plants. Green. Natural.
It goes hand in hand with the concepts of conservation, sustainability and appreciation. We work in an industry that appreciates nature and it graces us with the ability to give back.
With every project as well as with the day-to-day grind of landscape maintenance comes the responsibility to operate with integrity. Integrity with the humans that cross our paths and with the tiny portion of the planet that we have been trusted to work with.
As the challenges of sustaining an ever-growing planet continue to increase, it is our responsibility as landscape professionals to pursue methods of operation that will assist in facing those challenges.
As an industry, we have heeded that call and changed our course in how we operate.
Several methods and practices have become standard operating procedure in our world that lend to the sustainability of this planet while creating new opportunities for profit:
Drought has brought awareness to the precious and limited resource of water. By far, the greatest use of water goes to the sustainability of turf. Years ago, the largest portions of square footage in the landscape were the turf areas. Drought changes this mindset. There is a standard 40% reduction in water usage just by eliminating turf. If you want to contribute but just can’t give up that picnic area, artificial turf has become an increasingly popular option. It should be our responsibility to provide all the information to a potential customer about how their chosen course of action will affect not only their small portion of the world but the world itself.
Installation of more efficient and water conserving irrigation systems is essential to the sustainability of our environment. Converting overhead spray systems to drip or bubbler systems often reduces water consumption along the same lines as a turf conversion. Our industry is continually releasing innovative products that deliver water in more efficient ways.
Native and Drought Resistant Plant Material
No longer are we desiring the tropical landscape in the desert. As we have become increasingly aware, our needs and comforts are changing. The only way to sustain a plant in the wrong environment is usually by lots of water. We are beginning to accept that this is not an acceptable practice in a world where conservation is necessary. The beneficial result of this change in mindset is the discovery of the beauty that is present in drought resistant and native plants.
Organic Based Products
The struggle of efficiency and profit compared to operating in an environmentally responsible manner is a never-ending struggle. We are all aware of the recent Round Up chronicles that have been plastered all over the news outlets. What this has done, much like the droughts, is created increased awareness and inspired innovation. Natural and organic based products for weed control and fertilization are beginning to show up in the market more and more. What was once an impractical, expensive, and unrealistic option is now beginning to find its way into the mainstream in a realistic way.
Electric and Battery Powered Equipment
Just as the auto industry has begun to look for environmentally friendly ways of delivering a product, so has the landscape industry. Air and noise pollution become an increasing burden on a growing population. Research on how to reduce our carbon footprint has grown alongside it. More efficient and affordable alternatives have and are becoming available.
So that is just a small sampling of action that is being taken in our little gardening world. In a worldview conversation, landscape seems like an insignificant piece of society and social change. It is not. Nearly every property that makes up a society contains some form of a landscape. To maintain that landscape in a responsible, sustainable way provides perhaps immeasurable benefit towards the sustainability of this planet. Perhaps we act small. We should think BIG!
This guest blog post was provided by Jocelle Maliwanag, Business Developer, American Heritage Landscape. AHL is a forerunner in the landscape management industry that has operated locally for the past 44 years. Visit www.americanheritagelandscape.com to learn more about their services.