Sustainable landscape design

We have developed a tool that we have called a sustainability calculator that encourages designers to check a finished design against a number of features that demonstrate sustainability focus for the design. The image below shows a design on the right and and the landscape sustainability calculator in action on the left.

YouTube movie We take a design for the rear of a house in Holland and apply the gCADPlus sustainability calculator to improve the design.

Sustainability – some thoughts from Ross Uebergang –

Sustainability in the landscape is a must. We live in a world of finite resources.

  • Reflect: If I want a deck, do you really need one this size? How often will I have 80 people on my deck? Could I go without or could I use a substitute?
  • Reduce: Can I set my areas up to use less energy?
  • Refuse: If what is proposed is a bad idea say no. You may not need it or there may be a suitable substitute.
  • Reuse: In the rebuild, is this material really at the end of its useable life? Can I find another use for it? Can I find someone else who has a use for it?
  • Recycle: Can this material be processed to have a new life? This is the next alternative to reusing. Can I use a recycled product instead?
Tips for gardeners

Mulch and Compost – Go to a local landscape supplies center and use their courtesy trailer or get it delivered. The mulch will mean less watering, better soil structure, and healthier plants while limiting the number of weeds that pop up in your garden and spread throughout your neighbourhood. Depending on the style of mulch you choose you could spend as little as $30 per 10m2 if you use your local council mulch or around $60 for decorative mulches. Compost will create healthy soil that needs much fewer additives.

Choose sustainable materials – If you must put in hard surfaces like decking, paving, pergolas, etc, choose materials that have low embodied energies. This is the energy needed to extract, manufacture, transport and install your product. Not only should the materials you use in the landscape be low in embodied energy, but they should also have reasonable longevity. A fantastic choice for low to medium use paths is local toppings.

Limit the use of hardscapes – How often will you actually have 80 people in your backyard to fill a massive deck? Consider if space could be filled with plants instead.

Line your fences with Fruit Trees – Fruit trees keep on giving with low maintenance. If you don’t have the time to be putting in vegetables every 12 weeks and maintaining a vegetable garden, perhaps fruit trees are for you. They require limited maintenance and you do not have to replant every season. Each year more dwarf varieties come out that take up less space which is fantastic for the small garden. Generally in the Australian garden, fruit trees require sun for most of the day to provide fruit that is plentiful and tastes good. A fence line is a great spot to find this sun.

Can I fix it? – Your deck might be looking a little ragged at the moment but perhaps all it needs is a smarter choice of decking boards. Perhaps it just needs a fresh coat of oil. Maybe a coat of paint on the back fence will revitalize the plantings that you have in front of them.

We love the philosophy adopted by one of our gCADPlus users. Visit sparethoughts landscape design.