Add More Sustainability to Your Landscape

— Written By Anelle Ammons and last updated by
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Does your landscape need a tune-up to help it be more sustainable? Even if you have a small space, there are a ton of great ideas that can help you recycle more nutrients and utilize your space more efficiently to keep your landscape as self-sustaining as possible.

Creating a sustainable property should encompass many different aspects, one of which is producing a large amount of food. That doesn’t mean you have to pull out a tractor and till up a new spot in your yard to create the iconic vegetable garden that might come to mind. In fact, there are many reasons why incorporating vegetable plants closer to the house are of greater advantage. You can mix them into your flower beds, place them in pots near your front walk, or even grow them in containers on balconies. The closer you grow food plants to your home, the more often you see them and perform maintenance on them, such as weeding. By spreading out those tasks, it makes each task not as cumbersome, and it becomes more rewarding to watch your food grow. Additionally, varying food so that it isn’t all one row of the same thing helps build diversity in the landscape and increases the chance that the ecosystem will be balanced and keep pests in check.

Maybe you don’t have a huge yard or a large farm to spread out and grow a ton of different crops. Utilizing space saving design aspects can help you get more yield from that same space. Keyhole gardens are a great way to create a more efficient space. A keyhole garden is a round garden with a small walkway into the middle to turn around. Minimizing pathways means there’s that much more space for growing food. The size of the bed from inner circle to outer circle is four feet across so that all areas of the bed are accessible for a two-foot arm length. This way, the entire area within that circle can be filled with a variety of fruit, vegetable, and flower crops, boosting the efficiency of the space. This garden design also offers a fun place for small children to hide!

Another great way to increase sustainability in the landscape is by composting and then using that composted material on your property to rebuild soil nutrients. A compost pile can be as simple as gathering up leaves into a pile, or it can be a fancy store-bought container that tumbles to turn the compost. Either way, the end product will be the same. By adding more yard trimmings and vegetable scraps from your kitchen, turning it a few times a year, and letting nature do the work, you turn those waste products into a rich compost full of nutrients and organic matter to benefit your landscape. By keeping those nutrients on your property, you are maintaining a more sustainable property while also keeping valuable nutrients out of the landfill.

Whether you’re looking to revamp a whole yard or just add some new sustainable elements to your property, there are tons of great ideas out there that can help make your landscape more self-sufficient. If you need more ideas, call me at the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Catawba County Center (828-465-8240) or join me for the upcoming Sustainable Landscaping Ideas class on December 11, 2018, at 10 a.m.

Keyhole garden diagram

A keyhole garden is a very space efficient planting design


Growing food in containers near the house increases beauty and accessibility while reducing work.