Since tomorrow, April 22, is Earth Day, we thought our blog this week should relate to sustainable ideas for your outdoor living spaces. We only have one planet, and we can all do our part to reduce our carbon footprint.
While there are many areas where you can have an individual impact, such as driving an electric vehicle, there are many things you can do when upgrading your outdoor living spaces. Let’s take a look.
Use Permeable Pavers for Your Driveway or Patio
One of the most significant sustainable ideas for your outdoor living spaces is using permeable pavers for your driveway, patio, walkways, or all three areas. Suppose you plan to build a new patio with pavers or replace an asphalt driveway with pavers.
In that case, permeable pavers are a beautiful and eco-friendly way to handle stormwater runoff. Techo-Bloc has numerous options for pavers that can be installed in permeable applications.
Unlike concrete and asphalt pavers, a permeable paver system allows rainwater and snowmelt to percolate into the soil beneath the surface rather than letting it run off into the storm sewer, which benefits the Chesapeake Bay.
The one drawback for most homeowners is that permeable pavers are more expensive than standard pavers. But if you live in certain areas, your local municipality may have a rebate program to help pay for the additional cost. In our area, these municipalities include:
- Prince George’s County ($12 per sq. ft.)
- Montgomery County ($14 per sq. ft.)
- Anne Arundel County (10% reduction in property taxes for qualified projects)
Follow the links to learn more about the requirements for your project to qualify for the rebate or tax break, as well as what the lifetime limits are.
Replace Some Turfgrass with Garden Beds or Hardscaping
The American love affair with large expanses of turf grass causes a lot of air and water pollution. It’s not the grass that causes this pollution, but the chemicals we put on our lawns and the gasoline we use to run our lawnmowers and leaf blowers. According to Princeton University research, these small engines can release more toxic emissions in an hour than the average passenger vehicle because of how these small engines operate.
While you could opt for an electric lawnmower, that’s not a viable solution for most suburban homeowners. Nevertheless, you can reduce air and water pollution by reducing the amount of turfgrass on your property through measures such as expanding your patio or driveway.
However, the easiest way is to create new garden beds and plant new trees. The less grass you have to mow, the less you pollute.
Use Native Plants in Your Landscaping
Whether starting from scratch with a custom landscape design or tearing out dead shrubs and replacing them with another shrub or flowers, choose native plants whenever you can.
There are many colorful and attractive plants to choose from that will do well because they are already adapted to our area. Many native plants are also drought-tolerant, reducing the need to water or run a sprinkler.
Related Reading: Why You Should Use Native Plants in Your Landscaping
Plant a Pollinator Garden
Part of the benefit of using native plants is that they are friendly to pollinators and other beneficial insects. Some imported and hybrid flowers, shrubs, and trees are not.
You can plant a pollinator garden pretty easily, and if you like flowers, you will also have your own cutting garden.
Related Reading: Beneficial Insects and How to Attract Them to Your Yard
Plant a Vegetable Garden or Herb Garden
If you like to eat fresh veggies and add fresh herbs to your dishes, you could also plant a vegetable or herb garden to reduce the amount of turfgrass you have. Even an 8’ x 8’ garden can host some of your favorite vegetables and herbs.
You can also try a vertical garden or growing plants in raised beds or pots. Gardening can be therapeutic, and you can eat the results of your labor!
Related Reading: How to Start an Herb Garden in 5 Easy Steps
Buy Sustainable Patio Furniture
Last but not least, when you buy patio furniture and other accessories for your outdoor living spaces, think about sustainability. Multiple outdoor furniture companies use reclaimed, recycled, and responsibly-sourced materials to create comfortable and cozy patio furniture you’ll enjoy for years to come.
Check out this blog on sustainable outdoor furniture from the folks at Good Trade to learn more about these companies and their products.
If any of these ideas sound doable to you, start small. It can be overwhelming to try and do everything all at once.
Choose the idea that appeals to you and your budget. If you have kids, consider getting them involved in the brainstorming and implementation of your project.
Dream It. Build It. Live It.
If you’re dreaming about turning your property into an outdoor oasis but want to be environmentally conscious, we know the two goals are not mutually exclusive.
We design and build custom pools, patios, and other hardscape elements and create beautiful and innovative landscape design plans for our clients that can and do incorporate many of the ideas listed above.
Check out our Portfolio for examples of our work and to gain inspiration, and then contact us for a design consultation. We work with homeowners throughout the Capital Region, including Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.