Landscaping can increase property value, improve a home’s aesthetic appeal and benefit the environment. In fact, a property’s value can increase by up to 20% if mature trees are incorporated into the landscape.
Trees play a vital role in creating an eco-friendly landscape design. Eco-friendly landscaping is also known as green landscaping or sustainable landscaping. This design style takes environmental issues like sustainability into account to create an ecologically stable area.
When creating sustainable landscaping, it’s important to evaluate surrounding wildlife, existing materials and pollution. Biological agents — like toxic waste and pesticide chemicals — contaminate the soil and affect humans, plants and animals alike. A well-designed landscape will be beautiful and add value to the environment.
Trees for Eco-Friendly Landscaping
The environment is made up of soil, air, water, plants and animals. Trees are beneficial to the environment because they offer a thriving ecosystem for animals and insects while making a property more sustainable.
Soil erosion and runoff are significantly reduced when a tree is planted. The roots of a tree branch out and help to hold soil in place. They also improve drainage because water soaks into the soil rather than running over the top.
Through photosynthesis, trees pull in carbon dioxide and water and produce oxygen. It’s been proposed that one large tree can produce a day’s worth of oxygen for an entire family of four.
An acre of trees produces four tons of oxygen and absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide. Trees also filter particulates out of the air while simultaneously absorbing odors and pollutant gases.
Trees soak up water, which reduces the damage caused by heavy storms and flooding. Healthy trees take in gallons of water to grow but release it into the air again as water vapor. They also slow the evaporation process and — by providing shade — reduce the amount of water required by other plants and animals.
In the United States, 150 million acres of farmland and wildlife habitats have been lost due to urbanization. Native plants provide the best habitats for local species of insects and wildlife. While all trees are beneficial, strive to choose native species to offer the greatest advantages to the ecosystem.
Eco-Friendly Landscaping Ideas
If trees already exist on a property, try implementing them into the design rather than tearing them down. A patio or deck can be created to go around the tree. Additionally, trees will provide natural shade to the patio area. Trees can also be used to hold swings, hammocks and treehouses.
Remember that hooks, nails and screws penetrate the bark, which causes lasting harm. However, if the tree is healthy, it will respond by adding material to strengthen the area and compartmentalize the wound. Ultimately, this means minor damage is unlikely to kill the tree.
When planting trees, it’s crucial to consider where they will prove most beneficial. If a tree is planted too close to a foundation or septic system, the roots can grow and cause damage over time. Evaluate how large the tree will be once it fully matures. An eco-friendly landscape should age well, without the need for frequent alterations.
Tree species have varying characteristics. The care requirements and upkeep will differ, as will the growth cycles. Before planting new species, assess the level of care required to evaluate whether it is a good fit for the property. Research is key because some varieties won’t survive extreme temperatures or weather.
Trees can be used to add visual interest, establish property lines or create natural shade. In fact, a healthy young tree provides the equivalent effect of 10 room-sized air conditioners operating for 20 hours a day.
Sustainably Caring for Trees
New trees require regular watering and care. The first five years are vital in establishing the long-term health of a tree. To ensure proper distribution of water, build a basin using soil. This will keep the water from flowing to other parts of the yard. An irrigation system will not provide a sufficient amount of moisture for the tree roots. Therefore, use a bucket, hose or watering bag to dispense the water each week.
Grass and weeds should be removed from around the tree’s base and mulch should be applied. Mulch will help the ground retain moisture while simultaneously suppressing weed growth. Try to keep the mulch from touching too much of the tree’s trunk.
To avoid rotted roots, a pH imbalance and insect problems, the mulch must be dispersed evenly. Aim to have 3 inches of mulch in a 3-foot circle surrounding the tree. Also, maintain at least 3 inches of space at the tree’s base.
Trim trees during the dormant season to minimize the risk of transmitting disease. Contact a local arborist for a consultation to learn more about detailed pruning procedures. It’s best to contact a professional rather than attempt a large project without support.
Maintaining a Sustainable Process
Naturally, trees die over time — typically from severe weather, disease or insects — so it’s essential they are disposed of sustainably. Convert dead trees into mulch so they can be reused or recycled. These pieces can be used in other areas of the property. Wood chips will decompose more efficiently than large tree limbs, making them good for composting.
Maintain a sustainable process by planting new trees whenever possible. Harvest rainwater to use and eliminate pesticides on the property. Trees can be donated to create an eco-friendly landscape in local parks or community centers. They can also be planted as part of a memorial design as an act of remembrance.
Improve the Environment One Tree at a Time
Every tree makes a difference for curb appeal and the environment. Create a sustainable landscaping design by implementing trees. These trees will raise the property’s value, decrease energy costs, provide habitats and absorb carbon dioxide. Even shoppers love trees and claim to spend 9% to 12% more in business areas with well-developed tree canopies.
Evelyn Long is the editor-in-chief of Renovated, where she publishes home renovation and construction ideas to create more sustainable buildings.