by Carl Salsedo, Ph.D.
Extension Educator, Horticulture
A great majority of plant culture (gardening) in the United States is devoted to growing ornamentals and turf. Every gardener is a landscape manager, even if they don’t know it. These homeowners on a cumulative level pose a considerable threat to natural functioning ecosystems, such as through the overuse of pesticides and fertilizers that can affect the water quality in nearby ground and surface water areas.
Actions to reconnect as many plant and animal species as possible and to rebuild suburban ecosystems requires restoring the ecology of our own backyards. Sustainable landscape techniques and practices are systems of gardening that use many of the same principles that natural ecosystems utilize.
Sustainable landscaping is about reducing waste, energy and materials. Its purpose is to design and create systems that imitate nature and turn the problems into solutions. As gardeners, each of us can make changes in our own backyards. Together, millions of households doing similar things can have a very positive effect.