For a greener backyard, take cues from leading-edge California
From implementing stricter standards for vehicle emissions to creating a state-level agency to administer stewardship of the environment, Californians have always been at the forefront of the green movement. That commitment to the environment even extends to local backyards, where California homeowners are turning to eco-friendly materials, building practices and landscaping to create “greener” outdoor living spaces.
You can bring such style into your own backyard with a few tips and tactics inspired by your California neighbors:
Choose eco-friendly materials that are locally produced in California.
A great place to start thinking about such issues is with a deck, which can be the showpiece of your outdoor environment. When you’re building one, be sure to choose materials that are sustainable, recyclable and of local origin. First, it’s key that the material can be grown and re-grown and positively impacts the environment. In addition, locally produced materials consume less fossil fuel and create fewer emissions being transported from their point of origin to your home. And, materials that can be recycled are much less likely to end up in a landfill someday.
For example, redwood is the material of choice for green-minded homeowners when building a deck. Natural and organic, redwood is sustainable, removes carbon from the atmosphere and is recyclable, whereas materials such as man-made plastic composites are not. Redwood grows in one of the world’s healthiest forest systems, and redwood lumber is carbon negative, which means that redwood removes more carbon from the atmosphere than it takes to produce. As a building material, it naturally resists decay, warping and shrinking, and is easy to work with. Unlike composite decking, redwood is a renewable resource. Because it’s local, it not only underscores the beauty of California’s natural environment, its transportation creates less environmental impact than imported hardwoods such as Ipe from the tropics or even cedar from Canada. To learn more about redwood, visit redwoodstrong.com.
Landscape with an eye toward sustainability.
Sustainable landscaping practices can help you create a beautiful backyard that is kind to Mother Nature. A sustainably designed backyard allows homeowners to conserve water, create an environment that celebrates the beauty of local nature, and minimize the amount of chemicals needed for plants, bushes and trees to thrive.
With many parts of California experiencing warm, dry summers, it pays to incorporate drought-resistant, local flora into your landscaping. Native plants have evolved to thrive in the specific conditions of a given region, so they’re much more likely to do well – with less work, fertilizer and water – than imported species not habituated for conditions in your area. What’s more, choosing native plants means they will travel less distance from nursery to backyard.
Likewise, when seeding your lawn each year, be sure to choose grass seed specifically bred to thrive in local conditions. You’ll need less seed to fill in bare spots on the lawn, and less water to keep the lawn healthy and green throughout the summer.
Not sure what plants are native to your area of the state? You can find information online, either at your local college’s extension website or through resources like www.landscaperesource.com, where you can enter your ZIP code and get information on local plants, as well as green service providers in your area.
While the green trend has branched out across the country, its strong roots grow in the climatically diverse, beautiful landscape of California. Whether you’re planning to expand your outdoor living space with a deck or just want a beautiful, lower-maintenance landscape, choosing local, sustainable materials can help ensure your backyard is as green as possible, no matter where you live.