Environmental Landscaping | Making an Impact Close to Home

As we know by now the human impact on the environment, caused directly or indirectly, is affecting our generation and endangering the next one. As much as it feels like a global issue, we, as individuals, can be a part of the changes aiming for a better environment.  Here we discuss how environmental landscaping can affect various facets of the environment.  

Environmental Landscaping For Pollinators

Unfortunately, the numbers of both native pollinators and domesticated bee populations are declining. They are threatened by habitat loss, disease, and the excessive and inappropriate use of pesticides. By adding plants to our landscape that provide food and shelter for pollinators throughout their active seasons and by adopting pollinator friendly landscape practices, you can make a difference to both the pollinators and the people that rely on them.  

Pollinators are: Birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, small mammals, and most importantly, bees. They visit flowers to drink nectar or feed off of pollen and transport pollen grains as they move from spot to spot. When they do this they fertilize plants that grow fruits, seeds, nuts and a variety of other valuable food crops. One in three bites of food we eat is possible because of pollinators.

Pollinators include a wide variety of insects, including butterflies, moths, and beetles.
Pollinators include a wide variety of insects, including butterflies, moths, and beetles.

What do Pollinators Need:

  • Plants: Plant diversity is key for pollinators as a garden with a variety of plants will be used by more pollinators and will offer food for a longer blooming period. Native plants are also a better choice as they will need less watering and be more resilient and sustainable.
  • Water: Pollinators need sources of water for many purposes, including drinking and reproduction. Butterflies, for example, will gather and sip at shallow pools and mud puddles. If you do not have a water source, you can create one and the easiest is a bird bath.
  • Shelter: Rock Pile or Wall
    • Spaces of bare ground for Bumblebees and many solitary bees
    • Man-made bee houses (keep it cleaned to avoid bacterial growth)
    • Leave garden cleanup until late Spring for solitary bees
    • Dead wood for bees, wasps, beetles and ants.
    • Flat rocks for Butterflies to bask in the sun.

What to Consider to Help with Pollinators:

  • Bee Lawns: Bee lawns are getting more popular as they have valuable environmental benefits. They also require very little mowing, watering, or fertilizer compared to a traditional lawn.
  • Reduce front yard high maintenance bluegrass lawns with gardens that will provide food for pollinators and garden interest for home owners.

Native Plants

Native plants help the environment the most when planted in places that match their growing requirements. They thrive in the soils, and climate of areas from where they originated. That means less supplemental watering, and fewer pest problems that require toxic chemicals.

Native plants also help in managing rain water runoff and maintain healthy soil as their root systems are deep and keep soil from being compacted. They also help with erosion control on lakeshore banks and to retain steep slopes.

Plants adapted to your region have larger more robust root systems that help them tolerate drought.
Plants adapted to your region have larger more robust root systems that help them tolerate drought.

Rain Gardens and Water Management

 Rain gardens are shallow depressions filled with a special soil mix and plants, and can be an important addition in your environmental landscaping. They collect and filter water that flows off hard surfaces, like roofs and driveways. The rain garden soil mix and plants work together to quickly infiltrate runoff and remove pollutants. Sand mixed within the soil helps with the water infiltration.

A drain usually brings water from one or more downspouts to the rain garden. The depth of the rain garden will depend on how large the drainage area is, what type of soil is in the garden, and what the percent slope of the site. A soil with sand could be smaller and deeper and a soil with clay will need to be swallower and wider for the water to have time to percolate into the ground. To obtain 100% Runoff Control there is a formula with three distinct moisture zones that would need to be used.

  • First Zone – Flat bottom for water-loving plants: Asclepias, Joe Pye Weed, Liatris, Lobelia, Iris, Monardas, Veronica, Sedges, Echinacea, Dogwoods, Willows.
  • Second Zone – Slopes for plants that can tolerate occasional standing water: Rudbeckia, Verbena, Monarda, Aster.
  • Third Zone – Outside perimeter and upper area for drought tolerant plants: Baptisia, Coreopsis, Verbena, Monarda, Phlox, Obedient plant, Little Bluestem, Switch Grass, Aster

Bioswales in Environmental Landscaping

Bioswales are alternatives to storm sewers that also collect polluted storm water before it reaches lakes and streams. They can absorb low flows or carry runoff from heavy rains to storm sewer inlets or directly to surface waters. Bioswales improve water quality by infiltrating the first flush of storm water runoff and filtering the large storm flows they convey.


The designers at Landscapes Unlimited can help design your landscape to fit your environmental values. We offer design, install, and management services to help you make your dream landscape a reality.

Pollinator plants can be used easily in a traditional landscape as well.
Pollinator plants can be used easily in a traditional landscape as well.
Pollinator plants can be used easily in a traditional landscape as well.

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