Sustainable Landscape Design

Sustainable landscaping pairs plants that benefit each other – and you.
front yard garden

Low-Maintenance Ornamental Grass Sustainable Yard

Julie Orr of Julie Orr Design created an affordable front yard for this Arts and Crafts home in Los Altos, California by removing the water-thirsty lawn and replacing it with low maintenance ornamental grasses. The composting and mulching create rich soil and reduce the need for watering.

Photo by: Julie Orr Design

Julie Orr Design

Sustainable landscape design for residential properties includes environmentally-friendly materials, plants that benefit the local ecology and a design with a renewable lifestyle in mind.

It may be difficult to create an entirely sustainable landscape design plan unless you’re starting from scratch. However, small changes to your own yard or garden cane make a big impact.

Start by replacing materials that could be harmful to plant life, animals and your family. Old railroad ties containing the chemical creosote should be removed and replaced with non-pressure-treated landscape timbers. Untreated wood is not termite resistant but is generally fine to use in landscaping that does not border the house structure. 

Natural rocks and stones are perfect additions to sustainable landscaping because they can be used to protect beds, create low maintenance pathways and enhance the water flow through your property.

Solar lights are a great addition to a sustainable landscape plan. Not only are they long-lasting, but they also bring peace of mind to a design that requires plentiful outdoor lighting – without the energy consumption or costs of electrically wired lights. 

Choosing plants for sustainable landscaping is easy: go local and organic. Which plants are indigenous to your region and climate? Make a list of flowers, shrubs and grasses that thrive in your area and design your landscape plan to include varieties that, when planted as companions, attract a balanced variety of bugs and bacteria and thrive in local soil types.

Did you know that native gardens require up to 77% less water than non-native plants, especially in hot or dry climates. Keep exotic or non-native plants inside your home, where you can care for them without the additional water usage required to cover an entire yard.

Vegetables and fruits that are native to your region can be the centerpieces of your sustainable landscape plan. They’ll grow well, seasonally, with minimal care and can yield produce for you to consume and share with neighbors. That, of course will cut down on your carbon footprint. You’ll no longer be driving a car to the grocery store to buy tomatoes and when you can walk into your sustainable garden and pick them straight off the vine!

Don’t forget to think about how your property affects your lifestyle choices. Would adding a natural patio or sitting area in the garden get you outdoors more often? Gardening as a hobby can provide health benefits beyond the sustainability of your landscape: it can provide activity and pleasure for a lifetime.

Next Up

Quick and Dirty: Sustainable Landscaping Made Simple

These sustainable ideas are cheap and easy, whether you have acres of land or a few patio plants.

Celebrity Landscape Designer Vickie Cardaro

This talented designer to celeb creatives like Simon Doonan and Jonathan Adler uses sustainable design for island and coastal homes.

6 Sustainable Brands You Can Score on Sale Right Now

Make every day Earth Day with these eco-friendly homewares.

10 Breathtaking, Sustainable Vacation Rentals to Inspire Your Dream Home

Sustainable design can be even more visually stunning than it is environmentally-friendly. Let these eco-friendlier houses around the U.S. inspire your dream home.

Coastal Home Designed to Embrace Its Natural Surroundings

This landscape design, by LaGuardia Design Group, was selected as the overall winner of the 2021 HGTV Ultimate Outdoor Awards — and it's easy to see why. Designers were tasked with working with the site after Hurricane Sandy, and wanted to do everything possible to create a sustainable and conscious design. Though this was a daunting task, the designers prevailed and created an absolutely stunning landscape, giving testimony to their immense tenacity and commitment to preserve and appreciate our natural surroundings.

What Is Permaculture?

Find out about this holistic approach to sustainable growing.

12 Easy, Eco-Friendly Swaps to Make in Your Bathroom Right Now

Transform your bathroom for the better with our favorite sustainable toiletries.

Pro Tips: Small Ways to Reduce Waste at Home

The benefits of going trash-free are endless. Aside from the positive effects on the environment, you may also find yourself eating healthier, saving money and feeling great.

Should I Cover My Compost Pile?

Maybe. It depends on a few things like weather, what type of composter you have and your gardening goals. Read on to find out when you should keep a lid on your compost.

Does a Compost Bin Need Air Holes?

Yes! Good airflow is one of the secrets to successful composting. Without it, your compost pile could turn into a stinky mess (literally). Learn how to increase airflow in your compost pile.

Go Shopping

Spruce up your outdoor space with products handpicked by HGTV editors.

On TV

Good Bones

7am | 6c

Good Bones

8am | 7c

Good Bones

9am | 8c

Good Bones

10am | 9c

Good Bones

11am | 10c

Good Bones

12pm | 11c

Home Town

1pm | 12c

Home Town

2pm | 1c

Home Town

3pm | 2c

Home Town

4pm | 3c

Home Town

5pm | 4c

Home Town

6pm | 5c

Home Town

7pm | 6c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Outgrown

8pm | 7c
11pm | 10c

House Hunters

11:30pm | 10:30c
2am | 1c

House Hunters

2:30am | 1:30c

Outgrown

3am | 2c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.

Related Pages