When landscaping reduces environmental harm as well as conserving money and resources, it is referred to as “green landscaping.” A growing awareness of environmental issues among consumers in the late 1990s led to an explosion of green landscaping projects, as gardeners realized that they could make a difference in their environment. A number of concepts come together in green landscaping to create a beautiful but also highly efficient garden.
Typically, when the term “green” is used to describe a product or way of life, it means “environmentally friendly.” Followers of the green movement believe that by reducing their own usage of resources, they can reduce their negative impact on the environment, and influence culture to the same ends. The green movement has spread from individuals to companies and businesses as well, with these organizations consciously choosing a more green way of doing business. People can build green houses, drive green cars, use green technology, and purchase green food, among many other things. Since the green movement believes that every little bit counts, many consumers start small and work their way up.
Ideally, a green garden should have little to no negative environmental impact. In fact, a green garden should benefit the environment by encouraging ecological diversity, creating a space for wildlife to live, and reducing the use of resources contributed on the part of the garden's owner. This is accomplished in a number of ways, starting with a change in garden design which puts a focus on native plants and species diversity. Resource-intensive lawns are shrunk in favor of more natural landscaping, and plants are plotted in an efficient and logical way.
The use of a garden plan which takes the natural environment of the region into account will certainly reduce resource usage, but most gardeners take additional measures. Yard and household plant waste are composted, and natural fertilizers are used rather than chemicals. Gardeners use integrated pest management in green landscaping, rather than toxic sprays. They also control storm water runoff, reusing the water in the garden rather than allowing it to flood waterways and spill out to sea.
An important part of green landscaping is also the ability to reduce heating and cooling bills for both businesses and homes. Well placed plants can help buildings be more heat efficient, which leads to reduced reliance on air conditioning and heating measures. When a green building is combined with green landscaping, energy bills can drop quite significantly. Planting trees as a windbreak to protect homes from cold winds and weather can be a great way to reduce energy bills. So can using a living roof of grass and native plants to insulate a building, and planting deciduous trees or vines on the South side of a building to shade it in the summer and allow sunshine through in the winter.