15 Simple Steps To Sustainable Landscaping For The Busy Homeowner

If you’re looking to make your yard more sustainable, but don’t have a lot of time to spend on it, the good news is that you can do some very simple things that will make a big difference. In this post, we’ll show you 15 simple steps that will help you create a more sustainable landscape.

Five Steps for an Eco-Friendly Landscape
Key Takeaways
Sustainable landscaping involves using eco-friendly practices, such as planting native species, minimizing chemical fertilizer usage, and conserving natural resources such as water and soil.
A sustainable landscape offers a range of benefits, including carbon emissions reduction, improved water quality, enhanced biodiversity, and a more beautiful functional outdoor space.
Sustainable landscaping can save homeowners money by reducing water and utility bills, lowering upkeep, maintenance costs, and increasing the value of the property.
Achieving a sustainable landscape involves incorporating green roofs or walls, utilizing compost, avoiding chemical fertilizers, and working with a professional landscape designer to plan and execute your vision.
There are several articles and guides available for homeowners looking to upgrade their outdoor space, offering tips on sustainable landscaping, low-maintenance designs, and landscape renovation.

1. Start With Your House

Once you’ve decided to take on a sustainable landscape project, the first step is to consider what types of plants are appropriate for your region. The climate in which you live will determine what kinds of plants can thrive in it. 

For example, if you live in an area where winters get really cold with lots of snowfall, then having grass outside won’t work well since it will die during wintertime and need replacing every year.

Instead of using annuals or other short-lived flowers that need replanting every year (and thus adding waste), try using perennials instead! 

Perennials grow from bulbs or seeds every spring and live through multiple seasons without needing any care whatsoever until they die naturally (usually after several years). 

Perennial flowers include things like tulips and daffodils; shrubs such as lilac bushes; trees like dogwoods; vines like morning glory…the list goes on!

Taking steps to create an eco-friendly outdoor space not only benefits the environment but also enhances your home’s aesthetics. Our guide on how to create a beautiful eco-friendly outdoor space offers tips on how to use sustainable materials and plants to make your space more appealing while reducing your carbon footprint.

2. Plan Where To Put Your Plants

When it comes to planting, there are a lot of ways to go. The most basic is just straight lines or circles, but these can be boring and repetitive. You could also try triangles or squares–but again, not very interesting for the eye.

Planting in groups is more interesting than just one plant here and there! Planting in groups of 3, 5 and 7 plants gives you an opportunity to create some variety with color and texture as well as shape (think: tall/short/wide). 

Planting 9 plants together creates even more diversity since each individual has its own personality within that group.

3. Choose The Right Plants

You will want to choose plants that are native to your region. This will ensure that they are able to thrive in the soil, sun, and shade conditions of your yard. 

For example, if you have a lot of shade in your yard and want some color, consider planting a shrub like rosemary or lavender instead of an annual flower like petunias or marigolds which require lots of sun.

When considering what type of trees and shrubs you want in your landscape design plan make sure they are appropriate for the amount of water they need (especially if there isn’t much available). 

Some types require more than others do so keep this in mind when making decisions about what kinds might work best at each location within your yard as well as how many plants would look good together visually without taking over too much space!

Sustainable landscaping practices not only save money but also help preserve the planet’s natural resources. Our article on 10 surprising tips for sustainable landscaping provides insights into using organic fertilizers, enhancing soil health, and maximizing water conservation, among other eco-friendly measures.

4. Design For Shade, Too

The fourth step is to design your landscaping to take advantage of shade. When considering how to use shade in your yard, ask yourself these questions:

  • What direction does my home face?
  • How much sunlight does it receive on an average day?
  • What plants thrive in areas with little or no direct sunlight (i.e., partial sun)?

There are many plants that require only a small amount of light and will thrive even if they’re shaded by other plants or structures like buildings, fences and trees. 

Some examples include ivy and hosta (which can grow up to three feet tall) as well as ground cover like vinca vine (“periwinkle”) or creeping fig (also known as “Boston Ivy”).

Sun ProtectionProviding shade reduces exposure to UV radiation, which can cause skin damage and skin cancer
Cooler TemperaturesShaded areas can be up to 20°F cooler than unshaded ones, reducing heat-stress and increasing comfort
Energy SavingsA well-designed shading system can significantly reduce cooling costs by 10-50% according to the U.S. Department of Energy
Enhanced AestheticsShade elements such as pergolas, arbors, and shade sails add beauty to your outdoor space
Increased Property ValueShade features are highly desirable and can increase property value by up to 15% according to the Appraisal Institute
Extended Living SpaceShaded areas provide a comfortable space for outdoor activities even on hot summer days

5. Think About Edging And Borders

Edging is a great way to create borders around your garden, and it’s also an easy way to manage weeds. 

While it can be made from many different materials, wood and stone are two of the most popular choices for edging because they look natural and are durable enough to withstand heavy foot traffic.

If you have time on your hands, consider planting native plants along with your shrubs or flowers in order to save money on landscaping materials later down the road. 

Native plants require less water than more exotic varieties do since they’re used to living in hot climates without much rainfall–and this means less maintenance for you!

Adopting sustainable landscaping practices isn’t just a trend, it’s a way to contribute to the planet’s well-being. Our guide on the top 15 sustainable landscaping practices covers areas such as reducing water usage, using native plants, and promoting soil health, all of which can have a positive impact on the planet.

6. Consider Establishing A Rain Garden

Rain gardens are shallow depressions that collect rainwater and filter it through the soil before it flows into the ground. 

They’re great for reducing runoff, which means less water pollution, so you can enjoy your garden without worrying about harming the environment.

You can make a simple rain garden in your yard by digging out an area with dimensions of 1x3x3 feet (30x90x90 centimeters). 

Then plant native plants such as goldenrod or lupine that thrive in damp conditions near the bottom of this hole, along with some other species like butterfly weed and aster flowers around its edge. 

Watering regularly will help these plants thrive until they become established enough to survive on their own without any human intervention–which makes them perfect candidates for any busy homeowner who doesn’t have much time to tend her garden!

7. Go For Wildflowers

Wildflowers are a great way to add color and beauty to your landscape. They can be used in many ways, from naturalizing an area of the garden, to creating a border for beds or pathways. 

And because wildflowers are so low maintenance, they’re also ideal for people who don’t have much time or inclination for gardening.

Wildflowers are also easy-to-grow plants that require little attention once established–and since there are thousands upon thousands of varieties available (many native), you’re sure to find one that suits your needs perfectly!

Sustainable landscaping is more than just about maintaining the environment; it’s also about creating a healthier, more attractive living space. Our article on the benefits of sustainable landscaping explains how sustainable practices can lead to better air quality, improved mental health, and a stronger sense of community, among other benefits.

8. Plant Some Trees (Or At Least Mulch Your Lawn)

The benefits of trees are well-documented: they provide shade, reduce noise pollution and help with cooling the house in summer months by keeping it cool under their canopy. 

They also reduce erosion by slowing down rainwater runoff and can even purify air pollution as it passes through their leaves.

Erosion ControlPlanting trees or mulching your lawn protects the soil from water and wind erosion
Better Soil QualityTrees and mulch add organic matter and nutrients to the soil
Climate ControlTrees absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, contributing to a healthier ecosystem
Wildlife HabitatProviding trees and mulch creates habitats for birds, insects, and other wildlife
Curb AppealThe addition of trees and mulch to your lawn adds aesthetic value to your home and neighborhood
Cost SavingsTrees provide shade that reduces the need for air conditioning during summer months, reducing energy costs
Increased Property ValueTrees, especially mature ones, can add value to your property up to $10,000 according to the Arbor Day Foundation
Noise ReductionTrees and mulch absorb sound, reducing the noise levels in your yard and home

9. Use Natural Materials For Paths And Walkways

Gravel is a great option for walkways, but be sure to lay down a layer of mulch or wood chips first to help keep the gravel from moving around. 

You can also use bark mulch as an alternative to gravel or other natural materials like stone edging to separate your paths from your lawn (just make sure you don’t use pressure-treated wood).

If you have time and energy, consider making your own compost from yard waste like leaves and grass clippings. 

This will help maintain the health of any paths that are used frequently by people walking through them–but remember not to use any diseased plants in your compost pile!

Landscape renovation can help improve the functionality and aesthetics of your outdoor space. Our guide on the ultimate guide to landscape renovation offers insights into planning a successful renovation project, including tips for maximizing your budget, selecting the right features, and working with a professional landscaper.


The best thing about sustainable landscaping is that it’s easy to do. You don’t need special equipment or skills, just some basic knowledge of how plants grow and what they need from you. 

If this sounds like something you could use in your yard, then give it a try! The more people who adopt these practices, the better off our planet will be.

Further Reading

7 Low-Maintenance Landscaping Ideas for the Busy Homeowner: This article offers ideas for low-maintenance landscaping, such as planting native plants, using hardscaping, and installing irrigation systems.

Sustainable Landscape Design Ideas: This post outlines sustainable landscaping design ideas like incorporating compost, reducing water usage, and utilizing recycled materials.

Sustainable Landscape: What Do We Mean and Why Do We Care: This blog post discusses what a sustainable landscape is and how to create one, including using native plants, conserving water, and avoiding chemical fertilizers.


What is sustainable landscaping?

Sustainable landscaping is the practice of creating an outdoor space that conserves natural resources like water and soil, reduces waste, and promotes biodiversity. It involves using eco-friendly practices like planting native species, utilizing green roofs or walls, and minimizing chemical fertilizer usage.

What are the benefits of sustainable landscaping?

Sustainable landscaping offers a range of benefits, including reducing carbon emissions, improving water quality, conserving natural resources, enhancing biodiversity, and creating a more beautiful and functional outdoor space. It also promotes the health and well-being of the surrounding community.

How can I create a sustainable landscape?

There are various ways to create a sustainable landscape, including incorporating native plants, maximizing water efficiency, utilizing natural fertilizers, and minimizing turf areas. Additionally, working with a professional landscaper or designer can help you plan and execute your vision for a sustainable outdoor space.

What are some common sustainable landscaping practices?

Some common sustainable landscaping practices include composting, using mulch, installing rainwater catchment systems, incorporating permeable paving, and planting cover crops. These practices help conserve resources and promote a healthy, thriving outdoor environment.

Can sustainable landscaping save me money?

Yes, sustainable landscaping can save you money in several ways. By reducing water usage, minimizing fertilizer and pesticide use, and choosing low-maintenance plants, sustainable landscaping can help lower your water and utility bills, limit upkeep and maintenance costs, and increase your property’s value.