Sustainable Landscaping 101: A Beginner’s Guide To Creating A Green Outdoor Space

The average American household spends $11,000 each year on outdoor landscaping, so it’s important to be mindful of the environmental impact that has on our planet. 

The good news is that you can have a beautiful outdoor space while being kinder to the environment—by creating a sustainable landscape design! 

How to Create a Sustainable Landscape
Key Takeaways
– Sustainable landscaping is an approach to designing and maintaining outdoor spaces that promotes sustainability and reduces negative impacts on the environment.
– Benefits of sustainable landscaping include reducing water usage, improving soil health, reducing waste, and promoting a healthy ecosystem.
– Sustainable landscaping practices include using native plants, reducing water usage through methods like rainwater harvesting and drip irrigation, composting, and using organic pest control methods.
– Sustainable landscaping can be cost-effective in the long run due to reduced water and maintenance costs.
– Sustainable landscaping practices can be implemented in existing outdoor spaces by gradually making changes over time.

In this post I’ll walk you through some simple steps for doing just that.

Research The Types Of Plants You’d Like To Grow

Once you’ve decided on the type of garden you want to create, it’s time to start researching plants.

First and foremost, consider the climate where you live. Are there specific plants that will thrive in your area? Are there any pests or diseases that could affect them? 

What kind of sunlight do they prefer (full sun or partial shade)? How much water do they need? These are all questions that should be answered before buying any plants for your garden.

Implementing sustainable landscaping practices can have a positive impact on the environment and your wallet. Our guide on why you need to implement sustainable landscaping explains the benefits and offers tips for getting started.

Install A Rain Garden

A rain garden is a collection of plants that naturally purifies water. Rain gardens are usually located in or near the yard, and they help filter pollutants out of rainwater before it enters your home’s drainage system. 

They can be installed on any type of property–whether you’re renting or own your home and have control over its landscaping, as well as how much space you have available for installation.

Rain gardens are easy to maintain once they’re established: simply keep an eye on them throughout the year and remove any invasive plant species (e.g., crabgrass) that grow in them regularly. 

They’ll also need some supplemental watering during dry spells; if there isn’t enough rainfall throughout summer months (or if there’s been heavy rainfall recently), watering may be necessary once every two weeks until fall arrives again!

Benefits include reducing pollution levels in soil runoff into local waterways such as lakes or rivers by up to 80%. This helps improve water quality while also preserving aquatic habitats like wetlands where animals live happily ever after…

Water conservationA rain garden collects and filters rainwater, reducing water runoff and promoting water conservation in your outdoor space.
Erosion controlBy diverting water from sloped areas and directing it towards the rain garden, you can help prevent erosion and soil loss.
Improved water qualityRain gardens act like natural filters, removing pollutants and contaminants from rainwater before it enters the soil and nearby waterways.
Increased biodiversityA rain garden can attract a range of plant and animal species, contributing to a healthy and diverse ecosystem in your outdoor space.
Aesthetic appealWith a range of colorful, water-loving plants, a rain garden can add a beautiful, natural feature to your landscaping.

Create A Pollinator Garden

A pollinator garden is a space that’s designed to support pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. It can be as small or large as you want it to be–the only requirement is that the plants in your garden are native species (that is, they naturally occur in your region).

Pollinators are insects (bees) or birds (hummingbirds) that carry pollen from one flower to another so that they can create fruit or seeds. 

Without pollinators, we wouldn’t have much food at all! If you’ve ever made jam or grown tomatoes from seedlings, then you know how important pollinators are in providing us with fresh produce every year.

Sustainable landscaping offers a wide range of benefits, from reducing water usage to improving air quality. To learn more about how this type of landscaping can benefit your home and community, check out our article on the benefits of sustainable landscaping.

Choose Native Plants

Native plants are well-adapted to the local climate and ecosystem. As a result, they tend to require less water and maintenance than non-native species. 

They also have evolved with native insects and pollinators in mind, so you can expect them to be more resistant against pests and disease.

When choosing your landscaping materials, consider if you want something that will last for years or something that will require regular replacement (such as annuals). 

Native plants may not always look as lush or colorful as their non-native counterparts but they’ll give you peace of mind knowing that they won’t cause harm or become invasive over time.

Low maintenanceNative plants have adapted to the local environment, making them more resistant to pests and diseases, and requiring less water and fertilizer compared to non-native species.
Wildlife habitatNative plants provide food and shelter for local wildlife, such as birds and butterflies, contributing to a healthy ecosystem.
Water conservationNative plants are accustomed to the local rainfall patterns and usually require less water than non-native species, which is an important consideration for sustainable landscaping practices.
Improved soil qualityNative plants have deep root systems that help to improve soil structure and prevent erosion, making them ideal for slope landscaping.
Climate resilienceNative plants are naturally more resilient and less susceptible to weather extremes, such as drought and frost damage.

The table above outlines some of the benefits of choosing native plants in sustainable landscaping. By selecting plants that are well-suited to the local environment, you can save time and resources on maintenance, promote a healthy ecosystem, and improve the overall resilience of your outdoor space.

Don’t Fear The Mulch!

Mulch is a great way to protect the roots of your plants. It can help retain moisture in the soil, prevent weeds from growing and keep the soil from eroding.

Mulching is one of the easiest ways to improve your garden’s sustainability, because it reduces water use and composts waste materials like leaves or grass clippings into rich organic matter for your plants’ benefit. 

The best part? When you’re ready for a change, all you have to do is pull out some old mulch (or add more), add seeds or transplants–and voila! You’ve got yourself an entirely new garden!

If you’re interested in sustainable landscaping, it’s important to know the best practices for achieving a truly green outdoor space. Our article on the top 15 sustainable landscaping practices covers everything from composting to rainwater harvesting.

Consider Natural Pest Control

As you can see, there are many ways to control pests without using chemicals. If you are interested in learning more about sustainable landscaping and how you can reduce your environmental impact while still enjoying your outdoor space, check out some of these other posts:

  • How To Make Your Own Lawn Fertilizer From Scratch
  • How To Make A Compost Bin
Companion plantingPlanting certain vegetables or herbs together to repel pests or attract beneficial insects
Neem oilA natural oil derived from the neem plant that can be used as an insecticide and fungicide
Diatomaceous earthA powder made from the fossilized remains of diatoms that can be sprinkled around plants to control pests
Bacillus thuringiensisA bacterium that is deadly to certain insects and can be used as a pesticide
LadybugsThese colorful insects are natural predators of aphids and other pests and can be purchased and released in the garden as a natural form of pest control
Beneficial nematodesSmall, worm-like organisms that can be used to control soil-dwelling pests like grubs and root weevils

The table above outlines some natural pest control methods that can be used in sustainable landscaping. These methods are effective alternatives to chemical pesticides and can help promote a healthy ecosystem in your outdoor space.

Learn About Native Soil For Your Landscape Design

Native soil is the ideal choice for your landscape design and installation. Native soil is the type of dirt that grows in your region, so it’s already adapted to local conditions. 

This means it will require less maintenance and watering than other types of dirt, which can save you time and money over the long term.

If you’re not sure what kind of native soil you have, ask someone at a local nursery or garden center (or even just Google) what type of native plants would grow well on top of it–they’ll be able to tell you!

Sustainable landscaping is about more than just adding a few plants to your yard. To truly create a green outdoor space, there are many factors to consider. Visit our article on 15 essential factors to consider for tips on creating a beautiful and sustainable landscape.

Be Mindful Of Overuse Of Chemicals In Landscaping Maintenance

It’s important to be mindful of overuse of chemicals in landscaping maintenance. While these products can make your yard look great, their use can have adverse effects on the environment and you. 

Chemicals like fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides are designed to kill pests or weeds but they also kill beneficial insects that help pollinate plants and prevent disease.

If you’re injured by chemicals while working in your garden or yard it could lead to long-term health problems like cancer, brain damage or infertility–not exactly what you want as an added bonus when tending to your outdoor space!

Chemical-free maintenance is a good way to protect yourself and the environment from these harmful substances while still getting everything done around the house!

Sustainable landscaping is the future of gardening, and there are many benefits to getting started now. Our article on why sustainable landscaping is the future of gardening explains why this is the case and offers tips for implementing sustainable practices in your outdoor space.


We hope that you’ve learned a little more about how to create a sustainable landscape and the many benefits it can provide. It’s time to get out there and start making a difference in your own backyard!

Further Reading

If you’re looking to learn more about sustainable landscaping and how to create a green outdoor space, check out these helpful resources.

Beginner’s Guide to Landscaping: This guide offers practical tips for designing and implementing a landscaping plan that meets your needs and preferences.

Landscape Design for Beginners: BHG’s guide covers the basics of landscape design, from choosing plants to creating a focal point.

Landscaping 101: Everything You Need to Know: If you’re new to landscaping, this guide provides a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know to get started.


What is sustainable landscaping?

Sustainable landscaping is an approach to designing and maintaining outdoor spaces that reduces negative impacts on the environment and promotes sustainability.

What are some examples of sustainable landscaping practices?

Examples of sustainable landscaping practices include using native plants, reducing water usage through methods like rainwater harvesting and drip irrigation, composting, and using organic pest control methods.

Why is sustainable landscaping important?

Sustainable landscaping is important for several reasons, including reducing water usage, improving soil health, reducing waste, and promoting a healthy ecosystem.

Is sustainable landscaping more expensive than traditional landscaping?

While it may require an initial investment, sustainable landscaping can actually be more cost-effective in the long run due to reduced water and maintenance costs.

Can I implement sustainable landscaping practices in my existing outdoor space?

Yes, sustainable landscaping practices can be implemented in existing outdoor spaces by gradually making changes over time, starting with simple practices like reducing water usage and switching to native plants.