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8 Unique Sustainable Landscape Design Strategies

Every day we see new ways of looking at sustainability. Landscape design doesn't just have to be trees and water scattered around the site.

With the growing focus on sustainability and environmental conservation, new trends are centered around creating functional outdoor spaces that prioritize these values. Some of the trends are:

  1. Xeriscaping
  2. Outdoor living 
  3. Edible gardening
  4. Immersive garden
  5. Low carbon landscape 
  6. Using elements with water
  7. Recycled elements
  8. Drought-resistant plants

1. Xeriscaping  

Xeriscaping is a type of sustainable landscaping technique that has become increasingly popular in regions where water scarcity is a concern. 

  • It utilizes plants and materials that are adapted to arid environments 
  • The landscape requires minimal watering

The Water Conservation Garden, California

This garden is an excellent example of xeriscaping which showcases how to create a water-efficient garden by incorporating drought-tolerant plants and natural, local materials.

Xeriscaping as a landscape design strategy
Xeriscaping as a landscape design strategy

2. Outdoor living

This is a growing trend that reflects the desire to connect with nature and expand our living spaces beyond the walls of our homes.

  • One popular way of doing this is by giving semi-open or outdoor kitchen and dining areas 
  • Plenty of seating must also be provided

Sky Garden, London

The garden, which incorporates a restaurant and a bar in it, features a mix of seating areas, from cozy lounge spaces to communal dining areas, all with stunning views of the city skyline.

Outdoor Experience brought inside at Sky Garden, London
Outdoor Experience brought inside at Sky Garden, London

3. Edible Gardening

Edible gardens gained popularity among homeowners who are interested in growing their food and incorporating sustainable practices into their landscapes.

  • The incorporation of edible plants into traditional landscape designs creates a fusion of beauty and functionality
  • Reducing the cost of grocery bills
  • Promotes healthier eating habits

Edible Garden, Atlanta Botanical Garden

This garden features a wide variety of edible plants, including vegetables, fruits, and herbs grown organically, which are arranged aesthetically. 

Edible Garden, Atlanta Botanical Garden
Edible Garden, Atlanta Botanical Garden

4. Immersive Garden

The immersive garden trend incorporates design elements that engage sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch, creating a multisensory experience.

Immersive gardens offer several benefits:

  • Promotes relaxation
  • Reduces stress
  • Enhances overall well-being

Singapore Garden Festival

This biennial event showcases some of the world's most innovative and visually stunning garden installations that provide a multisensory experience and help people connect with nature.

Singapore Garden Festival
Installations at the Singapore Garden Festival

5. Low carbon landscape 

This approach to landscaping involves designing outdoor spaces that minimize their environmental impact and energy consumption.

Kings Cross Pond Club, London

The landscape features a natural swimming pond that incorporates innovative filtration systems to keep the water clean without the use of chemicals. The pond is also surrounded by a landscaped area that has native plants and natural habitats for wildlife.

Water Filtration system at the Kings Cross Pond Club
Water Filtration system at the Kings Cross Pond Club

6. Incorporating Water into Landscape 

This landscape focuses on incorporating water features into outdoor spaces to promote water conservation, improve water quality, and manage stormwater runoff. Innovative ways are used to integrate water elements into their designs:

  • Rain gardens 
  • Bioswales 
  • Fountains 
  • Water spouts
  • Outdoor waterfalls
  • Natural water bodies like ponds
  • Artificial water bodies like pools

Millennium Park, Chicago

This park features a massive water feature known as the Crown Fountain that doubles as a cooling system. It consists of two glass brick towers that display changing images of faces. Water cascades down the towers into a shallow reflecting pool, creating an immersive and playful experience for visitors while also providing a cooling effect in the hot summer months.

Crown Fountain as a water feature at the Millennium Park, Chicago
Crown Fountain as a water feature at the Millennium Park, Chicago

7. Recycled material: 

Recycling and repurposing materials is becoming increasingly popular in landscape design, as it not only reduces waste but also adds a unique touch to the design. 

  • Small details

 Example: using reclaimed wood for planters 

  • Larger features

Example: creating retaining walls with recycled concrete or using recycled glass for decorative elements 

High Line in New York City

The design of the park incorporates recycled materials, including the use of reclaimed railroad tracks as walkways and salvaged steel for the planters. The use of these materials adds an industrial and historical feel to the park.

Railroad Track is converted into a park at High Line, New York City
Railroad Track is converted into a park at High Line, New York City

8. Drought-Tolerant Plants

Drought-tolerant plants can thrive in hot and dry conditions, making them ideal for landscaping in areas where water is scarce.

Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona

The garden showcases a diverse collection of plants like cacti and succulents that have adapted to the harsh and arid conditions of the Sonoran Desert. 

These are well-suited to the local climate, reducing the need for irrigation and helping to conserve water resources.

Drought Tolerant Plants in the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona
Drought Tolerant Plants in the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona

Landscape design that aims to create functional and sustainable outdoor spaces benefits both people and the environment. These trends include utilizing technology to monitor and manage landscape resources, promoting physical and mental wellness, and utilizing natural elements to solve environmental problems.

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