Holistic Homes

Homeowners’ interest in green homes extends beyond four walls into their patios and gardens
Xeriscaping isn't the only way that outdoor trade contractors address environmental concerns. (Photo: AE Design)

SLC’s landscape management programs involve mulch mowing to recycle grass clippings and using mulch to protect soils. Flanagan does regular soil testing and uses fertilizer to support biologically active soils. He also incorporates integrated pest management, a process that uses the least toxic pest control only when needed.

Flanagan’s goal is to reduce the amount of money his clients spend on water by between 30% and 50% by using smart irrigation technology, as well as soaker and drip systems to reduce waste, improve maintenance practices and lessen the heavy reliance on turf in the landscapes.

“One myth is that it will be an expensive alternative when it’s not,” he says. “There will be some modifications and investment up front, but the phasing of the program and the ROI from water savings would pay for that relatively quickly.”

[Related: Defensive design for resilient landscapes]

Finding efficiency in outdoor equipment

Advances in lithium ion technology have given professionals a new option in battery-powered tools, says Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Alexandria, Virginia-based Outdoor Power Equipment Institute Inc. (OPEI), an international trade association that represents 100 small engine, utility vehicle and outdoor power equipment manufacturers.

“Power equipment takes a lot of power and torque, so now you’re able to store enough power to run the devices,” says Kiser, adding that studies show they also produce less noise and fewer emissions. Robots and remote-controlled devices also are entering the market in greater numbers, and most are battery-powered.

“The equipment side of the equation continues to get cleaner, quieter and safer,” Kiser says. “There is a product and power source for every need, from gasoline to solar, from battery and electric to propane.”

OPEI’s popular TurfMutt and Living Landscape educational initiatives are designed to better educate people on how living landscapes benefit the environment and have an important role in our natural resources.

“There was a thought that you had to get rid of your yard to prevent climate change, but that’s not true,” Kiser says. “Lawns absorb carbon and produce oxygen. A 50- by 50-foot lot creates enough oxygen for a family of four.”

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