Create an Environmentally Friendly Backyard
Using natural materials and local resources can help you help the environment.
By Charlie Jourdain
Homeowners today pour a lot of energy and study into ways they can make their homes more environmentally friendly. Yet when it comes to maximizing the features that make the most of their environmental opportunities, many forget about the yard space surrounding their homes.
Maybe it’s the assumption that “green” takes care of itself in the great outdoors, or maybe that the average-size yards aren’t big enough to make a difference. While not everyone can step outside a set of patio doors and set foot in a national park, that shouldn’t stop homeowners from creating a yard that is inviting, soothing … and very friendly to the environment.
Create a plan that highlights your yard’s natural beauty
Planning is the logical first step for any landscaping project, but when planning for a more environmentally friendly yard space, this step is even more important. Take time to consider all the natural features in your yard and how they can be featured in your new designs. What existing structures, if any, could continue to be used?
Working with rather than against the natural features in your yard space not only helps promote the native environment, it is also more cost-effective. The materials and labor needed to manufacture a natural scene can send any budget spinning wildly out of control.
Think globally, buy locally
Inspiration for your yard space may come from around the world, but making a conscious effort to source your materials from local companies is another way to boost the environmentally friendly features of your redesigned yard. Think about it: If the items you order travel a shorter distance to your yard, then less nonrenewable energy is consumed.
Your local lumber yard or home improvement store should have information on where their stock is shipped from. There’s an amazing selection of products and raw material—such as redwood lumber—that are American-grown and -made and will fit your plans better than anything shipped from overseas. For homeowners who want to know their products were also responsibly sourced, certifications like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) offer assurance that the company offering the product paid careful attention to how it was made, beginning to end.
This is just part of what makes redwood one of the most environmentally-friendly woods to work with. In addition to FSC certification, some of redwood’s naturally sustainable features include:
- Redwood trees are carbon negative, as they consume carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, converting it to wood and then storing more carbon than emitted in manufacturing. This is far less than any plastic composite product that puts a ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
- Redwood can be refinished a number of times and is also biodegradable. Other materials can spend thousands of years in landfills.
- Redwood is also naturally resistant to decay, termites and even fire. This means redwood will last much longer in use than other common wood species.