10 Ways to Make Landscaping a Part of a Self-Sufficient Lifestyle

By Amanda Williams

Thinking of moving towards a self-sufficient lifestyle can feel overwhelming when there are many aspects of life to consider.

Instead, start breaking each area into smaller parts to make it seem easier. One of the areas for homeowners is their landscaping. It has become a “must-have” for any property to be marketable.

However, over the years, landscaping has become utterly impractical. Practices that involve using plants from all over the world and tons of water every year have somehow become an accepted way of life.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though, to still have a beautiful landscape. Consider these tips when you are considering how to approach landscaping as another face to self-sustaining living.

1. Think natural

Start by trying to change your mindset on how a landscape must look. Think natural, considering the beauty of nature, particularly in the region around you.

Think about the system and the natural flow of the ecosystems in your area. How do the food, energy, shelter, and animals come together to make a harmonious balance?

2. Use zoning methods

Although breaking the landscape out into its own category might seem small enough, it makes it easier to figure out if you separate the yard or acreage into zones.

Consider each one of them in terms of how far away they are from the house. This distance works to understand where features and plants should be put based on the distance from the home's hub.

You might want to separate the zones further, especially in a smaller yard, in terms of the soil type or daily sunlight. That way, no plants or features are put where they won’t end up working in the long run.

3. Collect your water

One of the most damaging aspects of having a landscape is high water consumption. This is especially true in arid areas where people insist on planting lush green grass lawns.

Instead of using water sources that might be suffering from city-wide overuse, consider how you can collect it naturally.

One of the best ways to do this is by collecting rainwater. During rainy weather, every inch of rain that falls on what is called a “catchment” area of 1,000 feet (such as the roof of your home, shed, or garage), a barrel will collect approximately 600 gallons of water.

During a single rainfall, you can collect and store enough water for weeks or more of watering the landscape.

4. From lawn to mulch

Part of creating a self-sufficient landscape is to make it as close to “zero waste” as possible. This means that whatever comes from the landscape is then used by the landscape.

Instead of carting off all of your lawn clippings and twigs, use them for mulch. Larger branches can be put through a wood chipper to make a beautiful wood mulch, and a layer of grass clippings makes a useful blanket to protect gardens from weeds.

5. What is a lawn?

Several of the points above are for people working within the idea that a lawn must be created with clean-cut grass. However, if you look in nature, this ideal is not found represented anywhere in the world.

If you are open to the idea, think about options that would work well as low ground covers instead of grass. These plants are helpful in the fight to conserve water since they are often more drought-tolerant and more durable than many weeds. Some options include:

  • Clover

  • Moss

  • Creeping Thyme

  • Corsican mint

  • Creeping jenny

Another reason to consider lawns created by these plants is to conserve fossil fuels. The amount of time, money, and gasoline we use to mow our lawns and maintain the perfect height is wasteful when there are other, pleasing-to-the-eye options.

6. Native perennials

When considering the plants for your landscape, look to the natural region once more. Make a list and research to find out what the native plants are in your area. These plants tend to be perennials or biennials.

Since they “chose” your region to grow in, they are much less needy than many other typical greenhouse plants. They are happy with the soil type found in the area, the amount of water they would naturally receive, and the naturally-occurring pollinators.

7. Pollinator gardens

Speaking of pollinators, supporting the pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, certain types of flies, moths, and birds, is highly important. The entire global ecosystem depends on the survival of such pollinators, and supporting them in your yard gives them a habitat on which they can rely.

Since many native plants naturally coexist with these pollinators, planting native gardens go hand-in-hand with planting a pollinator garden. Find out what pollinators make their home near yours and the best plants to give them a better life.

8. Food forest