Diversity Encourages Landscape Sustainability

Water Conservation for Lawn and Landscape September 22, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

Diversity and Why it is Important

Diversity in biology is referred to as biodiversity. This includes the diversity of plants, animals, and their habitats as well as their genetic diversity. 

Habitat loss is currently considered the most important threat to biodiversity. Habitat loss includes development for housing and other human activities that disturb and fragment native habitat.

Diversity of life acts as a buffer against disease and other pests. Genetic diversity protects against species loss as well. Higher diversity improves wildlife habitat and increases soil microbial diversity.

Sustainable Landscapes

The term sustainability is bounced around a lot these days.  A sustainable landscape is one that is specific to its site, uses plants adapted to the local climate, and uses few inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides. It should also be visually attractive.

Creating Diversity to Encourage Sustainability in the Landscape

Homeowners can play an important role in protecting biodiversity in the landscape. Using a variety of adapted exotics is better than using non adapted, high water use plants but using native plants in their natural combinations is the best solution for creating biodiversity in the landscape.

Providing plants for wildlife is one of the key ways to help create biodiversity in the landscape.  Some key design considerations include the following:

  • Plant in layers using different size,  heights, and types of plants, include evergreens and deciduous species
  • Use several species in each plant layer
  • Become familiar with native plant communities in the local area for appropriate plant choices
  • Become familiar with food plants for wildlife and plant fruiting or nut trees  and shrubs
  • Understand that some wildlife have different food needs during different life cycles. Butterflies are a good example. Larva have different food needs than adults
  • Plant nectary plants to attract adult butterflies, moths, and bees
  • Avoid creating 'islands' in a sea of turf
  • Where possible, connect into existing or adjacent landscape

 


Additional Resources:

National Wildlife Federation: Garden for Wildlife

West

Colorado: Sustainable Landscaping

Oregon: Landscape Sustainability Checkup

Utah: Plant Diversity Important

Southeast

Florida: Native Landscaping vs. Exotic Landscaping: What Should We Recommend

Florida: Conservation Subdivision: Construction Phase - Native Landscaping Palette

South Carolina: Habitat Requirements of Wildlife: Food, Water, Cover, and Space


 

 

 

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USDA / NIFA

This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.