Author: Deborah Kenley, Senior Coordinator, Green Corporate Grounds, Credit Valley Conservation
If you own, rent, or operate a commercial property, the choices you make around landscape management directly impact the environmental sustainability and the public image of your business.
Here’s the good news: aligning your property maintenance practices with consumer values is likely easier than you think. In fact, sustainable landscaping is about working with nature rather than against it, and because of this, it actually requires less maintenance — a win-win for the environment and your bottom line.
So, let’s start by focusing on all the things you don’t need to do this year:
Don’t cut back the plants. Cutting back all your plants in the fall can destroy an important winter wildlife habitat. This year, consider leaving some native wildflower and grass stalks standing to provide birds and pollinators food and a place to nest.
Don’t turn the soil. Turning or tilling the first few inches of soil to prevent weeds is completely unnecessary and often damages soil structure, making your property more susceptible to erosion. Instead, save time and effort by simply applying 3 to 4 inches of good quality natural mulch around your plants.
Don’t shear the shrubs. Continually shaping shrubs with shears may be something contractors recommend, but it can be hard on the shrubs. Shearing promotes disease and the growth of thin, pest-prone growth shoots. Over time, your shrubs will begin to weaken and look patchy or half-dead. Instead, dead branches can be pruned annually.
Don’t blow the leaves. Each winter, beneficial insects like butterflies and ladybugs rely on fallen leaves and other organic debris to cover and insulate them from the elements. Leaf blowers not only destroy their habitat, but they also use a considerable amount of fuel. Give these insects a chance to warm up and do their thing by letting leaves naturally compost on-site or simply wait until late spring to move them.
Don’t keep so much lawn. One of the main problems with lawns is that they don’t benefit or contribute to native ecosystems. If the only thing you have on your property is grass, the area is essentially a pollinator desert. On top of discouraging biodiversity, lawns also require heavy resources to maintain (gas, labour, water), they negatively impact soil quality, and they don’t absorb stormwater the way a garden, meadow or forest does. So, consider replacing part of your lawn with groups of native trees or wildflowers to support healthy bees, birds, butterflies, and local water systems.
Ready to learn more? Credit Valley Conservation is offering businesses a free sustainable landscaping assessment and action plan through its Greening Corporate Grounds program. Visit cvc.ca/gcg for more information or connect with us at [email protected].