Excerpt: Introduction from “Beautifully Sustainable” Sustainable”

In the last few years, we have seen remarkable benefits of efforts to green our urban and developed world. Green walls are alive with plants. Ditches that carry runoff are now beautiful swales of flowering, fruiting, and seed-producing plants. Raingardens soak up excess runoff that can otherwise cause problems downstream.  Driving surfaces are now designed to create habitat and benefit the groundwater below. Diverse gardens of native plants are crucial habitat for pollinators like bees.

These are times of rapid change. Our climate is changing, making gardening more difficult. What may have worked in the past is no longer as easy, or even possible. We must brace for long droughts punctuated by flooding rains. A combination of human impacts threaten the diversity of life that supports us. Growing long-lived perennials and native grasses reduces the impact of climate change by requiring less mowing and storing carbon in their deep roots.

Following the steps outlined in this guidebook, you will have the best opportunity to become part of the solution — and learn what will work best for you and all the creatures who depend on the plants and soil you nurture.

This book is about a more relaxed approach that permits an evolution from tightly controlled conventions to a more easily maintained landscape.

While example landscapes in this book feature the Upper Midwest, the principles detailed in Beautifully Sustainable apply throughout North America and much of the world. Moving away from temperate climates toward either longer or shorter growing seasons requires some modification, but the basic principles apply to all garden design situations where more sustainable features are desired.

You can still have a level space for games and child play, as well as a viewing platform for the showy perennial gardens beyond. However, a less immaculate turf – one including a mix of species – will be much easier to maintain.

Here you will learn how to save water and time, while restoring the diversity that is threatened with extinction.


What You Will Learn in The Book

With a few simple principles, you will be guided to:

  • better understand what landscape features are most important to you;
  • enhance desirable views;
  • shape slopes to harvest surface runoff;
  • choose plants, understanding what they need to thrive; and
  • master techniques to nurture your new habitat.