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Today, one of first things people ask me is how can I be more efficient and environmentally responsible with my landscape design? People around the country, from the average homeowner to corporate property managers, are seeking landscape architecture solutions that are cost-effective, sustainable, low-impact and attractive for both residential and professional environments.

A thorough landscape design and build process should be committed to resource conservation, intelligent irrigation and bio-diversity in plant life. The key to creating ecologically sensitive and economical outdoor solutions is involving your landscape architect in the process as early as possible.

It’s not enough to create a landscape that is environmentally friendly, which, of course, is the buzz phrase of the decade. The landscape also needs to be aesthetically pleasing with sound design principles that maximize efficiency. Early planning is very important to achieving well thought out, eco-friendly and sustainable landscapes.

A landscape design plan that reduces the use of pesticides and fertilizers and conserves water is a good first step. Installation and proper management of underground irrigation and drip systems that control excessive watering is a great environmental and economic benefit. Rain gardens and water harvesting systems can be cost-effective ways to utilize water runoff and rain, collecting, storing and cleaning water before allowing it to be released slowly back into the environment or used for consumption.

Additionally, utilization of porous or pervious materials for unplanted areas and walkways is important. Plant life that can collect water run-off and the use of pervious pavers, flagstone and gravel in walkways and other unplanted areas helps to collect rainwater, reduce water run-off and increase water absorption.

We recommend a bio-diverse landscape design as well as organic grounds and plant care management. A bio-diverse landscape supports a wide variety of life from plants and animals to insects and beneficial pollinators. Organic land care avoids synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, providing a safer environment for everyone.

Another design option on the rise is the utilization of green roofs and living walls. Green roof systems offer many public and private benefits and great design flexibility. Living walls are partially or completely covered with vegetation, providing visual interest.

From green roofs to beautiful landscapes without synthetic pesticides, we encourage an ecologically sound landscape design. Whether you are a homeowner or corporate building manager, select an experienced landscape architect that will be responsible for the design plan, landscape build and maintenance.

Robert Schucker is president of Midland Park-based Eco Earth Design and R&S Landscaping. For more information, please call 201-447-6205 or visit www.rscape.com or www.ecoearthdesign.com.

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