Landscape alternatives capture rainfall in leafy green foliage, with the intention of increasing infiltration, filtration, and evapotranspiration of rainfall and runoff. Well-designed landscape alternatives require little maintenance and less irrigation after establishment than turf.
Landscape alternatives allow homeowners to customize their property’s landscape to their liking. A guiding principle when designing landscape alternatives is “the right plant for the right place”. Using both native and non-native plants is acceptable as long as the non-native plants are not invasive and do not require frequent watering. Various landscape alternatives are available, including:
Xeriscaping refers to landscaping, plantings and gardening practices that reduce or eliminate the need for watering by selecting plants based on their ability to survive with little water. Synonymous with water conservation, xeriscaping was originally promoted in areas with perennial water shortages. Additional benefits include reducing water bills, lowering maintenance requirements, and better plant survival rates and aesthetics during drought periods. Xeriscaping can be used on a lot-by-lot basis or in combination with larger residential LID programs. The Region of Peel’s Fusion Landscaping® program is an example of this.
Tree clusters are another residential landscape alternative. Tree clusters improve water quality, generate organic soils, absorb greenhouse gases, and provide shade for homes. Tree clusters require larger lot sizes, preferably with no overhead wires. They can be planted as standalone features or as part of a larger residential LID landscape.
STEP have a guide to amending and improving topsoil to improve the water retention capacity and promote healthy vegetation. I can be found here on our main website.