Landscape alternatives capture rainfall in leafy green foliage. This allows for infiltration, filtration, and evapotranspiration of rainfall and runoff. Well-designed landscape alternatives require little maintenance and less irrigation after establishment than sod lawns. They are a great water conservation tool.
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:
- Fusion Landscaping®
- Tree Clusters
The Region of Peel’s Fusion Landscaping® program is a great example of a landscape alternative. Fusion Landscaping® combines the lush splendour of traditional gardens with modern, eco-friendly plants. This program uses local market research and social marketing to promote behavioural change, to address residents’ unique needs, and to reduce outdoor water use.
Xeriscaping refers to landscaping, plantings and gardening practices that reduce or eliminate the need for watering. Synonymous with water conservation, xeriscaping was originally promoted in areas with perennial water shortages.
Xeriscaping involves selecting plants based on their ability to survive with little water. Water savings aside, 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.
Tree clusters are another residential landscape alternative. They intercept rainfall, allowing for evapotranspiration and for infiltration of stormwater runoff. 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.