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SULIS - Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series.
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Sustainability and Landscape Design

There are five considerations in designing a sustainable landscape. The landscape should be:

  • Visually Pleasing
  • Cost Effective
  • Functional
  • Maintainable
  • Environmentally Sound

These considerations are not new nor have they been without considerable discussion. Problems arise, however when some considerations are forgotten or unrecognized until after the design process is complete and implementation has started.

Sustainability in the design process is also affected by the order of the main considerations. Having a visually pleasing landscape is usually the most important consideration and is addressed first in the design process. This is easy to understand since it is the primary concern for most clients. A close second, or of equal importance to a client, is cost.

Many times functionality, maintenance and the environment receive less attention or are neglected altogether until a problem arises in the completed landscape.

With a sustainable approach to landscape design, the visually pleasing and cost effectiveness considerations should be the last ones evaluated.

This in no way diminishes the importance of a "good looking" or cost effective landscape, but challenges the designer to create that beauty from a more sustainable approach.

A more sustainable order of considerations would be:

  1. Functional
  2. Maintainable
  3. Environmentally Sound
  4. Cost Effective
  5. Visually Pleasing

It is important to note that none of these considerations are mutually exclusive in the design process. The development of any design will require that each piece be revisited several times in light of the others before the best solution is reached.

For more information on sustainable landscape design, please see The Base Plan.

 
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