One landscape concept recently growing in popularity in Sacramento, CA, is a river-friendly landscape. For those learning about it for the first time, it is an environmentally friendly, holistic approach to landscape designing that works alongside nature to reduce waste, prevent pollution, and support the integrity of one of California’s key ecosystems, the Sacramento River watershed. A watershed is the area of land where all water drains into the larger waterbody. River-friendly landscape practices are designed to create a healthy, vibrant landscape while conserving water, reducing lawn wastage, and controlling pollution. River-friendly landscape recognizes that our landscape, whether commercial or residential and part of the larger ecosystem of the Sacramento River Watershed. It doesn’t mean that the landscape is left uncontrolled and wild, but rather respects the region’s natural attributes and contributes to the health, diversity, and sustainability of the river ecosystem. It also reconnects people with nature through its landscapes.
Benefits of River-Friendly Landscape
Californians are eligible to rebate from the Sacramento Department of Utilities for water-efficient upgrades. The river-friendly landscape program offers rebates to residential and commercial customers to help pay for the water-efficient installations in the lawn or yard. One of the eligibility requirements for this is not to use invasive or high water use plants. It is highly recommended to use drought-tolerant and native species of flora and retain the existing trees on the landscape that could count towards canopy coverage. Additionally, it is a sign of pride for many Californians to be contributing to the protection of the river ecosystem.
Creating a River-Friendly Landscape
There are many ways to create a river-friendly landscape, including local landscape, nurturing soil, conserving water and energy, protecting air and water quality, and protecting wildlife habitat. To ensure that the landscape you are installing on your property is river-friendly, talk to your landscape architect in Sacramento and follow the guidelines given below.
I. Select and Evaluate Site Carefully
By doing so, you will be made aware of the limitations and opportunities of the site. Even if the landscape is part of the large ecosystem, it is a micro-ecosystem in itself. Consider unique features of smaller zones within site, which could be the line between life and death for some plants. This knowledge is essential to match plant materials to the site. It allows you to collaborate with nature in the long run, saving you time and money.
II. Assessing Soil and Drainage
A good understanding of the soil is necessary to ensure that the landscape design is environmentally friendly. Knowledge of the soil, especially its organic matter, fertility texture, and structure, will help you identify problems such as compaction layers, poor drainage, or contamination with toxic compounds. This, in turn, will allow you to carefully determine the soil quality and what plants will thrive in it, and if any extra remediation or supplemental necessities are there. environmentally
III. Protect Flora and Fauna
Existing flora and fauna give an insight into the ecosystem’s health and design possibilities. Native vegetation, wildlife habitat, and sensitive areas such as wetlands need to be protected. It is better to add any species that could be invasive or invite invasive pests into the micro-system. Conservation and restoration of local flora and fauna habitat connect you to your immediate surroundings and gives a sense of place. Existing native plants also make it a lot easier for landscape designers to plan around them and incorporate them into the landscape.
IV. Consider the Risk for Fire
California is a place prone to wildfires. Though it may seem insignificant, the landscape is critical for fire-related risks. Understanding the topography, potential ammunition for fire, and local weather is crucial to creating a landscape design to reduce fires. Plant selection is also important as some species readily ignite and burn rigorously. Dense hedges are also a fire hazard as competition for limited water, nutrients, and space increases the amount of large dry material, which is easy fuel for the fire.
V. Use Local Plant Communities for Inspiration
A plant community is a relatively distinct vegetation pattern found in a particular locality. It rebuilds the ecosystem the way it was. It is important to consider that plant species within each community overlap and change over time. Using local plant communities as role models allows you to work with nature to create remarkable landscapes that can even replace what has been lost or degraded.
Talk to your landscape contractor to learn more about how to make your landscape environment and river friendly. You can also participate in workshops organized by the city and different organizations if you are interested to know more about how these practices benefit you and the community.