Sustainable Backyard Improvements to Make Now

With more people working from home and upsizing from their condos to suburban homes, it makes sense they are also investing in their outdoor spaces.

For the past few years, Millennials have been ushering in a new generation of landscape design and property care—design that puts sustainability, new technology, privacy and experience at its core.

A recent Trusted Media Brands survey shows that one in three consumers have increased their efforts to incorporate environmentally friendly practices, and 70% prefer to purchase eco-friendly products. Some of the easiest first steps toward a more sustainable lifestyle can be taken right in your own backyard. You can create an outdoor oasis with these simple and sustainable tips—minimal green thumb required.

Save time and water with low-maintenance landscaping. Plant the seed for a hassle-free backyard by planting perennials or shrubs, which require minimal upkeep. Support your local environment by choosing native plants as they typically require less water, fertilizer and pesticides, and are beneficial to pollinators. Plus, native plants can store excess carbon dioxide for improved air quality.

Collect and reuse rainwater. Conserving rainwater is a simple way to make your outdoor space more sustainable. Install a reusable water drum in your yard below your gutter spouts to collect water when it rains. Once full, use the rainwater to water plants or clean exterior surfaces like decking, siding and outdoor furniture.

Choose energy-efficient LED lighting. Replace outdated, energy-draining deck and landscape lighting with energy-efficient or solar-powered outdoor lights. LEDs are extremely long-lasting, easy to install and use significantly less energy compared to more commonly used incandescent lights. Not only can you enjoy your yard long after the sun goes down, but you also can feel good knowing you are making a sustainable choice.

Grow “up.” A vertical garden can be an attractive, artful addition to any yard or deck, freeing up valuable ground in small spaces without compromising plush greenery. To start, build a frame against a wall or fence, or plant around an existing structure, like a pergola or latticework—all of which work great for climbing plants such as vines, wisteria, honeysuckle and ivy.

Use wood-alternative decking. One of the greenest products available for the home is composite decking, which is manufactured from more than 95% recycled materials. Unlike wood, composite decking resists fading, staining, scratching and mold, and needs only an occasional soap-and-water cleaning. Since composite decking never needs to be stripped, stained or painted, no environmentally harmful chemicals are required. For green bonus points, recycle plastic grocery bags and newspaper sleeves. Instead of ending up in landfills, these polyethylene plastic films can be repurposed into high-performance composite decking.

These easy upgrades will not only benefit the planet but also create an outdoor space that will leave your neighbors green with envy.