What does it mean to build a sustainable landscape?
This year Avant Gardening & Landscaping became certified as a sustainable business under the Wisconsin Green Master’s Program. The programs provides each recognized business with a sustainability score. We are constantly striving to improve our score and we find it an important part of accountability to share our efforts with our clients.
First as Heather Venhaus describes in her book “Designing the Sustainable Site” the 3 pillars of sustainability are:
The Planet – What we do needs to protect and enhance the planet
Profit – Projects must be profitable, but cannot be solely focused on profit
People—Social Equity, quality of life, health and mental well-being
Success of a project is measured on all three of the pillars working together.
At Avant, sustainability begins with our team culture. We believe our team is comprised of our clients, landscape designers, installation and maintenance staff, our front office, the community, the environment, and our suppliers. It is a big team, but everyone plays their part.
Our part comprises making sure we manage stormwater effectively in our designs by encouraging infiltration rather than adding runoff to lakes and streams. Recycling whatever we can including plants, flagstone, bricks, yard waste, metals, plastics, etc. We are working to implement a ‘No Idle Policy’ for our vehicles to minimize our fuel use and carbon output. We consider the placement of trees so as to cool homes in summer and allow solar gain in winter. We recognize that soil is one massive ecosystem that needs to be carefully handled. We try hard to minimize compaction by using one set of tracks to access our hardscaping projects and we regularly put down plywood to decrease the chance of creating ruts. When ruts do occur, we fill them with our compost/topsoil mix and seed in new grass to maintain an excellent soil quality.
Our maintenance staff has developed an excellent organic lawn care program that includes top dressing stressed lawns with compost and applying microbial activating teas to stimulate healthy root and foliage growth. We have had great success creating chemical free lawns that are safe for children and animals to romp and play. We recycle yard waste into a wonderful compost, rich soil that has been heated and cured over a 2 year period. We recycle metal, plastic, and cardboard.
Our efforts are getting noticed. In October Becky Kielstrup and Liza Lightfoot were invited to discuss sustainable landscapes on The Larry Meiller Show on Wisconsin Public Radio!
We are proud of our achievements and are always looking for new items and practices we can introduce for our clients who want to partner with us to protect our environment and enhance our quality of life.