Sustainable Maintenance Best Practices

Machine cutting grass, person shoes in the background.

Save Time, Money and the Planet

In recent years, there’s been a lot of press about “No-Mow May”, a call-to-action urging us to leave our lawns alone for one month a year to encourage vegetation to grow and help “feed the bees”. The intentions behind this movement are admirable. But in reality, it falls short of achieving its mission. In fact, the benefit to pollinators is minimal, and by not mowing for a month, weeds like dandelion can proliferate and hinder the growth of beneficial native plants. So, here are a couple of simple, alternative messages we can get behind:

Less Lawn for Longer — Upping the Ante on #NoMowMay

Instead of encouraging large, lazy lawns, a much more impactful strategy would be to focus on creating landscapes that provide a sustained menu of healthy food and habitat for pollinators. Less lawn is also better for the environment and your bottom line.

One of the main problems with lawns is that they contrast strongly with native ecosystems. If the only thing you have on your property is grass, the area is essentially a pollinator desert.

On top of discouraging biodiversity, lawns also require heavy resources to maintain (gas, labour, water), they negatively impact soil quality, and they don’t absorb stormwater the way a garden, meadow or forest does. This means most of the stormwater, and all the pollutants that go with it, ends up in our sewers, leaving us prone to flooding and groundwater contamination.

Butterfly on long stems of flowers.

So, consider replacing part of your property’s lawn with groups of native trees and shrubs to support healthy bees, birds, butterflies and local water systems. Creating a wildflower and native grass meadow is another great way to introduce beauty and biodiversity to your property. These do require preparation to install, but once established, the up-keep is minimal.

Let It Be — What You Don’t Need to Do

Sustainable landscaping is about working with nature rather than against it, and because of this, it actually requires less maintenance — a win-win for you and the environment.

Here are a few practices you and/or your contractor don’t need to do this year:

Shear the shrubs. Continually shaping shrubs with shears may be something your contractor recommends, but it can be hard on the shrubs. Shearing promotes disease and pest-prone water sprouts to grow, requiring more frequent trimming. Over time, your shrubs will begin to weaken and look patchy or half-dead. Instead, you can simply prune dead and crossed branches annually.

Cut back the plants. Cutting back all your plants in the fall can destroy an important winter wildlife habitat. Consider leaving some native wildflower and grass stalks standing to provide birds and pollinators food and a place to nest.

Turn the soil. Turning the first few inches of soil in beds or around trees to prevent weeds is an age-old practice that’s completely unnecessary and may even make matters worse. Instead, save time and effort by simply applying seven to ten centimetres (three to four inches) of good quality natural mulch like shredded cedar around native plants.

Get rid of the leaves. Each winter, invertebrates like caterpillars and beetles, rely on fallen leaves and other organic debris to cover and insulate them from the elements. Take this as an incentive to avoid the hassle of raking up your entire property this year.

Row of shrubs
An example of shrubs that have been excessively sheared.

Reduce your impact on the environment with sustainable landscaping. Connect with us to learn more.

Scroll to Top