How to Green Up Your Landscaping

Green Landscaping Concept and Planning

The before and after image of a former grass lawn that was xeriscaped to save water and labor.
The before and after image of a former grass lawn that was xeriscaped to save water and labor.
Peter Essick/­Getty Images

­The first step in the greening of your green space is to spend some time on your game plan. With a well thought out plan, you can determine how far you want to go in your green quest. Every little bit helps, so don't think you need to completely rework your landscape or spend a lot of money up front to make a difference. With some research and a little bit of hard work, you can save time, money and help protect the environment.

At its core, green landscaping is about choosing the right kinds of plants for your yard. Native plants are typically the way to go because they can thrive more easily with less time and resources invested in their care. They're also probably a little more resistant to the pests you have in your neck of the woods, which means less time and money spent getting rid of them. Choosing plants that require less water has the obvious effect of saving water and money spent on it.

­First take a big picture look at your landscape. Is it heavily sloped?­ Is it partially shaded? Does it get full sun? What kind of soil do you have? Then find plants that fit the bill, and you've started greening your landscape. If you live in a state where ivy thrives as a hearty, drought resistant ground cover, use it as an alternative to grass. If you have a substantial slope, you may want to go with raised beds built into the hill made from reclaimed materials. Don't try and get a full sun plant to grow in the shade or to get a sandy soil plant to grow in red clay -- it'll only lead to wasted time and money. Work with what you've got.

Also plan for some wildlife areas. Native trees and plants are more likely to attract birds and butterflies than non-native species. You can learn about which invasive species will harm your landscape by checking with your local cooperative extension office. It's typically sponsored by a local university and is a great resource for information about the agriculture and forestry in your area.