Nature Designs: How to Build a Sustainable Estate Landscape System

By Steve Jacobs, Nature Designs

Hans Christian Andersen wrote, “Just living is not enough … one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.” With our hectic schedules, most of our sunshine, freedom and flower appreciation takes place not in the great outdoors, but in the comfort of our own backyards. Because this commune with nature is so essential to our peace of mind, many of us have landscaped, or plan to landscape, our homes to create a beautiful outdoor experience. It’s important, however, to make sure our landscapes are not only beautiful but sustainable. Non-sustainable landscaping systems deplete the earth and waste precious resources. Here are some tips on how to build a sustainable landscape system:


  • Track your monthly water usage, check for leaks and repair them immediately.
  • Establish a water budget and track water usage of your landscape.
  • Use on-line irrigation controllers such as SmartLink.
  • Review your irrigation system at least once a month and make repairs as needed to reduce waste caused by leaks, run-off and overspray.
  • Convert your conventional sprinkler system to a drip system where possible.
  • Irrigate between midnight and 7am.
  • Consider installing a greywater system.
  • Reduce or eliminate runoff of rain water by creating bioswales.

  • Convert incandescent landscape lighting to energy efficient LED. This can result in an 80% reduction in energy usage.


  • Install solar heating.
  • Replace inefficient and loud single speed pool pumps with high-efficiency, quite, variable speed pumps.
  • Convert to a salt system, UV, ionic, or oxidation water quality system.

Planting Beds

  • Select drought tolerant, disease resistant plants.
  • Mulch planter beds (preferably with mulch and compost generated on-site).
  • Build a fertilization and weed control schedule.
  • Use non-toxic, organic preventative remedies (worm castings, proper pruning, insecticidal soaps).
  • Reduce green waste – select plants that can mature into the space in which they are planted.
  • Retain green waste (clippings) and compost it on site.
  • Recycle green and construction debris at local recycling facilities.
  • Rake to remove leaves and debris in planter areas instead using a blower. This will retain top soil, mulch, and reduce dust and noise.


  • Limit square footage and plant drought tolerant turf grass.
  • Add compost and other organic soil amendments to improve the soil fertility.
  • Select drought tolerant varieties.
  • Use a composting mower that recycles lawn clippings.

Nature Designs, San Diego’s award-winning landscaping company, balances these sustainable practices with great design and construction. Nature Designs provides irrigation audits, water management, organic gardening and pest management services. They recycle their green and construction debris, convert incandescent landscape lighting to LED, and install smart irrigation controllers to allow for remote programming.
If you’re interested in creating a beautiful and sustainable garden, visit Nature Designs at

or call

(760) 945-4321 for more information.