A typical garden often involves intensive maintenance and resource usage. However, one expert says there's an alternative that helps conserve resources while also requiring little upkeep: sustainable gardens.
Jeff Epping, director of horticulture at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, says that traditional gardens are by and large "a good thing."
"But sometimes we can rely too much on water, fertilizer, pesticides, those sorts of things to keep them healthy and looking good," he said.
One example of an alternative to a typical bluegrass lawn would be a meadow, which requires much less time, money and effort to keep looking healthy Epping said.
Olbrich Gardens has various meadows as well as other sustainable gardens like rain and gravel gardens. Rain gardens capture a lot of runoff, Epping explained, which helps recharge local water tables and can prevent pollution of lakes, streams, and rivers.
Gravel gardens may be a new concept for some people. It’s a planting style that began in Germany and was recently introduced to the United States. The maintenance is incredibly low because watering is very minimal and weeds have a hard time establishing themselves, which requires less work on the gardener’s part and fewer natural resources, according to Epping.
"We’re trying to, you know, create gardens that don’t have negative environmental impacts," said Epping.
In order to do so, gardeners at Olbrich are using plants that are both native and well-adapted to the local climate in their gardens. Epping highly recommends doing research to find plants that will do well in particular regions.
"You know that old adage, ‘the right plant for the right place?’" he said. "And to do that you have to do a little research and figure out what it is that’s going to grow well for you and then create a design using those plants."