May 10th, 2011

A Misguided War on Chlorophyll

dougAs long as I’m griping about sustainability, here’s something else I want to get off my chest: I’m tired of sustainability being used as an excuse for creating landscapes that are heavy on the paving, light on the plants.

This weekend I picked up a new book that advocates an approach to home landscaping and gardening that the author labels “sustainable.” That’s an admirable goal. But the photos of gardens filled with rocks, pavement, walls, and gravel were depressing. Plants were an afterthought in these gardens, and used sparingly. Somehow the author had decided that living sustainably means eliminating water- and nutrient-using plants from our surroundings.

That’s not my vision of sustainability. Plants aren’t the enemy. The wrong plants, perhaps—plants that are incapable of thriving without regular irrigation, chemical sprays, or maintenance involving power equipment. Instead of paving the planet, let’s plant gardens that provide us with oxygen and food and beauty without guzzling resources.  —Doug Hall

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