Checklist for Beneficial Landscape

Towards a More Beneficial Landscape

For you, your family, future generations and the broader environment


Use the checklist below to check off, if you want, the things you’re already doing and put a star by things you want to start doing. No scorecard, just enjoy the process and do what you can!

Lawn care, watering (if you water):

  • Water deeply and infrequently to encourage deeper-rooting and resiliency  
  • Water early in the day to avoid loss from wind and evaporation and limit potential fungal problems
  • Water efficiently (don’t water pavement, make sure any automatic system is working properly, use rain sensor to avoid watering after rain, etc.)
  • Allow summer dormancy of cool season grasses
Lawn care, mowing:
  • Mow high to help retain moisture, shade and cool the soil and reduce weed germination.
  • Mow only as needed instead of the common practice of once a week no matter what.
  • Leave clippings on the lawn to decrease mowing time and provide valuable nitrogen
  • Try a quiet, person-powered reel mower (and rake and broom) to reduce fuel use, air and noise pollution (and use it as an excuse not to go to the gym that day)
Lawn care, fertilizing and pest and weed control:
  • Reduce chemical use by applying efficiently and only as needed (not by the pre-determined “4-6 step” plans). Overuse increases the need to water and mow, may create fungal problems and may kill beneficial insects, earthworms and microorganisms
  • Use organic fertilizers and pest and weed controls
  • Adjust attitude: some “weeds” are beneficial (like clover); any monoculture is vulnerable; the neighbor may not be the best example to follow; not everything that moves is out to kill the lawn; and change can be good
Lawn care, other:
  • Plant lower-maintenance turfgrass varieties
  • Replace areas of turf with mulched beds of groundcovers, perennials, ornamental grasses and shrubs
Plant selection and placement:
  • Plant species that are adapted to specific site conditions to maximize their health and reduce need for supplemental water, fertilizer and pest control
  • Group plants by their water needs
  • Select natives or other well-adapted, non-invasive species
  • Increase the diversity of plants to increase interest, resiliency and benefits to wildlife
  • Select low-maintenance plants that thrive and look good without constant attention
  • Plant for shade to reduce home energy use and create comfortable outdoor spaces
  • Plant conifers to shield winter winds and reduce home heating costs
Materials selection:
  • Use local materials to reduce transport
  • Divide perennials and share or trade with neighbors
  • Grow plants from seeds and cuttings
  • Use materials that will last
  • Reuse and recycle
  • Use organic mulches, not rock. Organic mulches modify soil temperatures, add organic matter to the soil, reduce weed problems, and help retain soil moisture.
Water conservation:
  • Mulch planting beds, trees, gardens (ideally with locally generated materials)
  • Direct downspouts to planted areas instead of pavement
  • Use drip irrigation
  • Aerate lawn if compacted
  • Create a rain garden to allow more rainwater infiltration and reduce runoff
  • Collect water in rain barrels for use later
  • Use porous pavement or other permeable surfaces for driveways, walks and patios
Compost:
  • Garden waste, leaves, weeds (ideally before they seed) and grass clippings
  • Kitchen scraps, tea bags, etc.
  • Coffee grounds from home and office are good sources of nitrogen
  •  Manure, hay, etc.
Grow your own:
  • Vegetables and herbs
  • Fruits (strawberries, raspberries, grapes, apples, cherries...)
  • Nuts (pecan, hazelnut, walnut...)

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