Eco-friendly backyard designs

14 January, 2015

"Form follows function." This famous anecdote about modern architecture can also apply to your backyard design. Basically, it means that the way something looks should always come second to what it does. When it comes to your yard, you can compile a design that's both aesthetically pleasing and good for the environment. Eco-friendly planning isn't too difficult to implement, either. Here are a few tips for making your yard both beautiful and functional:

Used recycled materials
Whether you're building a walkway or a deck, you can find ways to reuse materials. For instance, create a patio area using glass tiles constructed from recycled bottles. Or, build your deck out of reclaimed wood. Making use of materials that have been used in the past prevents you from wasting new wood, brick, etc. You can also visit construction sites or talk to your neighbors. Sometimes people don't use all the materials they ordered when completing a home project. The wood you used in your kitchen when you remodeled? The leftovers might make a nice pergola!

Check certification
Sometimes, buying used products isn't an option. In that case, pick eco-friendly certified materials instead. For instance, pick wood that has the Forest Stewardship Council seal of approval. Using that wood won't decrease the size of the rainforest or deforest the U.S. 

Make use of rainwater
You probably spend money to keep your lawn looking green even when you haven't seen rain in a while, and those costs add up. Not to mention, watering plants uses fresh water that could be conserved. Revamp your yard by turning it into a rain garden. These types of gardens distribute rainwater and runoff to irrigate plants naturally. Runoff can come from your house, garage roof, etc. The key is to redistribute it. You'll have to research how rain gardens work to plan a system that effectively distributes condensation throughout the yard. The plants you use matter as well, as some take to the system better than others.

Choose durable outdoor furniture sets
Buying products with poor construction can actually harm the environment. Cheaply made items fall apart sooner, and you end up throwing out and wasting the materials used to build them. Instead, purchase high-quality, long-lasting outdoor seating. That way, the furniture you buy now will last a lifetime, only using a small amount of raw materials. Also, if cushions or seat covers are worn out, don't replace your entire sectional or chair – just get new cushions and covers.