Paying Attention to Whats in the Materials You

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One of the best ways to mess up your sustainable game plan is to mindlessly drive over to your local garden-supply store and get a bunch of the same old stuff without asking yourself or the clerks where it came from and what the impacts of the purchase will be, both in your landscape and at the source of the materials. You need to ensure that you're keeping your impact on the environment to a minimum.

Additionally, some of the building materials common to landscaping projects present toxicity problems such as offgassing of chemicals into the atmosphere, leaching them into the soils, and in some cases presenting significant risks to people and animals through direct contact. And don't forget toxicity to the workers who make and use the materials. Table 2-2 shows some toxic and harmful landscape materials and their nontoxic alternatives.

Table 2-2 Toxic Materials and Alternatives

Toxic (or Suspected Toxic) Material

Safer Alternative

Arsenic-treated wood

ACQ-treated wood, black locust, white

oak, cedar, redwood, steel


Alternative glues, mechanical fasteners

like nails, screws, and bolts

Paints, finishes, and solvents

Low VOC finishes, or best of all, materials

that don't need finishing


High-density polyethylene or other plas

tics, non-plastic alternatives

Railroad ties

Recycled plastic landscape ties, sal

vaged timbers

Toxic materials are rarely, if ever, necessary. Folks created beautiful gardens long before the invention of PVC, solvents, and other harmful materials. By choosing natural materials, you end the problem before it begins. Environmentally friendlier materials are showing up everywhere these days. You'll often find them at good prices in major chains as well as at local suppliers. You also can find more and more specialty stores that carry only materials that have been carefully screened for sustainability. And, of course, you can always shop online. Visit and www. for even more information. I talk more about hardscaping materials in Chapter 12.

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Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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