Landscaping and Nature

Outdoor landscaping and connections to nature are crucial aspects of sustainable houses and offer an invaluable supplement to good indoor spaces. The outside of a building can not only improve the efficiency, beauty and health of a home, it makes important contributions to the natural ecology, biodiversity and climate — especially in densely populated urban areas.

Mulch-covered courtyard garden with open sliding doors to a living room with a fireplace to the left.

Aesthetics and amenity

Good sustainable architecture not only creates enjoyable, comfortable indoor spaces, it works with the outside to embrace natural beauty and thereby encourage time spent outdoors.

Offering views of nature and connections to greenery, landscaped areas, such as gardens, courtyards, green walls and green roof tops, enhance the aesthetic and amenity of a house. Landscaping can also be planted and grown to provide shade over outdoor areas or exterior walls, and to improve privacy from overlooking neighbours. Green roofs can remove heat from the air, and reduce temperatures of the roof surface and surrounding air, which can even improve the efficiency of solar PV arrays.

Water/waste management

Harvested rainwater can be used to irrigate gardens and plants, saving precious potable water and reducing the release of stormwater to the street. Appropriate planting of native and drought-tolerant plants can reduce the need for watering. Vegetation can even take up effluent (greywater) through subsurface irrigation.

A composting system for food waste can provide nutrient-rich soil that supports healthy plant growth while reducing the strains and pressures on the public waste system.

Air quality and microclimates

Vegetation filters air and helps improve air quality inside and outside. By cooling the air, vegetation plays an important role in mitigating the heat island effect that occurs in highly developed areas.

Landscaping can also enhance passive heating and cooling, as trees, shrubs and bushes provide windbreaks, buffers and filters to channel air movement. The foliage of trees, vines and other plants provide shade and thereby help cool surrounding air.

A corner window with views to garden greenery.

One of the many windows in Hideout House offering views of surrounding greenery.

Biodiversity, habitat creation and local food production

Sustainable landscaping works with nature to support the local ecosystem, helping protect and restore biodiversity and local habitats. Landscaped gardens, especially in urban areas, can be part of a green network for bees, birds and insects, crucially important for pollination and food production. Saving and planting local seeds, rehabilitating and maintaining fertile soil and growing produce aids the health and longevity of the environment and food security.

Health benefits

Countless health benefits can be attributed to spending time outdoors. Access to fresh air (oxygen) and sunlight (vitamin D) is essential for physical health and helps to improve mood, as does being close to nature, which is proven to help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. Outdoor areas provide space for relaxation, recreation and activity, such as gardening or outdoor playing. They provide places for children and pets, and offer easy access to the outdoors for people whose mobility is restricted.