Harnesses the power of the plant
Uses less water
Year-round color and texture
Fewer failures

How would you like to have a beautiful, thriving garden that takes less work to maintain? Well, it’s possible. A “self-sustaining garden” is such a creation.

What’s a self-sustaining garden? It’s an organic garden made up of a group of plants selected for having adapted to the area’s soil and climate. They thrive when they share the land and resources in a way that mimics their natural habitat.

If you’ve never tried organic gardening, it may sound like a lot of hard work, especially if you or your landscape service have been following the more conventional gardening methods advocated by the majority of English and American gardening books. Yet often, the harder a gardener works, the more problems seem to multiply in their landscape.

I’m in favor of the self-sustaining, organic garden approach because it responds to the specifics of our desert soils, climate and the site when the right plant is put in the right place. I rely on three principles in creating my self-sustaining designs:

Follow the concept of permaculture Permaculture design is a naturalistic, vertical and horizontal layering that links the garden to its environment. Emphasize the natural architecture of the plant As an artist, I place emphasis on the plant’s sculptural form – its shape, size, leaf pattern and color. Provide the plant community with an optimal growing environment I build plant communities that are as close as self-sustaining as possible, which helps the plants manage themselves. The result is easier care and less water use.

The secret is less about the plants and more about how they are organized and used. I select landscape plants with the idea of placing them with compatible partners in a logical way, so that the plants will do the majority of the work in maintaining themselves.

When you design the landscape based on creating an environment of natural types of vegetation, a variety of species can grow together in harmony and support each other. The selected plants are then nourished with the right organic soil mix, organic mulch and their native climate.

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Images: NASA