sustainability in landscape design

Sustainable design has received increasing attention in recent decades, but its core principles have been a fundamental part of the profession of landscape architecture for more than a century. Managing water in the landscape, preserving and enhancing soil quality, choosing plants with respect to the ecological context, and considering the long-term health and maintenance of the landscape are all core practices within our field. More than that, landscape architects design to encourage people to care for and appreciate their environment in a way that will benefit future generations as much as today’s users. For more detail on environmental ethics within the profession, see ASLA’s page here.

At merge studio we apply an ecological sensibility in all of our work, whether or not clients request it. Our planting selections are typically 65-70% natives, most are drought tolerant, and all are organized to make the most use of efficient irrigation systems. With the growing consciousness of drought conditions in California, more of our clients are asking for lawn replacements, drought tolerant softscapes and water harvesting. This might mean developing a new tank system to harvest rainwater, or it could mean upgrading an old irrigation system and altering the shape of the land to better absorb runoff. With changing municipal codes, re-using graywater in the landscape is also becoming much more feasible.

Permaculture is an ecological design system developed in Australia in the 1970s and proven worldwide, which seeks to maximize productivity on the site by integrating systems design at multiple levels. Often this means linking food production to resource conservation and re-use. Since any new system or planting requires a certain kind of maintenance regime, the level of implementation depends entirely on the desires and capabilities of the client.

merge studio provides knowledge and experience on all these subjects and more. We love it when clients are concerned about the ecological implications of their landscape design choices, and are happy to tailor site-specific arrangements and systems that will benefit your family and environment for decades to come. Any good design starts with a detailed conversation to clarify your needs and thoroughly explore the possibilities of your site.