Concern about the environment is on the rise (and has been for several years), with 44 percent of Americans saying they worry “a great deal” and 27 percent saying they worry “a fair amount.”
If you fall into either category, you might wonder what you can do around your house to minimize your environmental impact. While it can be intimidating to figure out how to start, the good news is that there are many steps you can take indoors and out.
Want to start with your outdoor living spaces? If so, this guide can help with several simple swaps and strategies you can use to be more eco-friendly outdoors.
Why Make Your Outdoor Living Space Eco-Friendly?
For some people, starting with their outdoor living space makes the transition to environmentally friendly living easier. It can feel daunting to overhaul various aspects of your home’s interior, but the backyard or patio may seem more manageable.
Focusing on your outdoor living space can also help you increase your home’s resale value. Changes to the landscaping, decking, and lighting could all positively influence potential buyers.
Remember that all efforts to reduce your environmental impact count. You’re still moving in the right direction, even if you only make one or two adjustments.
How to Design Sustainable Outdoor Living Spaces
Here are eight options you can take to design a more sustainable and environmentally friendly outdoor living space:
1. Update the Landscaping and Decking
A good starting point is to update your home’s landscaping or decking. Take a look around your property and consider the plants you’ve used to landscape the yard. Are they native to your area? If so, you might want to make some changes. Choosing native plants helps to cut down on water usage (while still helping you beautify your yard). They also attract bees, birds, and other types of local wildlife.
2. Switch Up Your Decking and Patio Materials
If you’ve been thinking about redoing your deck or patio, consider sustainable, eco-friendly decking materials like composite, plastic, bamboo, and permeable pavers. These materials last a long time, so you won’t have to replace them after a few years. In the case of composite and plastic decking, they are often made from recycled materials (meaning fewer items in landfills or incinerators). Permeable pavers also prevent water from being stolen from the water table (which happens when you pour regular concrete for a patio). They also give the patio a more unique look.
3. Start Rainwater Harvesting
If you want to reduce your water usage, start harvesting rainwater. You can purchase fancy water collection systems that attach to your rain gutters or simply set out pails and buckets to collect water when it rains. Whichever option you choose, you can use rainwater to water your plants (indoor and outdoor) and dry spots on the lawn, meaning you won’t have to use your house water. Not only does this minimize water waste, but it also helps you cut down on your water bill!
4. Switch to Energy-Efficient Lighting
If you love your outdoor lights, consider switching to a more eco-friendly version. For example, solar-powered lights don’t have to be plugged into an outlet so they won’t suck up energy from your home (and run up your electricity bill). You can also replace the lightbulbs in your current lights with LED bulbs that have a longer lifespan.
5. Thrift Outdoor Furniture or Choose Eco-Friendly Options
If your current outdoor furniture is in disrepair (or you don’t have any), start by looking at thrift stores or yard sales for used items. You can find a variety of high-quality items at much lower prices than you’d pay at a store or online. You also don’t have to worry about having them shipped to your home, meaning you can start using them sooner.
If you decide to buy new patio furniture, look for brands that use sustainable materials to make their products. Furniture made from reclaimed wood, recycled plastic, and bamboo is more sustainable and low maintenance.
6. Create a Compost Pile
Stop throwing your food scraps in the trash. Instead, set up a compost pile or bin in your backyard (if you have one). Composting reduces the amount of waste you send to landfills. It also provides nutrient-rich soil that can improve your plants’ health and help them thrive.
7. Make Your Own Decorations
Many outdoor decorations are made from unsustainable materials like non-recycled plastic. They also don’t have a long lifespan and end up in the trash after a season or two. Consider making decorations from items you already have to avoid spending money on new things.
Creating your own wind chimes, outdoor cushion covers, planter boxes, and garden benches will help you use the things you have and create one-of-a-kind pieces that make excellent talking points.
8. Practice Eco-Friendly Maintenance
When caring for your plants or lawn, make sure you’re using environmentally friendly products. The same goes for cleaning supplies to clean your furniture or decorations. Not only are these products better for the planet, they’re also better for your health!
Level Up Outdoor Living Spaces Today
From changing your lighting to using sustainable materials and cleaning products, there are lots of ways that you can improve your outdoor living spaces and make them more eco-friendly.
Start with one (or more) of the strategies discussed above, and you’ll be well on your way toward reducing your environmental impact.