As homeowners become more and more aware of their effect on the environment, one of the unique ways that they are going green is through their landscapes.

For example, many individuals are choosing to reduce or completely eliminate the use of pesticides due to their deleterious effect on the ecosystem. Pesticides often seep into the ground and eventually make their way into bodies of water where they can harm wildlife. Manual labor is often a more effective way to keep weeds at bay.

“We love helping homeowners learn about the different options for making their landscapes environmentally friendly,” said Heidi Sibert, Senior Vice President and Landscape Architect at James Martin Associates (JMA). “We show them how it’s possible to create a landscape that is both ‘green’ and gorgeous.”

JMA offers many sustainable options for their clients, including organic-based fertilizer and mulch, drip irrigation, native plantings, rain barrels, and cisterns.

Some homeowners are going a step further and creating backyard sanctuaries for pollinators. Bees, butterflies, birds, and other pollinators have experienced a deep decline in populations, mainly due to pesticides, habitat loss, and climate change.

Sibert recently worked on a project in Evanston in which the client, Tamima Itani, had become passionate about building a haven for pollinators.

To start with, the landscape designers at JMA recommended the removal of all turf from Itani’s backyard, and then conceptualized the idea of interlocking gravel paths and segmented gardens. After these were constructed, Itani could easily walk through the yard and view each garden area individually.

Not only did Itani research native Illinois plants to incorporate into each garden, but she also discovered which flowers should be planted together to attract pollinators to specific gardens.

As an avian photographer, these gardens created ideal conditions as she could then photograph the birds without disturbing them or trampling through the garden beds.

Only a few months after installation, the garden started attracting pollinators such as birds, bees, butterflies, and dragonflies. Also, despite the fact that pesticides have never been used, the garden has flourished for several seasons.

“To date, I have documented 75 bird species that have visited my pollinator garden,” Itani said. “I love being able to spend time among the plants, flowers, insects, and birds. My whole yard feels alive now.”

The garden is now certified as a Wildlife City Habitat in Evanston, and is just one of a growing number of gardens to incorporate green solutions into their conception and development.

Contact James Martin Associates to learn more about how to create a beautiful and environmentally friendly landscape.

All photos are courtesy of Tamima Itani.