One of the top features of a well-developed
resort is a well-groomed
exterior and other beautiful visual
elements that make it an attractive
place for owners to return, year after year,
In a time when sustainability has become
such an important aspect of doing “good
business,” this goal has gone beyond the
visually appealing to also consider factors
like renewable resources and other ecological
But is it possible to provide a location that is both aesthetically pleasing and sustainable? The answer is yes.
The first area to consider is water conservation.
The type of grass that is being used
can play an important factor here. There
is a wide variety of grasses designed to use
lower amounts of water in order to grow
and stay healthy; the best type of grass for a
specific vacation resort depends on its location.
For instance, a timeshare in Colorado
will not be able to grow the same type of
grass as one in Florida.
Adjusting the length of time the sprinklers, based on the local season and
amount of rainfall, will help keep from
wasting water as well. While it may take a bit
more involvement by the property management
team or groundskeeper, the results can
be rewarding, in terms of both water-use
reduction and potential cost savings.
It’s all about “less is more,” especially when reducing the amount of grass and adding some “xeriscape” to the grounds. Xeriscape
is a style of landscape design that requires
little or no irrigation or other maintenance;
it can include adding rock gardens and
other types of hardscape, which limit the
amount of water needed. Rock gardens and
increased use of hardscape in general will
limit the amount of water needed and can
be done in any region.
Trees, too, can add personality to a
resort and help with sustainability at the
same time. Their eco-friendly purpose
varies, based on location. Ski resorts and
mountain getaways can benefit from trees
as shelters from the wind. By creating a
wind-barrier, electrical and heating costs
can be lowered. In tropical climates, keeping
trees close to a building can provide
shade, which aids in cooling. This in turn
limits the amount of air conditioning
required to keep everyone comfortable.
There is also a kind of landscaping that
maintains its beauty year round with
minimal maintenance and practically
no consumption of water, fertilizer, or
manpower: synthetic grass. This can bring
life to areas where grass cannot grow (due
to shade or too much sun) or increase the
functionality of places that receive high traffic,
offering a life-like grassy look. Synthetic
grass can be used in any climate. Flower
gardens, xeriscape, and any other landscaping
methods can also be incorporated into a
The opportunities for sustainability, too,
are much more significant. With water
shortages and mandatory conservation in
many areas, synthetic grass greatly reduces
the demand for water or the use of lawn
care equipment (which cuts down on
fossil fuels and chemicals). Additionally,
decomposed natural grass trimmings
(caused by mowing) generate methane gas
and acidic leachate.
Our industry has a number of ways to
increase sustainability when looking at
vacation resort landscaping options. The
more steps we take to be more ecologically
conscious, the more each local resort and
the community as a whole will benefit.
Jim Karmie works with ForeverLawn, Inc., and is a
member of the Sustainability
Group within ARDA’s Construction & Design Council.