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Sustainable Landscaping for Today's Resorts
by Jim Karmie, ForeverLawn

Sustainable Landscaping for Today's Resorts by Jim Karmie, ForeverLawn

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, on vacation.

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 concerns.

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.

Terrain Development
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 synthetic lawn.

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.

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