Landscaping and gardening are areas of concern in the modern-day practices of architecture and urbanism. Past discussions by construction industry stakeholders have voiced the concern and need to build sustainable and resilient buildings, cities and urban centres. Basically, the issue of sustainability in the built environment has been raised in various proceedings involving both the government agents and the industry professionals.

Green architecture has evolved since to incorporate a philosophy that seeks to minimize the negative environmental impact of buildings while encouraging efficiency and moderation in the use of materials, energy and development space. For the whole cycle to be complete, outdoor architecture must not be overlooked. Landscape architecture, therefore, gets constrained to bend and dance according to the rule of the game.

When it comes to landscaping and gardening, the design of sites with indigenous plants requiring minimal irrigation and watering and the use of paving materials that allow rainwater permeability and percolation summarizes the practice.

When you have created that elegant piece of architecture with equally matching and beautiful facades, speaking all the architectural design principles on your reach, the next thing to look at is the immediate surrounding of the building. Here gardening comes in. Therefore, the choice of the best plants that suit your site comes in as a paramount consideration and can be guided by factors such as aesthetics, growth habits, site conditions and water requirements.

Aesthetics and growth habits are sought generally to fit the garden in the large scheme of the building. For the purposes of environmental consciousness, aesthetics as a factor should be married to the functional needs of the plants to help in erosion control, noise mitigation, wind-breaking and most importantly the creation of outdoor rooms for recreation.

The sustainable use of energy, water and materials is influenced by site conditions and water requirements. The green practice seeks to develop low demand landscapes by the use of plants that are adaptive to the local climatic conditions. For a site located in the arid and semi-arid areas, for example, plants used in beautifying the surrounding should be drought resistant to minimize the need for constant watering that will help save on the water resources. In the case the designer wants to protect soil from erosion, gardens should be of plants that boast of good adherence to the horizontal extent of soil particle arrangement.

However, a common practice with concrete technology has created hard impermeable surfaces when used for pavements in landscaping. Best practice advocates for the use of porous materials that will allow water to sink to the ground to recharge the underground water reservoirs and enhance the efficiency of the hydrological cycle. The principal aim here is to replicate the natural processes of the ecosystem to best serve the humankind.

So, what practice merits the “green” label?

Design and construction practices that have positive impacts on construction costs, operating costs, workplace productivity and health and the asset value is a guide to the best practice because environmental and climatic changes in the globe demand for man to be socially responsible for the environment. Likewise, these dynamics are pushing the practice of landscape architecture to the top bar; requiring professionals to respond with the best solution which is sustainability.

Therefore, teaching, training and practice of the built environment professionals should be informed that the green label is only merited by sustainable environmental design practices.