As I look around there is an ever increasing wealth of information on how to be more carbon neutral, sustainable and generally more responsible to the earth. There is a lot to sort through and not every idea is universally applicable.
Thinking about sites that have specific uses and unique challenges I thought I would propose a list of landscape suggestions that can help hotels, restaurants, resorts and other mixed use hospitality properties think about changes they can make in their landscapes to better serve the environment and the bottom line.
1) In Plantings, Consider scale.
When planning street displays, entry displays, and other garden areas of the property, consider not only who is going to see this but more importantly how they are going to see it.
Are they going to be driving by at 65 mph, 20 mph, or 2 mph… walking to get somewhere, strolling or lingering?
Is the guest 100 ft away, 50 ft away, 10ft away, 1 ft away or within inches?
It is important to consider this, as a plan to intricately plant an area to be viewed from the freeway with a palette of 25 different plants mingling together will likely be completely wasted and will probably look messy.
Contrast this with a planting that is boldly sectioned and a smaller number of plants with groupings that are large enough to read from this speed and distance and you have created an opportunity for savings and water retention.
When mixing plants intricately you have to accommodate the neediest and irrigation systems will have to be designed to give more than is needed to those that don’t need it, but if beds can be sectioned to an appropriate scale, then water can be more effectively dispersed and saved.
2) Make a vegetable garden
The National Restaurant Association lists ‘local foods’ as it second hottest trend (behind bite sized desserts??).
Eateries who can market a locally and/or organically grown menu appeal to the increasingly educated clientele who wants their food to have a pedigree. ‘Locally grown’ is by nature fresher, healthier, better tasting and is good for the local economy. It is an attractive message to luxury and boutique hotel clientele.
Almost any rooftop, balcony, back corner or front corner can be made productive and with a great design team. And a kitchen garden doesn’t have to be hidden utility. Consider the great potager’s of French royalty.
I love this picture and am working to have my own kitchen garden to look like this....
3) Capture Rain and Grey Water
Rain capture systems can be screened or completely hidden. With underground tanks, roof water and grey water can be held for use in irrigation. Fountains and water features can use this water too.
As the cost of water and water shedding climbs, make the most of what comes to your property naturally. And for that which you pay, make it do double duty.
4) Use Drip Irrigation EVEN IN YOUR LAWN AREAS
New Technology has made drip irrigation for lawns the wave of the future. Because water delivery is below the soil surface, no water is lost from evaporation, runoff, or overshooting lawn boundaries, making the primary benefit water savings.
But lack of overshooting also helps eliminate rotting and water stains on fences and walls, and prevents slippery walkways. It is also a benefit because of the lack of surface wetting.
Because the lawn's surface is never soaked, it can always be used for activities, and the incidence of disease - and need for toxic fungicides - is also greatly reduced when grass stays dry.
5) Reconsider 'Annual' displays
They are expensive, they are labor intensive, they are wasteful and all too often they are just plain kitschy – and not in a good way.
Phase in some perennials and have your plant care company learn how to take care of them (and I mean fine gardening here, not your average mow and blow service). I know this is a tall order but the average perennial cost the same to install, and perhaps only 2 -3 times more than the same sized annual, which means that if you are making seasonal annual displays, you will start seeing a return on your investment in the first year. Go on re-design it!
Check out this stunning mix of annuals and perennials at the Montreal Botanic Garden.
Estimates say that between 55% and 75% of restaurant waste is compostable. On site composting maybe an option a landscape design team can incorporate into your property but if your facility doesn’t have this option, consider giving it to a local grower or community garden.
Separating out the waste is just the first step and but finding a home for it is becoming easier and easier, see if you can find local businesses that need organic waste to make a mutually beneficial solution.
Alternatively, an on site composting facility can be managed and designed to reduce the feared smell and provide for beautiful landscape improvements.
I love this compost bin. While individually probably not on a restaurant scale, this would be an easy addition to a landscape.