Why sustainable landscapes?

When we create climate resilient, sustainable landscapes, the landscapes give back, providing natural benefits that are essential to daily life, like cleaning the air and water, and maintaining soil fertility. Generally speaking, we have underestimated or even ignored their value when making decisions that affect the land, but they are the key to creating home gardens that meet our needs without compromising the ability of our kids and grandkids to meet theirs. Among the many natural benefits of sustainable landscapes are:

Cleaner air and water: Plants, through photosynthesis, provide us with the oxygen we breathe. Plants and organisms in the soil remove and break down pollutones, including those that trigger asthma and other illnesses.

Cooler towns and cities: Trees and other plants provide cooling shade and via the carbon cycle remove carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere.

Food, medicine, wood and other products: Plants transform carbon dioxide into food, life-saving medicines, wood, and countless other products.

Wildlife habitat and biological diversity: Plants fuel the dazzling diversity of life on this planet, from the blue whale, which can weigh 150 tons, to the Cuban bee hummingbird, which weighs one-seventeenth of an ounce.

Pollination: Bees, birds, bats, and other animals pollinate crops.

Natural water storage and flood control: Stormwater is absorbed by plants or slowly trickles through the soil and into underground reservoirs called aquifers, preserving the land’s natural water cycle or hydrology.

Waste decomposition and soil fertility: The nitrogen cycle transforms wastes into the nutrients necessary for sustaining life.

Erosion and sediment control: Vegetation helps maintain soil structure and fertility and prevents erosion and pollution.

Human health and well-being: Our connection to nature sustains us physically and mentally.

What is Landscape For Life?

Landscape For Life™ is based on the principles of the Sustainable Sites Initiative™ program (SITES®), the nation’s first rating system for sustainable landscapes. SITES® was developed as an interdisciplinary effort led by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin, the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the United States Botanic Garden in conjunction with a diverse group of stakeholder organizations. The program is now managed by Colorado State University Extension.

Landscape For Life is a collaboration between:

United States Botanic Garden & Colorado State University Extension

I want to establish a sustainable landscape at home. How do I get started?

Explore the ‘Get Started’ section of the website. These pages have been created to help you discover sustainable landscape techniques and implement them on your own property. Ready for more? Join our contact list to be alerted to learning opportunities!

I want to be a teacher. How do I learn more?

We are in the process of updating our learning and teaching resources. The best way to stay informed is to join our contact list for CSU to stay in touch with you. 

How can I start learning now?

We encourage digging into the website for Landscape For Life knowledge! All of the course materials are available on the Course Materials page, and can be viewed by anyone. Additional learning opportunities will be coming in 2023!

What do I do with all this information once I learn it?
Become a teacher in your area to help others learn how to create sustainable landscapes. And, of course, begin creating and maintaining sustainable landscapes on your own property!

Landscape For Life™ was developed by United States Botanic Garden and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, based on the principles of the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES®). The program is now a collaboration between Colorado State University Extension and the United States Botanic Garden.

Colorado State University Extension