For me, sustainable gardening means planting plants that will do well in their location with minimal care, in order to have a positive environmental impact. This means:
- planting drought-tolerant plants, or at least placing moisture-lovers in wet, shadey locations where they won't need excessive watering,
- mulching to keep weeds down and to minimize water evaporation,
- grouping plants with similar sun, soil and water requirements together,
- not planting invasive species,
- minimizing water- and fertilizer-guzzling lawns,
- using compost and other organic sources to feed the soil, and
- not using synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides.
You could also interpret "sustainable" to mean not requiring too much work from the gardener!! Planting plants where they will naturally flourish will achieve this.
This is what a low-maintenance garden could look like in Calgary. This garden was in the fall of its first season, so it will look more full and lush in future years. Look for more posts under "Monthly tasks & tips" for more ideas, and comments on plants featured in the "Plant calendar" category to help you choose plants that are right for your site.