Living in Harmony With Nature – The Principles of Natural Landscaping and Sustainable Design

Living in harmony with nature is a complex and challenging goal. It requires adopting sustainable and regenerative practices that support local ecosystems and biodiversity.

It also involves learning to conserve water, for example, by planting drought-tolerant plants and using mulch to reduce evaporation. It means maximizing energy efficiency and making the most of renewable power sources.


One of the fundamental principles of designing a natural landscape is to incorporate plants that can adapt to their surroundings. The ability of plants to adjust to their environment is an essential aspect that can help create a thriving and sustainable ecosystem. Choosing native plant species adapted to local climate, soil, and water conditions helps minimize maintenance and pest problems.

This approach also helps to conserve resources by reducing the use of pesticides, herbicides, and fossil fuels burned while mowing large areas of turf grass and imported exotic species that have aggressively naturalized in the wild. Native plants are often more resilient to environmental stresses, providing food and shelter for wildlife.

Design principles of proportion, order, repetition, and unity create a harmonious composition that is visually pleasing. Proportion is achieved by establishing balance in the scale and form of individual elements and features and using dominant, secondary, and tertiary lines to guide the eye through the landscape. The principles also apply to color, texture, and shape.

Water Conservation

Natural landscaping transforms residential landscapes by replacing lawns with self-sustaining, native plant communities. It creates critical wildlife habitat and provides numerous environmental benefits.

Landscapes that mimic natural ecosystems require less maintenance than landscapes with purely ornamental plants. Using local, native plant species means lower water and fertilizer costs. It also eliminates the need to burn toxic chemicals and fossil fuels while mowing large turf grass areas.

Landscapes designed using the principles of proportion, order, and repetition create a sense of harmony that makes people physically and psychologically comfortable. They are easier to maintain because they have predictable patterns and a more coherent style. In addition, native landscape plants are better adapted to the soil and climate conditions and other dry regions to be used with less water.


Sustainability is no longer just a “nice to have” aspect. It is an integral part of the landscape design process that must be incorporated at every level, from conception to completion.

It includes reducing energy consumption, choosing recycled or renewable materials that are easily sourced and can be reused, and designing buildings with smaller footprints. Sustainable design also emphasizes water conservation and the preservation of existing vegetation.

Incorporating sustainable design reduces building costs and embodied energy and promotes occupant health and productivity by improving indoor environmental quality (IEQ). Using native landscaping conserves resources, minimizes maintenance and chemical use, and requires less fertilizer and pesticide than non-native plants. It also minimizes waste from planting, construction, and disposal. Choosing a greener material for building construction reduces a structure’s embodied carbon footprint and is easier to recycle or reuse in the future.


Biodiversity is the collection of species and the amount of variation within them. It provides a foundation for the broader concept of ecosystems, which are complex combinations of plants, animals, and other living things.

The practical value of biodiversity includes foods, materials for shelter, and life-saving medicines. It also provides buffers against damaging floods and helps to clean water.

Biological diversity differs between areas, with some having fewer but unique species. For example, species on remote oceanic islands often have small ranges and are called endemic.

Some biodiversity framings ignore a current benefit and normativity of biodiversity-as-variety, including the options values of variety. These new framings are based on an anthropocentric accounting of biotic diversity linked to economic and insurance values.

Energy Efficiency

Landscape principles such as proportion, order, repetition, and unity are essential for creating a harmonious composition. People feel more comfortable physically and psychologically in a landscape with these elements. A landscape can be unified through dominance, contrast, interconnection, and simplicity to arrange plants, hardscapes, and garden ornaments.

Plants are practical, energy-efficient landscaping features that provide cooling summer shade, insulation against winter heat loss, and natural storm barriers. They can also offer food security through fruit production and serve as windbreaks to protect buildings from blustery winds in the winter. These energy-efficiency landscapes can reduce the stress on power grids in times of crisis or disaster.