By Ana Borruto
When David Turcios launched his own entrepreneurial venture — VS Roses Landscape & Design — in the Five Towns in 2012, one of his top priorities was to implement eco-friendly methods into this craft.
Having young children of his own, Turcios knows how important it is to have a safe, healthy outdoor environment for his family, which is why sustainable landscaping is so important to him.
He advocates for environmentally-conscious landscaping projects whenever he has a chance, and usually his clients are positively receptive to the idea.
“People love it when you try to help them and give them alternatives,” Turcios said. “It's better for the homeowner in the long run, especially if they have a family, dogs, and children.”
Here are six ways VS Roses Landscape and Design incorporates sustainability into their projects — and how you can do it yourself at home.
Native plants play a crucial role in maintaining a region’s biodiversity, according to the National Audubon Society. Not only can these native plants be beautiful and colorful, but they also help combat climate change, conserve water, establish healthier lawns for homeowners, and provide habitats for wildlife.
Unlike exotic plants, native ones require way less maintenance. Turcios strives to use native plants that are well-suited for the Long Island climate and soil conditions.
Want to find out which native plants are suitable for Long Island landscapes? Click here for an extensive list.
When VS Roses Landscape & Design conducts a consultation with a client, one thing Turcios makes sure to discuss is what correct kind of irrigation system he should implement.
There are typically four types of irrigation systems to choose from:
1) Surface irrigation - applies water to the soil’s surface and allows it to trickle down into the dirt and root systems, like a watering can or sprinkler attachment.
2) Drip irrigation - uses a series of pipes and tubing to move water directly to the bases of plants, cutting down on wasted water.
3) Sprinkler irrigation - a series of pipes and sprinkler heads that spray water in the air for the plants.
4) Blended systems - combine any of these irrigation systems, like sprinklers for the grass and a drip irrigation method for bushes and trees.
“Sometimes people just automatically go for a sprinkler system when they should really be using drip irrigation,” Turcios said. “Whoever is willing to, that is always the direction we want to take — just utilizing and using our water more efficiently instead of wasting it.”
VS Roses Landscape & Design always encourages sustainable methods such as composting and mulching. Turcios also tries to stay away from using chemical fertilizers, however, if the client requests it, he is able to recommend other alternatives.
“Anything that we use, we make sure it’s eco-friendly and that it doesn't harm the soil ecosystem,” Turcios said.
Compost and mulch use improves plant growth, reduces erosion, conserves water, increases plant rooting depth and provides consistent nutrients to the plants and soil.
Turcios also utilizes permeable surfaces like gravel and paver to allow rainwater to infiltrate the soil, instead of contributing to stormwater runoff.
David’s wife, Jennifer, contested the fact her husband is very careful when working around animals and their habitats — she’s experienced his courtesy firsthand.
“A lot of times he'll come home with little rabbits,” Jennifer said. “He really does take care of that himself.”
Before doing any kind of excavating or using machinery, Turcios always makes sure to scan the landscape for burrows, nests and any other animal shelters so he and his landscapers can proceed with caution.
Some ways homeowners can protect animal habitats in their yards is by using non-toxic lawn and garden care products, planting only native species of trees, shrubs and bushes, providing
natural food and water and incorporating self-made habitats, such as bird feeders and butterfly houses.
When doing a landscaping job, VS Roses incorporate a few techniques to help a homeowner save energy and reduce the cost of energy bills. This includes strategically planting trees to provide shade in the summer and prevent windbreaks in the winter.
What does this do? Strategic planting of trees, shrubs and wines can modify the climate around a person’s home. It can also reduce wind velocity near the home.
According to the experts, winter heating bills could potentially be reduced by up to 25 percent and summer cooling bills roughly 50 percent or more.
“We do tell customers the benefits and sometimes they may not understand it at first, but once they start seeing the difference, they are very appreciative,” Turcios said.
Turcios is a big believer in using recycled materials and creating less waste.
If someone is interested in implementing recycled materials into their gardening or landscaping, he always discloses if he has extra material from previous projects they could use.
“We try to recycle locally sourced materials as much as we possibly can,” Turcios said. “I'll always give them the option to reduce waste and costs.”