Choosing and using materials
The choice and use of materials is important at both the design and the construction stages of a landscaping project. The right choice can reduce environ-mental impact, blend into the environment, minimise waste and reduce costs.
Step 1: Design – choosing materials
Blend into the environment
The correct choice of materials will help the project blend into its context and be sympathetic to its environment.
- For example, if you're close to bushland or land that hasn't been highly developed, indigenous plant materials will fit into the environment and reduce the need to modify the site.
Plants may also be selected to complement an existing street tree theme.
- Hard materials and paving can also be selected from materials and colours appropriate to the local area.
Minimise environmental impact
The choice of materials for a landscape project can be important in minimising environmental impact.
Some products may come at an environmental cost due to the way they are manufactured or harvested, and others may cause environmental damage during installation or ongoing maintenance.
- Give preference to materials which have minimal industrial processing in their production or which are not collected from natural environments.
- When choosing materials to be placed on the ground (e.g. on paths or garden beds) ensure that the materials will not be washed away during rain.
- Ensure that you do not import contaminated soil onto the site–check the origin of the soil from the supplier.
- Use porous paving such as loose laid bricks or gravel so that water is absorbed into the ground rather than running off. This will provide more water for plants, reduce watering requirements and reduce the amount of water running off the site, possibly causing pollution.
- Imported mulch or compost products may contain weed seeds. Only use products that are certified to Australian Standards.
- Choose trees and shrubs which will produce less green waste during the life of the project.
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- To minimise offcuts and wastage, the dimensions and shapes of elements in the design should reflect the qualities of the materials used. For example, it would not be sensible to construct a circular patio from timber decking.
- Offcuts can be minimised by sizing design elements according to the lengths, widths, heights or volumes that materials come supplied in.
Recycle and reuse
Specify recycled materials where possible or reuse materials on site where practicable. Topsoil, bricks and timber can often be reused. This will reduce overall costs and wastage.
- Use good quality materials, which comply with Australian standards.
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Step 2: Construction – using and storing materials
- Don't over-order materials unless you are guaranteed they can be returned to the supplier.
- Materials should be delivered and stored within sediment fences.
- Organise delivery timing so you avoid excessively long storage times on site and minimise opportunity for deterioration.
- Keep storage areas to a minimum.
- Don't locate storage areas on drainage lines.
- Locate all stockpiles a minimum of 2 metres (preferably 5 metres) from vulnerable areas such as drains.
- Follow supplier's recommendations for storage. Make sure materials have been stored properly before you use them.
- Enclose storage/stockpile areas as appropriate e.g. with sediment fences or tarpaulins.
- Keep the height of stockpiles under 2 metres.
- Keep storage areas clean and check each day for spills or leaks etc
Page last updated: 27 February 2011