Sustainable Landscape Program

A sustainable landscape is a version of organic gardening of the '70s and '80s and designed to fit in with any neighborhood. Sustainable gardening is a low input, low output way of managing a landscape. Inputs are water, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, energy consumed, maintenance, and materials that are brought in. Outputs include water runoff which carries pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides. Those same products can also pollute ground water as they leach through the soil. Outputs are also pollution in the form of noise and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Some believe that only natives should be used in a sustainable landscape others believe that a mix of natives and non-natives, often called ornamentals, are acceptable. The Art and Beautification Advisory Board has discussed this issue and believe that natives and non-natives can be used as long as non-natives are not invasive varieties and can thrive in the same conditions as the natives. We have also agreed that small areas of turf are acceptable if organic fertilizers are used and steps have been taken to improve the quality of the soil.
Sustainable landscapes:
  • Require less maintenance by using the right plant in the right place. Natives are the best choices.
  • Reduce environmental harm by using the correct plants, integrated pest management, careful fertilizer management and minimal power equipment (electric power is preferable to gas).
  • Benefit wildlife by increasing biodiversity and when done with natives a wider variety of wildlife will be attracted.
  • Provide seasonal interest in the same way conventional landscaping does, by a variety of plant material although with a more “natural” appearance.
Negative Impacts of Traditional Landscape Practices
  • A gas lawn mower emits the same amount of VOCs in one hour as driving 20 miles in a car.
  • Water pollution by pesticides. Homeowners use 10 times more pesticides per acre than farmers. In a year, homeowners apply 67 million pounds on lawns and 2/3 of users dispose of their excess in the trash with the remainder going down drains.
  • Water pollution by fertilizers since 40 to 60 percent of the nitrogen in the fertilizer goes into surface and groundwater.
  • Flood damage and erosion which also results in aquatic habitat destruction. Lawns are only able to absorb 1/10th the rainfall of a forest and the shallow root system is not able to stabilize stream banks.
  • Harm to biodiversity by pesticides which kill beneficial species and poison birds. Less than 1 percent of plant and animal species are considered pests.
  • Ornamental plants can become invasive. Some of those include Norway Maple, Kudzu, Purple Loosestrife, Bradford Pear, Butterfly Bush and Japanese Barberry.
  • Consumption of natural resources. Lawns use 30 to 60 percent of water used. Mowers use 580 million gallons of gas each year.
  • Danger to health and safety. Poisoning by improperly stored/used pesticides affects 110,000 in the U.S. yearly. Mower accidents send 75,000 people to the Emergency Room each year.
Certifying Your Landscape 
The City of Mill Creek's Art and Beautification Board strives to enhance the aesthetics of the area while promoting healthier more environmentally friendly landscape practices. This is being done through the Sustainable Landscape Certification program. If you are interested in having your landscape certified please fill out the following application and submit it to:

City of Mill Creek
Attention: Art and Beautification Board
15728 Main Street
Mill Creek, WA 98012

Sustainable Landscape Application
Sustainable Landscape Plants
Sustainable Landscape Brochure