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How to choose sustainable materials for your outdoor space

Your outdoor space has the potential to be your family’s own private oasis. When it comes to updating it, consider how eco-friendly materials can play a part in making your home more sustainable.

If you’re looking for materials to refresh your outdoor space, there are plenty of smart, sustainable options that will reduce your environmental impact, keep your green spaces greener, and make your home more beautiful to boot. Let’s take a look.

Sustainable, water-wise lawns

Almost 40%native grass of Aussie household water is used outdoors, and your lawn can require lots of water to keep it looking lush. You don’t need to pass on grass entirely – but replacing exotic grass with low-maintenance is a smart way to reduce the amount of watering required and keep your garden green. You can also consider using gravel or stone to build up your outdoor landscape. As a bonus, you’ll spend less time with the mower and watering can in hand, and save on water bills while you’re at it. 

Retaining walls 
Retaining walls can cleverly stop flooding and erosion, and can even create beautiful spaces to sit in your garden. But before you construct your retaining wall, consider using some of these sustainable materials to build it.

  • Bamboo is a great eco-friendly material – it’s extremely fast-growing and doesn’t require pesticides or fertilisers to replenish. 
  • Natural stone has incredible longevity, is low maintenance, and no hazardous chemicals are used to produce it.
  • Sustainably-resourced timber is beautiful and an affordable option. Search Responsible Wood’s database for certified, ethically-sourced timber suppliers

Recycled pavers
Whether you’d like to update your driveway or patio with stone, clay or concrete, you can always choose recycled pavers to ensure your outdoor space looks appealing and does well for the planet. Clay and stone are made from natural materials, so they're a great choice. Stone is also extremely durable and long lasting, so if you choose this to build your paving, it will be, well, set in stone. 

Sustainable furniture  
When you’re looking for outdoor furniture, try to choose pieces made from sustainable materials like bamboo, steel or aluminum. You can also consider sourcing your furniture from local suppliers – saving the CO2 emissions that come from importing goods. To make sure your furniture stands the test of time, look for furniture that is well-built and well designed. For example, consider if the piece has added storage functionality and is designed to suit your family’s needs. Plus consider buying furniture with quality fittings – this is particularly important if your home is near open water, as salt in the air can erode some materials. You can also scour online marketplaces for second hand outdoor furniture to use as is, or (if you’re a fan of DIY) upcycle into something new. 

LED lighting
The right lighting can do wonders for your home’s warmth and mood, but traditional halogen outdoor lighting is bad news from an eco-perspective. Instead, consider LED lighting, the most energy-efficient and cost-effective lighting. LEDs will also save you more money on your energy bills in the long run – a win for your hip pocket too.

Bonus tip
Whether you’re after gravel for your garden, sustainable retaining wall materials or eco-friendly pavers, our top tip is to source recycled materials from local suppliers, wherever possible. Not only will you be doing your bit for the planet, but these pieces could be significantly cheaper too. 

The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs and, where appropriate, seek professional advice.