What is the importance of landscaping? An apparently simple question, but with an answer that may surprise you. Landscaping is the tool with the greatest potential for transforming our cities and, consequently, also the way contemporary society relates to nature.
Landscaping brings solutions to problems of water scarcity, floods, and flooding in cities. Revegetation, especially afforestation, of previously impermeable areas allows rainwater to infiltrate the soil, reloading the water table, which emerges through springs, which gradually release water to feed rivers. Rivers, in turn, are the places where cities usually draw water for their supply.
When this natural recharge process is interrupted, a large volume of water accumulates on the streets, causing flooding. These waters are collected by wolf mouths, taken to rainwater galleries, and subsequently thrown into bodies of water. This huge volume of water is poured into the rivers at once, which often overflow and cause destruction due to the ferocity that the currents acquire.
As a result, these waters are taken, instead of being retained and carrying together a large load of waste, heavy metals, and a series of other contaminants washed from the streets into the rivers, where we cannot forget, we draw the water that supplies the water.
Green infrastructures such as wetlands, infiltration ponds, rain gardens, valleys, rain beds, green roofs, multifunctional complexes (which integrate leisure and social spaces) for temporary water retention, among others, enable collection and/or recovery and treatment of waters. Plants are natural filters for pollutants, removing contaminants from the air, soil, and water.
Landscaping, properly designed, brings stability to slopes, reducing the need for works and preventing landslides, events that bring risks related to civil defense.
In terms of public health, the contribution of landscaping is immense. In addition to reducing pollution already mentioned, which contributes to the development and aggravation of various diseases, plants constantly pump water from the soil into the atmosphere, maintaining the humidity of the air, and has an important role in generating rainfall controlling temperatures/climate.
Temperatures and humidity are factors that significantly affect respiratory, cardiovascular, infectious, and parasitic diseases, allergies, among others.
In the matter of public safety, it is also possible to prevent it through landscape treatment. Many surveys carried out in several countries have found that green areas can be powerful allies in combating crime in cities, as vegetation has a calming and mentally stimulating effect on people, which inhibits psychological precursors to violent acts or that could lead to criminal practice.
Researchers from the United States Forest Service conducted studies and found that crimes decrease considerably as the city’s critical zones are forested.
A similar result has been occurring in Ohio since 2010 when local authorities began a project to convert abandoned land and areas into green spaces. Since then, the crime rate has plummeted.
According to research by the University of Washington, urban neighborhoods with more green spaces have lower levels of crime and interpersonal violence.
The study shows that residents of housing estates with trees and natural landscapes nearby reported 25 percent fewer acts of domestic violence and aggression and about 50 percent fewer total crimes than other buildings with scarce green space.
It is clear that these green areas’ quality also counts a lot because, in some situations, densely vegetated areas in public spaces can be favorable places for crimes. Still, this problem is much more related to the way these places are designed or often the lack of design landscape and adequate lighting or even the lack of maintenance of these spaces.
In general, public green areas, well designed and well maintained, encourage social interaction and the community’s supervision by the community, making them safer and more attractive.
The research carried out by Prof. Frances Kuo, from the University of Illinois, who conducted a review of several studies on the effects of plants and landscaping on parks and public areas, found that wooded areas increase people’s life expectancy and happiness index, which have happier relationships and better performance when they live in greener neighborhoods.
It is believed that living close to clean and well-maintained spaces is essential for the improvement of the physical, psychological and social well-being, creating a more civilized atmosphere, encouraging a positive chain reaction.
This same study points out that people with less access to nature show relatively deficient attention, low cognitive function, poor management of issues related to daily events, and poor impulse control.
All these benefits that landscaping brings are further enhanced when considering species of regional native plants. In the current scenario of environmental degradation, this practice is an essential measure in combating the loss of biodiversity and species extinction, considering that cities today occupy significant portions of the national territory, where the original vegetation cover was mostly destroyed.
Construction and Transformation
Through landscaping, it is possible to recover ecosystems, provide life support and conditions for the perpetuation of species, and promote natural biological control of species in imbalance.
This look at the construction of the landscape can sensitize people and transform how they relate to nature. People who grow up and live in contact with the natural environment create affective bonds with their elements. Only when there is affection, there is care and protection. Today we experience detachment, which generates fear, aversion, and fragmentation.
Even on a small scale, Landscaping, such as residential and interior design, also matters, as it presents proportionately the same benefits. A city is made up of a set of units; the sum of small units’ positive impacts is a large set.
Transforming houses, we transform people, transform neighborhoods, transform cities, transform the industry, agriculture, public policies, and transform a country. Having clean air, clean water, well-being, harmonious coexistence, and quality of life is possible; on this day of the landscaper, I leave this great responsibility reflection.