Have you heard the term,“ The Living Landscape?” According to authors Rick Darke and Doug Tallamy, it means that no garden is an island. These two gardening experts encourage gardeners to create a sanctuary for bees, butterflies, birds and other living creatures.

As the world becomes more populated with people, there are less places for plants and animals to live. Any front or back yard can be a living landscape, a vital ecosystem that can sustain both humans and a diversity plants, insects and animals.

The authors live on the east coast, and have large, lush, green landscapes full of plant diversity. But even if you have a small patio in Los Angeles, you can create an oasis.

What is a Living Landscape?

The book explains that landscapes have layers. For example, if your landscape has a lawn and tall trees, it has two layers. But if you add smaller trees, shrubs, and perennial plants, your landscape becomes more deeply layered. Each layer adds niches or places where living creatures can dwell.

In nature, plants and animals/insects evolved together. This is why incorporating native plants into your garden is so important. Consider the relationship between the monarch butterfly and milkweed plant. Each species is dependent upon one another for survival.

How to Create a Living Landscape

To create your own living landscape, first determine what kind of ecosystem you want to create. Consider sun and shade as well as water needs. Find out which plants are native to your area and shop for them at local nurseries or garden centers. It’s not necessary to remove non-native plants, many are still great for water conservation and useful in the landscape.


One thing the book doesn’t mention is the insects and animals that may become pests in your landscape. For some people, wasps, gophers and deer may or may not be welcome creatures. If pest problems occur, utilize the University of California IPM (integrated pest management) website for help at for other states, contact your local area master gardeners for help.

Order the Book

The Living Landscape book is available from Timber Press. Or call your local library to see if they have a copy.

More Information

For helpful tips you may not have heard about on gardening naturally, please visit Eco Gardening.