224 MAY/JUNE 2019 | BETHESDAMAGAZINE.COM
WHEN SKYE RAISER MOVED from Chevy Chase’s Kenwood neighborhood to Spring Valley in Northwest Washington, D.C., in 2017, her blueberry, raspberry and blackberry plants made the trip
across the border with her family of five.
Also uprooted for the move were her
goumi bushes, berry-producing plants
native to this area that were an integral
part of the sustainable garden she hoped
to re-create outside her new home.
Over the past 10 years, sustainable
gardening practices have become
increasingly popular with local gardeners
like Raiser. In fact, landscape architect
and designer Basem Saah estimates that
almost half of his clients at American
Plant, a garden center in Bethesda, request
that sustainability be incorporated into
the design of their gardens. “Sustainability
isn’t one thing; it’s a mindset,” Saah says.
“It’s part of the movement toward reusing
and not taking resources. People want
to feel that they are contributing by not
depleting the earth.”
Saah says creating a truly sustainable
garden often involves the use of primarily
organic soil and fertilizer, and the
replacement of grass lawns, which require
lots of water and pesticides to maintain,
with drought-resistant succulents,
ornamental grasses and rock gardens.
Sustainability also means incorporating
resource-friendly techniques such as the
use of rain barrels, which collect water
for gardening, and planting native species
that require fewer natural resources to
thrive in the mid-Atlantic region, such
as dogwood, redbud, Queen Anne’s lace
“It’s an economic way of living,” Saah
explains. He says sustainable gardening is
especially popular with environmentally
minded millennials and young couples
who appreciate the cost savings in terms
of time, money and natural resources.
“You are using products that require
fewer resources. It’s cheaper to grow food
than buy it. Also, sustainable gardens are
lower maintenance,” he says.
Another perk of sustainable gardening
practices is establishing a closer relation-
ship with food, says Natalie Carver, the
director of horticulture at Love & Car-
rots. ;e D.C-based gardening firm has
installed more than 700 gardens in the
area, including more than 50 at Mont-
gomery County homes and the one at
Raiser’s Spring Valley residence. “In this
consumer culture, people want to recon-
nect with their roots,” she says.
ONCE RAISER AND HER husband,
David Perlin, their children, and three
dogs were settled into their new home,
she wanted to put down roots outside.
With Love & Carrots’ assistance, Raiser
set about turning the home’s traditional
flower garden into a fruit- and vegetable-producing powerhouse capable of
feeding her three kids, ages 7, 10 and 13.
;e first step in the exterior makeover
was replacing the nonnative bushes and
flowers with three raised garden beds
supported by wood frames. Strategically PH