Conservation Landscaping is the practice of modifying the visible features of turf grass areas or bare soils, to an area of land that incorporates environmentally sensitive design, low impact development, non-invasive native plants, and/or integrated pest management. The purpose is to create a diverse landscape that helps to protect clean air and water and support wildlife. Converting landscape into highly functioning ecosystems can have significant beneficial impacts on local water quality and that of the Chesapeake Bay.
While both conservation landscaping and rain gardens incorporate similar elements of gardening to promote cleaner air and water, rain gardens are more focused on water drainage while conservation landscaping typically focuses more on visual and wildlife elements.
Native plants are generally best adapted to local soil and climate conditions and therefore require the least amount of nutrient addition or cultivation in order to maintain the amount of ground cover best suited to minimize runoff. In contrast, turf grasses and non-native species generally require both continual maintenance and periodic fertilization in order to provide the same amount of stormwater runoff protection. Therefore, the conversion to of native plants will generally be beneficial from a nonpoint source runoff pollution prevention stand point.