by Thomas J. Akin

I originally wrote this article for an ELA newsletter a little over 10 years ago; today I would call the article, “Is Your Soil Healthy?”  Let’s see how much I got right and how much the science has improved since then. Indented text shows my amendments to the original article that appeared in ELA’s print newsletter, The Ecological Landscaper, in 2004. Continue reading

by Dr. Elham A. Ghabbour and Dr. Geoffrey Davies

Natural landscaping depends to a large extent on healthy soil. In this context ‘healthy’ means that the soil is carbon- and nutrient-rich and that it retains water but drains well. It’s important to know that soil carbon consists of two main pools, one of which is accessible to microbes as food (labile) and the other that is much less accessible and is sequestered (stabilized). This sequestered carbon in the form of humic substances (HS) confers long-term stability to a soil, ensuring that landscapers’ efforts will last well into the future without major intervention. Getting a soil carbon analysis helps with assessment of the soil’s readiness for natural landscaping. Continue reading

This article first appeared in Yale Environment 360

by Judith D. Schwartz

In the 19th century, as land-hungry pioneers steered their wagon trains westward across the United States, they encountered a vast landscape of towering grasses that nurtured deep, fertile soils. Today, just three percent of North America’s tallgrass prairie remains. Its disappearance has had a dramatic impact on the landscape and ecology of the U.S., but a key consequence of that transformation has largely been overlooked: a massive loss of soil carbon into the atmosphere. The importance of soil carbon — how it is leached from the earth and how that process can be reversed — is the subject of intensifying scientific investigation, with important implications for the effort to slow the rapid rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Continue reading

by Toby Wolf and Nyssa Gyorgy

The systems that promote and support ecological landscape practices have just taken another stride forward. The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) has released the SITES v2 Rating System, which is the most comprehensive rating system for developing sustainable landscapes. As the LEED program does for buildings, SITES provides guidelines and standards for every stage of a project, from site selection through operation. Continue reading

by Annie Martin aka Mossin’ Annie

Moss landscapes offer a magical appeal with verdant expanses that seem to encapsulate our spirits with a sense of serenity. Yet, the environmental advantages of eco-friendly mosses add another element of magic through the creation of outdoor living spaces that complement natural ecosystems. As Planet Earth’s oldest living land plants (450 million years old), bryophytes – mosses and their cousins, liverworts and hornworts – are native to all parts of the world. Continue reading

by Marilyn Wyzga

With watering can in hand, a first grader earnestly speed-walks across the grass, finds a pepper plant in need of a drink, and slowly drains her can around its base. She scoots back and tags her teammate in the waiting line; he quickly scuttles off to the basket of mulch, scoops a two-handed fistful, and tucks it around the base of a young tomato plant. Joyful cheers from their classmates urge them on. The “Garden Relay” ends with the harvester carrying back a single spinach leaf in her basket, and each team member gets a taste. Continue reading

by Thomas Benjamin

The evolution of Kent Hospital’s Sustainable Campus Landscape Initiative was both capital project and Master Plan driven. In the early 2000s, Kent, located in Warwick, RI, embarked on planning major upgrades to the Emergency Department and Emergency Room, including a 1,393 square meters +/- (15,000 square-foot) Women’s Imaging Center addition, substantial new parking, driveways and street frontage retaining walls. The campus’s new 4,645 square meter +/- (50,000 square foot), five-story Trowbridge Data Center was also being planned at the time. In seeking stormwater permits from the state, Kent learned that it was approaching its runoff discharge limits and additional impervious surfaces would produce runoff volumes far in excess of those limits. Continue reading

by Frank Carini

This article in EcoRI News and is reprinted here with permission.

By the end of this century, scientists predict southern New England’s seas will rise some three feet, and without major cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, they say summers here will soon resemble Georgia’s dog days.

Like the rest of the planet, southern New England’s climate is changing, and not all of the changes are as noticeable as, say, three straight days of rain that dump a foot or so of water (2010), an October snowstorm (2011), or a superstorm that hangs around for a few days (Sandy, 2012). Continue reading

by Paul Sachs

Both milky spore disease and beneficial nematodes help control grubs in lawn and garden. Depending on the species of grub, you may want to use both.

Scarab grubs, the broad group of white grubs that feed on grass roots, are difficult to differentiate. The only sure way to identify one positively is to look at the raster pattern on its rear end. Continue reading