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2022 Conference – Focus on Practice – Thursday, February 24

Presentation Descriptions

9:00-10:00am EST

Grasses, Sedges, and Rushes
Ted Elliman, Instructor/Author

This presentation will cover 30 to 40 species of native northeastern grasses, sedges, and rushes in their natural habitats, with a focus on their identification features, specific habitat conditions, commonly associated plants, and their aesthetic appeal. These three groups of plants, often overlooked because of a perceived similarity of form and challenges to identification, are an essential and remarkably varied component of our natural landscapes.

10:15-11:15am EST

Arborists Are from Mars; Garden Designers Are from Venus
Chris Roddick, Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

Working around trees in a landscape is a delicate and careful business that is often overlooked, much to the detriment of the trees over time. It can be hard to spot what gardening practices cause trees harm, as it might be a decade before one unfortunate trench kills a tree. Chris Roddick will explore how Arborist and Garden Designers can work together when designing, developing, and managing gardens and lawns around trees. This presentation will cover cultivating working relationships among professionals, improving designs around both new and existing trees, and best practices for irrigation and everyday maintenance. We’ll look at fertilization, watering, planting, trenching, and grade changes and consider both minimizing impact from the very beginning and explore the landscape and tree’s development over time. We can use the latest research in tree and root biology to find better and safer ways to have beautiful gardens and healthy trees. Gardeners, Garden Designers and Landscape Architects will all benefit from this important discussion.

12:45-1:45pm EST

Not in My Front Yard:
Social-Aesthetic Barriers to Green Infrastructure in the Public Realm
Kate Cholakis, Penn State University and Eliza Pennypacker, Penn State University

Landscape designers nationwide believe in the many benefits of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI); but, for this strategy to succeed, the public must want these installations in their yards, parks, schools, and neighborhood streets. This session presents a study of public reactions to the appearance of GSI, focusing on rain garden installation within the municipal streetscape – technically a “public” space, but perceived by homeowners as part of their front yards. Public resistance to streetscape rain gardens can be found across the U.S. Some residents regard these rain gardens as “ugly pits,” while others think they “look great.” A community’s appreciation for rain gardens is critical to their cultural sustainability: negative reactions can stall and prevent implementation. The study interviews designers and municipal program managers of green streets projects in Kansas City, Missouri, and Montgomery County, Maryland, and builds upon existing research and theory transecting the fields of landscape architecture and environmental behavior. Data analysis reveals the drivers of public concern regarding appearance and potential design and participatory strategies. 

2:00-3:00pm EST

The Science Behind Yard Management to Increase Plant, Insect, and Bird Biodiversity
Dr. Christopher Neill, Woodwell Climate Research Center

An expanding number of ecological field studies of American residential yards show that characteristics such as tree cover and proportions of native compared with non-native plants create urban food webs that support higher numbers and diversity of insects and birds. Dr. Neill will present results from a national research project that studies the effects of yard management across six US cities, including Boston. This project measures how microclimates, soils, and communities of plants, insects, and birds vary under intensive (“lawn-centric”), passive, or wildlife-friendly yard management across all the cities. The presentation will discuss how this new science can be translated into biodiversity-promoting practices by homeowners in individual yards. 

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