Top navigation

Designing Ecological Landscapes

Landscapes that mimic natural systems deliver important ecosystem services and are also aesthetically pleasing. Guided by principles that reduce resource consumption, ecologically designed landscapes provide natural solutions when land is disturbed by the construction of buildings or roadways, and they support landscaped communities from tiny rooftops to grand urban parks.

Glacial Lakes Rest Area: Roberts County   

The South Dakota Pollinator Project

By Paul Clinton

Over the past several years, one of my favorite landscape architecture projects has been developing and monitoring five pollinator plots at the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) rest areas in the eastern part of the state along Interstate 29. As a landscape architect, it is satisfying to witness the return of native prairie plant communities and be a part of diverse projects – and working in South Dakota has allowed me to do both. 

Continue Reading
Figure 2. An example of a Phoenix yard landscaped with palo verdes (Parkinsonia florida), mesquites (Prosopis spp), and other desert vegetation.

Backyard Habitats for the Birds and the Bees

By Susannah D. Lerman

The birds and the bees represent some of our most familiar wildlife. Unfortunately, with increased pressures from residential development, bird, bee and other wildlife habitat have disappeared, leading to severe population declines. Nonetheless, after the development phase, the novel habitat within the new landscape (both intentionally planted and remnant habitat) can support wildlife communities.


Continue Reading
Wild blue flax (Linum lewisii). Photo by Lisa Olsen

Demonstration Garden Beautifies Area Teaches Others About Native Plants

By Lisa Olsen

In an active Denver neighborhood, volunteers proposed the Greenverien Garden to improve the neighborhood’s livability. They saw an opportunity to beautify the area by transforming the asphalt-covered strip on a busy street corner into a low-maintenance landscape to be enjoyed by residents, pollinators and visitors alike. 


Continue Reading
Restored Wetland has lots of milkweed to feed the monarch butterflies.   

Native Habitat Restoration on an Old Wisconsin Farm

By Marcie O’Connor

Our adventure began in early 2000 when my husband and I bought 500 acres of an old farm in the Driftless Area of western Wisconsin. The Driftless Area is the part of the Midwest that was never covered by glaciers, so the land is beautiful – with steep hills and narrow valleys. I’m interested in native plants and natural landscapes, so I thought it would be fun to return the land to prairie and how it looked before it was farmed.

Continue Reading
Thanks to community investment and dedication, this blighted lot now serves as a vibrant linear park that instills a sense of identity and neighborhood pride   

Ridge Lane: The Butterfly Effect of an Urban Vacant Lot

By Nahal Sohbati

Located in the Ingleside neighborhood of San Francisco, Ridge Lane is a vacant public right of way owned by the city. Vacant lands can serve as a public space and can significantly contribute to social engagement. Community members often take charge of these vacant lots and activate them through community gardening, guerrilla gardening, and other artful representations. 

Continue Reading
Q&A Linda 

Q&A: How Data Helps Close The Park Equity Divide

Interview with Linda Hwang

Parks are essential for public health, climate resilience, and strong connected communities; however, 100 million people in the U.S.—including 28 million kids—don’t have a park within a 10-minute walk of home. We have the data to pinpoint where parks are needed the most. Linda Hwang, the Trust for Public Land’s director of research and innovation, talks about how data is helping to close the park equity divide.

Continue Reading
Albro fig4-4b 

Winning Community Support for Green Infrastructure

by Sandra Albro

In this adapted excerpt from Vacant to Vibrant: Creating Successful Green Infrastructure Networks (Island Press, 2019), author Sandra Albro shares lessons from a multidisciplinary project team that built nine green stormwater parks on small vacant lots in three post-industrial cities—Gary, Indiana; Cleveland, Ohio; and Buffalo, New York. The project, “Vacant to Vibrant,” replicated similar processes across three Great Lakes states with the goal of discerning site-specific considerations from more generalizable lessons.

Continue Reading

Finding Mother Earth

By Suzanne Simard

Working to solve the mysteries of what made the forests tick, and how they are linked to the earth and fire and water, made me a scientist. I watched the forest, and I listened. I followed where my curiosity led me, I listened to the stories of my family and people, and I learned from the scholars. I poured everything I had into becoming a sleuth of what it takes to heal the natural world. 

Continue Reading
meadow 1 

Creating Wildflower Meadows from Scratch  Or by Simply Changing Mowing Regimes

By Alina Harris

When someone asks for help to increase pollinators in their landscape, many times the initial request is to start a pollinator meadow from seed. We love successful wildflower meadows started from scratch—but they can take several years of work. In the right place, just reducing mowing can result in improved conditions for pollinators.

Continue Reading