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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.


Conservation Pruning Concepts

By Norman Helie

The next time you stroll through your favorite tree-lined street, park, or woods, consider yourself a part of the tree canopy. As a natural interpreter and contributor, you meditate on your surroundings. Trees need our help!  Consider trees as large extensions of the organic layer under your feet, which puts you right inside their strategic world.


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Mill Pond with Town Hall and the Library in the background. Courtesy of James Shiang, Shiang Studios

The Challenges and Opportunities for Riverbank Restoration

By Reed Pugh and Miles Connors

Winchester, Massachusetts, is situated on the banks of a tranquil, winding river.  Like many waterways in New England, the Aberjona River has become home to many non-native and invasive plants that have largely overwhelmed our native plant palette. The Aberjona Initiative, a working group of the Conservation Commission, is tasked with restoring the river and pond banks in town center. 

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Landscape Brings Beauty and Dignity to Low-Income Housing

By Shanti Nagel and Meral Marino

Suppose you pop your head into the courtyard on 53rd street, a lush interior garden shared by 86 affordable housing units in Midtown Manhattan. In that case, you are likely to find Ursula parked in her wheelchair amidst the flowers and sunshine. When asked why this garden is so important to her, Ursula said, “It is a magic place!”

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Smelling+roses (1) 

Gardens Are Ephemeral and Transitional

By Todd Haiman

The experience one encounters within the garden are ever-changing and evanescent. Sound and scent are spatial and temporal. Two people in the same situation will likely have a uniquely different commentary on the same landscape experience. More so than other arts, garden design and landscape design can summon all our sensual responses.

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UConn Native and Sustainable Plant Guide_Page_08 

Connecticut Native Plant and Sustainable Landscaping Guide

By Victoria Wallace and Alyssa Siegel-Miles

Interest in native plants and sustainable landscaping has exploded over the last decade. Through our UConn Extension Sustainable Turf & Landscape program, we provide practical science-based information to support the sustainability goals of Connecticut green industry professionals and home gardeners. With that in mind, we developed a free online guide of 44 pages of plant lists for every location matched with vibrant photographs.

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Colorful flower power July salad. 

Eat the Lawn

By Arianna Alexsandra Collins

July is a perfect time to gather flowers and greens for salad and pesto. There is an abundance of wild and garden edibles, so why make the trip to the grocery store for produce when you have a variety of food to choose from right in your yard? Create a daylily salad, with a little yard-grown purslane topped with pedals of bee balm for color and bergamot flavor finished with a tasty vinaigrette.

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Jerry Harris: Nymphaea odorata 

ELA Names Winners of 2021 Spotlight on Natives Contest

Photographers from across the country submitted nearly 200 images to ELA’s 2021 Spotlight on Natives Photography Contest. Each sought to capture the special allure of native plants – the unique structure of trunks, stems, leaves, blossoms, seeds; the juxtaposition of native plants in groupings; and the interaction of pollinators with native plants. This year’s entries again encompassed an outstanding array of plants and habitats.

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Two bridges allow the main trail to hug the quarry edges—and visitors to see the fish swimming below.

The Quarry Gardens at Schuyler

By Cynthia Wood

In the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Nelson County, Virginia, the Quarry Gardens at Schuyler offer a unique opportunity for nature lovers to learn about native plants and their ecosystems. Opened to the public in 2017, the Quarry Gardens occupy 40 acres within a 440-acre natural preserve, and support a vibrant diversity of species.

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This combination of threadleaf bluestar, showy stonecrop and aromatic aster packs a colorful punch in a small space for the fall garden.   

Planting Landscape Niches

By Susan Barton

In today’s rapidly urbanizing environment, we have a unique opportunity, if not a duty, to create livable landscapes that are attractive, easily managed, and provide a rich complement of plants to support diverse ecosystems. Let’s adapt a naturalistic design aesthetic that allows us to use native plants in home gardens, reflecting our regional spirit of place.  

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