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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.


Restoring a Pitch Pine-Oak Upland Forest at Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary

Restoring a Pitch Pine-Oak Upland Forest at Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary Written by: Dan Wilder, Director of Wildlife Ecology, Norcross Wildlife Foundation Norcross Wildlife Foundation is located in south-central Massachusetts and…

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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. 

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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.


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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. 


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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.

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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. 

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