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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.

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Celebrating Natives Garden Tour – Newton, MA

Hosted by Sally Muspratt

This native plant installation provides a welcome respite for residents and guests at the Coleman House. The quiet woodland walk through the lovely, tall pines links the bright annual plantings of the parking lot and Memorial Garden with the contrasting experience of an enhanced natural woodland and provides an opportunity for safe, gentle exercise in the open air for the elderly residents.

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Planting Native Shade Trees

by Julia Frederick 

Shade trees are more important than ever as we face rapid development and suburban sprawl, deforestation, and desertification. These gentle giants help combat rising temperatures, habitat loss and declining air and water quality. Additionally, native canopy trees provide abundant food and shelter for insects, amphibians, birds, and mammals.

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Celebrating Natives Garden Tour – Needham, MA

Hosted by Marie Chieppo

Avery Park, a busy commuter rail station park becomes a native plant oasis for people and pollinators alike. Follow Needham based landscape designer Marie Chieppo’s journey through a barren weed-infested plot to a popular garden gathering spot that is doing double duty during the COVID pandemic as a great place to socialize while staying six feet apart.

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Designing Gardens Accessible to All

by Rachel Lindsay

An accessible landscape provides not just access but varied experiences to all visitors. Ecological designers take the concept of universal design even farther and consider how the landscape, especially public and participatory gardens, can benefit not just people of all abilities, but also wildlife, pollinators, soil microorganisms, and watersheds.

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Planting Edible Native Species – A Case Study from Massachusetts

by Russ Cohen

A newly daylighted stream at Willard’s Woods in Lexington, MA presented a serendipitous opportunity for introduction of edible native plants to the conservation area. At a double session focused on propagating and planting edible native plant species, Russ Cohen and co-presenter Georgia Hann included this 2017 project at ELA’s 2020 Conference & Eco-Marketplace in March. Here, Russ follows up the conference session with a deeper dive into the Willard’s Woods project.

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Edible Plantings in the Built Landscape

Surrounded by uncertainty, more people are thinking about how their landscapes can provide food. Lawns are yielding to vegetable gardens, and suppliers of chicks have struggled to keep up with demand. For those who don’t want to take on the responsibility of a new garden or chickens, we asked a couple of ELA members to share how they introduce edible plants into the landscape.

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Magazine Review: Wild Seed, Volume 6

Reviewed by Curtis Jirsa

Wild Seed is an annual magazine published by Wild Seed Project, a Maine-based nonprofit that advocates for using more native plants in our landscapes. This year’s volume, like its predecessors, is a compelling and richly-illustrated collaboration between an impressive group of scholars, horticultural professionals, local artists, and other experts and enthusiasts.

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Eco-Answers from the Pros: Native Tree Versus Exotic Tree

Can you please explain to me the benefits of planting native trees over exotic trees? I thought having more exotic trees meant less risk for common diseases on native tree species; however, the process of naturalization indicates a focus on native tree planting over exotic. Is it true exotic trees are more expense to purchase than native ones?

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Spread Plant Love, Not Mulch

by Missy Fabel

It’s easy to be beguiled by the fresh look and scent of newly spread mulch. Yet for the ecologically minded, the spread of native groundcovers by rhizome, stolon, or seed introduces both functionality and a particular aesthetic into the landscape as plants fill cover soil by virtue of their growth habits and reproductive strategies.

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Designing for a Shady, Dry Yard

I live in Zone 6 just outside of Boston, MA. Our tiny front yard faces north and is mostly shaded by the three-story house. To make matters worse, there is a Norway Maple on the other side of the sidewalk, so the yard is dry. The turf grass currently planted cannot cope, and there are many bare patches, even with regular overseeding. I tried Pennsylvania sedge as an experiment, and that seems to be doing well, but I don’t think I want the whole yard planted with sedge. What native plants could we use against the foundation that don’t get too high and perhaps could replace the turf? The yard is too small (21’ X 10’) for a tree or large shrubs.

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