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Developing Healthy Landscapes

An unhealthy environment should not be the price of a beautiful landscape. Inappropriate plant choices and inadequate soil preparation can lead to a reliance on excessive use of water and on toxic chemicals to resolve problems. Ecological landscaping encourages practices that promote a healthy environment through conservation of resources, respect for biodiversity, and ecologically-sound techniques.

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Spring Tool Maintenance

by Steve Cushman

One of the most important chores for tool maintenance is keeping cutting edges sharp; however, sharpening can cover a huge realm of techniques and tools. Find out about techniques requiring only a small investment in tools, and you’ll have your garden tools in perfect shape as the season starts – and perhaps be inspired to keep them that way.

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Carbon Gardening

by Adrian Ayres Fisher

Gardeners new to the concept of carbon gardening often ask these two questions: What good soil management strategies will help maximize carbon sequestration? And, what would be a good plant palette to help accomplish this? Good questions. Read the article.

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Green Manure

by Robert Kourik

You say you want to garden all-naturally, but the closest source of animal manure is many miles away? Then green manuring might be for you. Green manuring is the process of tilling fresh green plants into the soil to help make it drain better and allow it to hold onto more moisture, with an added bonus – the plants, as they decay, act as a readily available fertilizer. Green manuring is also pretty darn close to free fertilizer – discounting the cost of a few seeds and plenty of elbow grease. Learning how the natural cycle of decomposition works means you’ll know exactly what part of the cycle to influence, how to speed up the natural processes, and how to improve the soil in either the short or the long term.

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Mention of products is not intended to constitute endorsement. Opinions expressed in this newsletter article do not necessarily represent those of ELA’s directors, staff, or members. 

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What Is Soil Health?

by Robert Schindelbeck, Aaron Ristow, Kirsten Kurtz, Lindsay Fennell, and Harold van Es

In general, soil health and soil quality are considered synonymous and can be used interchangeably, with one key distinction conceptualized by scientists and practi­tioners over the last decades: soil quality includes both inherent and dynamic quality.

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The Massachusetts Healthy Soils Action Plan: Overview & Survey

by Keith Zaltzberg and Jim Newman

In the Fall of 2020, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs is scheduled to release the Massachusetts Healthy Soils Action Plan (MA HSAP). This ambitious plan seeks to protect and build the economic and ecological resilience of the Commonwealth through exceptional soil stewardship and will consider all major land use types, including forest, wetland, turf and managed greenspace, highly impervious built landscapes, and agriculture.

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Tools to Help Landscape Professionals Tackle Climate Change: An Ongoing Challenge

by Amanda Sloan

Many landscape professionals realize they are in a unique position both to notice changes to the local environment resulting from greenhouse gas emissions and to propose and enact creative solutions to counteract those changes. In 2018, ELA began discussion at the board level about what kinds of practical tools could be developed and promulgated to help landscape professionals transition to methods that do not cause greenhouse gas emissions. Subsequently, the ELA’s Carbon Working Group was formed and is looking for input.

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Eco-Answers from the Pros: How Clean Should Fall Cleanup Be?

As I begin fall cleanup in my gardens, what are your recommendations? Should I clean beds off, cutting foliage and remaining seed heads off? Are there some plants best cut off and others that are good to leave until spring? Also, should I remove leaves entirely from the ground around plants? I didn’t get all the leaves removed from beds last year and had a lot of damage to plant roots from either voles or moles.

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Goats as an Ecological Management Option for Invasive Plants

by Sandy Vorce

“Gotta get a goat” was the author’s mantra a decade ago as she struggled against bittersweet, buckthorn, and multiflora rose to regain a portion of meadow at Mass Audubon’s property in Belmont, MA. Her wish was granted, and the property now successfully utilizes a four-hoofed crew for control of invasive plants. Read the article.

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Native Plants Shine in Streambank Restoration

by Krissy Boys

Four years after replacement of a streambank water control structure, native grasses, sedges, and forbs planted at the site have become well established. Most species are thriving and have propagated themselves by self-sowing in the streambank gardens. Only two species out of 58 genera completely failed.

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