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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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Five Things I Learned This Year

By Cathy Weston

Back in my professional working days, I relished the quiet time around the holidays. I went into the office and used the time to clean and organize files, make a priority list of the next year’s goals, and start my year-end review. Now, as an ecological gardener, I do something similar. I  develop next year’s planting projects and reflect on what I have learned on the journey to ecological gardening.

 

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Green Stormwater Infrastructure

By Anna Shipp

Our current economic downturn caused by COVID-19 and ongoing social and climate crisis demands a transformational change in everything from business practices to public policy, including how we approach stormwater management. In rebuilding our economy, the government must prioritize green stormwater infrastructure because it’s a tool that fosters job growth, public health, community well-being, and resiliency.

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        Probes that measure the soil nutrients available to plants. All photos by ©
Christopher Neill. 

Could We Manage Backyards to Increase Biodiversity?

By Christopher Neill

Woodwell Climate Research Center and a group of scientists across the country report on groundbreaking research into how American homeowners shape the structure and ecology of yard ecosystems. The project team contacted homeowners, took measurements in their yards, and conducted homeowner surveys.  The report examines not only how homeowners shape their yard ecosystem, but also why they do what they do.

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<em>Aster novi-belgii</em>( New York aster) and <em>Rudbeckia hirta</em>(black-eyed Susan) brighten the view toward the water.  Photo by Mirna Canales.  Midsummer.  Northeast, MD.   

As Things Always Change, the Nature of Nature Remains the Same

By Kelsey Skaroff

2020 was obviously a remarkable year for many in adjusting work, relationships, and life in general in response to a pandemic, social justice movements, the economy, climate change, and politics. After a brief moment of uncertainly my job as Head Gardner went on as normal in this most unusual year.

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Wellness One Yard at a Time

by Kelly Cartwright, Ph.D. 

When I started researching native landscaping and eco-friendly yard care, my primary motivation was in its ecological and wildlife benefits. As I researched the topic further, I became interested in the connection to human well-being. I never imagined the soul-supporting connection I would form with my yard and the species with whom I interact.

 

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<em>Aronia melanocarpa </em> (chokeberry)  

Small Native Shrubs to Replace Commonly Used Exotics

By Sarah W. Middeleer, ASLA

What do Japanese spirea, burning bush, boxwood, and forthysia all have in common? They are all non-native common garden plants that can be invasive and do not support native pollinators. Growing native plants helps foster biodiversity, feed bees, and other pollinators.  Many of our northeastern native shrubs are fantastic substitutes for commonly used exotics. 

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How Can Composting Enhance Soil and Benefit Your Business

By Adam Jankauskas 

Compost is recognized as a valuable component of the ecological landscape and many ecological landscape practitioners utilize compost in the management of their properties. Compost has a place in a more sustainable world but providing composting services for clients can be unsustainable. How can composting be made easier without the added expense? 

 

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 Decomposing leaves blend with the environment and act as 

Leave the Leaves!

By Catherine Carney-Feldman

Though fall cleanup can be a hard habit to break, there are ample reasons to leave those leaves. Most native pollinator species overwinter right in your leaf litter and dead stems of your perennials. Leaf compost can greatly enhance the quality of your soil, help it retain moisture, and protect young plants from fluctuating winter temperatures. Utilize your leaves as a resource rather than a problem. 

 

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Forest Savers LLC from Woodstock, Vermont uses a custom-built tractor to uproot and shred invasive shrubs at the Oyster River Forest in Durham, NH as part of a 60-acre restoration project to restore a healthy native plant community to benefit pollinators, songbirds, and the state-endangered New England cottontail. 

Reducing Invasive Plants and Recovering a Healthy Plant Community

By Ellen Snyder

In southeastern New Hampshire, where I work with landowners and communities on land stewardship, managing invasive plants is a constant struggle. As the Land Stewardship Coordinator for the Town of Durham, I’m guiding three restoration projects on town conservation land. It was hard not to be overwhelmed by the pervasiveness of invasive plants on all three properties. To avoid invasive paralysis, I keep my focus on the goal: restoration of a place to a mostly self-sustaining, healthy plant community.  The reward is a restored landscape brimming with native plants and native beneficial insects. 

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Patio with salvaged sandstone 

Revitalizing A Tired Palette

by Don Pell

Four years ago, a project inquiry brought me to a site that dreams are made of—an 18th-century colonial farmhouse beautifully restored over the past 30 years by its owners. The details of the home were meticulously curated; however, the gardens were entirely unconsidered. The home’s surroundings looked degraded and sadly suburban. Join me as I transform this landscape into an ecological oasis for the homeowners to enjoy for years to come.  

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 From left: A garden of anise hyssop, little bluestem, sneezeweed, boneset in front of smooth hydrangea. 

Lessons Learned on A Native Plant Journey

By Cathy Weston

A visit to  Cape Cod brings us to a  2-acre fallow farmland property where the homeowner/gardener has spent years cutting back invasive plants to return the land from an Old Field habitat to a Coastal Woodland.  The amount of effort to remove and keep invasives at bay could seem a daunting task, but this homeowner persevered and with trial and error created a beautiful ecological habitat for both herself and the wildlife her property now calls home. 

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