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Archive for the ‘green’ Category

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A quick overview of Washington’s forthcoming Canal Park, one of the first in the country to be built according to the guidelines of the Sustainable Sites Initiative.


December 4th, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Big data and consumer preferences

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I sat down with Dr. Charlie Hall last month to talk about his research into the drought, consumer attitudes and the general future of the green industry. You can read our full conversation in the forthcoming December issue of L&L, but here’s a sneak peek:

L&L: What projects are you working on? What’s got your interest right now?
Hall: It’s almost easier to answer what am I not doing. There’s consumer research and there’s research I do with colleagues on benchmarking the industry and in terms of production practices.

I’m also doing some research on the carbon footprint of shade trees right now. We call ourselves the green industry, but in many respects we’re not quite sure how green we are. Of course, the use of water for outdoor landscaping is a hot topic. So we’ve got to know what our footprint is, both in terms of carbon footprint and our water footprint for the future to be able to justify to legislators, and to city and municipal leaders, why we need to continue watering landscapes versus putting a moratorium on outdoor watering.

And I’m doing a whole lot of consumer research on people’s attitudes toward local, organic, sustainable plants. A lot of research has been done on food products but not necessarily on ornamental. So we’re looking at their attitudes on does it make a difference if a plant’s produced locally or whether it’s produced in an energy saving manner or a water saving manner. Or whether or not the plants are water conserving in the landscape. Does that mean anything to folks right now?

L&L: Can you share any initial findings or can you kind of give me an idea what people are thinking?
Hall: I’d say in general people are more responsive and more willing to pay a premium for products right now that are energy conserving rather than water conserving. But that’s also dependent on which region of the country they are. So if they’re in Michigan, they don’t think too much about whether a plant’s water conserving or not. But in Texas they do. Cause, you know in 2011 we lost a heck of a lot of plant materials down here in the state.

And a lot of folks decided, well, I think I’m gonna go back in the hardscape versus plants in my landscape. So we’re trying to measure those attitudes. They’re not looking at water conservation, either in growing the plants or water conservation in the landscape, as heavily as what we might have thought. Except in the regions of the country where that’s been hit by drought.

Hall and his team have spent years compiling research that outlines the economic benefits of plants and the tangible benefits the green industry has on people’s lives.

Apart from great cocktail party conversation, these data should be in your marketing materials and proposals. You can access his reports here.


November 14th, 2012 at 6:19 pm

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Thanks to the folks at Los Angeles Transit, I now know what to do with all these leftover political billboards.

Imagine sitting in traffic during your daily commute and instead of seeing the clutter of countless billboard advertisements you see gardens floating in the sky. That’s the kind of green experience Los Angeles-based artist Stephen Glassman wants us to have as we travel through our urban landscape. His Urban Air project hopes to transform the steel and wood frames that hold billboard advertising into suspended bamboo gardens.

Glassman’s been creating large-scale bamboo installations across Los Angeles since the aftermath of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. He came up with Urban Air because—like many of us who live in congested cities—he saw a need for more fresh, green space, and a greater connection to humanity. The idea won the 2011 London International Creativity Award and proved so inspiring that Summit Media, a billboard company based in Los Angeles actually offered to donate billboards along major streets and freeways.

You can learn more about the project here. What a great ad this would make for a local landscaper, nursery or garden center. Vote landscaping in 2012!


November 8th, 2012 at 6:08 pm

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Colorado stormwater laws get softer

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Colorado, like many western states, has strict regulations on the use and management of water. But the Silver State has long topped lists of the strictest. As the green movement grew, cities, homeowners and landscapers rushed to embrace stormwater detention systems like cisterns and rain barrels. Colorado banned them.

Water, in Colorado, belongs to everyone, and it’s no one’s right to stop God-given raindrops from entering “the stream.” Property owners get what falls on their property, but aren’t allowed to keep any of it for themselves to use later.

But that hard-line stance is softening a bit. In 2009, the state government allowed a few pilot developments to experiment with rainwater collection systems to see if they could limit the total water use on a property.

In the October issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine, Arthur Allen takes a look at one of these first projects, and what it could mean for a new Colorado landscape.

The first of these projects is scheduled to take place at Sterling Ranch, a 3,400-acre development south of Denver that when completed will include 12,050 residential units. It has been described as one of the most ecologically friendly developments in the West, and water conservation is a primary element. The project, which occupies the last major swath of undeveloped land between Denver and Castle Rock, Colo., has required a lot of paperwork and rigorous preparation, but groundbreaking is expected in 2014.

Planning for Sterling Rance focused from the beginning on minimizing water demand, with smaller individual yards and larger shared open spaces and parks that emphasize landscape solutions such as native plant use and artificial soccer and baseball fields. The project also incorporates conservation inside the houses, with auditing for excessive water use, which would bring financial penalties. The planners expect to average 0.286 acre-feet of water consumption per household. This would be a dramatic reduction compared to the traditional usage in the area. Before the project began, the surrounding county, Douglas County, had a cap of 0.75 acre-feet, which, in response to research conducted partly for Sterling Ranch, it has subsequently lowered to 0.4 acre-feet.

The biggest water savings are expected to come from using rainwater collection as a primary source for the community’s outdoor water needs. The developers expect to be able to meet about half of these outdoor requirements with God’s very own rainwater. Cisterns above- and below-ground will collect rainwater from houses and neighborhoods.

The story, which you can read here, is a fascinating look at the inner-workings of water savings on a large scale, and should give us some very practical data on how stormwater and detention systems can impact the residential landscape. These types of systems and regulations aren’t just impacting the West, and will only get worse in the future. No matter what part of landscaping you’re operating in, the water question is one everyone will have to think about in the coming years.


October 11th, 2012 at 12:55 pm

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3 years later

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This park at the corner of Bridge Avenue and West 58th in Cleveland is just a few blocks from our world headquarters. A few years ago, the L&L staff helped to clean up the former gas station site as part of PLANET’s annual Day of Service. We teamed up with a local community organization to weed the beds, plant new shrubs and pull out what felt like a few metric tons of bricks, concrete and other urban landfill.

I drove by to check on it today and am proud to report that it’s grown in nicely.


June 28th, 2012 at 12:25 am

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Practice what you preach

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I had the chance to visit John Deere’s Turf Care Factory in Raleigh N.C. as part of customer fly-ins the company does. And I learned a lot about the products and had a chance to meet landscapers and talk with them about the industry. But it was one little sign that really caught my attention. You can read the sign for yourself in the above photo.

Now, I don’t recall John Deere being especially preachy or over the top when it comes to being green, but I thought it was great that a company that makes products for the green industry is trying to be green in as many ways as possible. And if that means asking people to use revolving doors, then that’s a request you should take into account. Besides, why do you have to ASK people to use revolving doors. They are some of my favorite doors to walk through.

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June 22nd, 2012 at 4:49 pm

‘This is a terrible idea.’

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This comes to us from Todd Davis, the editor of Nursery Management, one of our sister publications in Fort Worth, Texas.

Seems that the oppressive heat and drought conditions in the Lone Star State have pushed some residents to tear out their turf and replace it with the fake stuff.

Clark said all of Alldredge Gardens’ recent jobs have been complete artificial renovations. The company exclusively is using a high-end artificial grass called EZ Turf. The massive, carpet-like squares are stitched together and have an underground irrigation system to stop pooling. The landscaping company has installed more than 30,000 square feet of the material in the past four months.

The chief landscaper is optimistic about this product as he rattled off its benefits: No need to water, no mowing, low maintenance, pet friendly, durable and almost fade-proof. Although the initial investment price for the artificial grass is about three times what his company would charge for a simple sod job, after about eight years the investment starts to pay dividends. Once the initial cost is covered, there is little more expenditure compared to those of a natural lawn. There is a 15-year manufacturer warranty and an estimated life-span between 20 and 25 years.

Here’s what Todd has to say:

This is a terrible idea. Can you imagine how hot your house in West Texas would get if it was surrounded by artificial turf insead of natural grass? Oh my gosh, with that reflected heat, it might get up to 150 degrees.

I live in Ohio and can’t speak to conditions in Texas, but I don’t t imagine an AstroTurf lawn being very easy on your feet in the summer months. Any landscapers down south have experience with this care to comment? Send it to me at


February 23rd, 2012 at 9:18 pm

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