SOURCEBOOKON NATURAL LANDSCAPING     FOR LOCAL OFFICIALS                Updated and third printing August 2004  prepared by
Natural Landscaping SourcebookThis project has been funded in part by the United                  PROJECT CONSULTANTS:Stat...
Table of ContentsPurpose of the Sourcebook                             5  Chapter 1: Introduction to Natural Landscaping  ...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebook4
Natural Landscaping Sourcebook                  PURPOSE OF THIS                     Government officials can amend compreh...
Natural Landscaping SourcebookIllinois region, will need to research their ownlandscape history. They will need to obtainl...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebook                     CHAPTER 1: NATURAL            plants but has slightly broader implicati...
Natural Landscaping SourcebookII. THE LANDSCAPES    OF   YESTERDAY   AND   TODAY      Native prairie, woodland and wetland...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebook                                                           ditions across the region:       ...
Natural Landscaping SourcebookSome examples:                                          rough devoted to native plants and n...
Natural Landscaping SourcebookWith careful planning, native plants can consti-     Paving in unused paved areas can be rem...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebook* To create greenways                                 provide better wildlife habitat than t...
Natural Landscaping SourcebookSample buffer criteria for a stream greenwayFor more information about stormwater:Reducing t...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebook                  CHAPTER 2:                       Reduced costs of landscape installation a...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebookwater for irrigation can be very high and are       tation in detention basin bottoms and on...
Natural Landscaping SourcebookSupports the natural landscaping component ofthe “green industry”There are many opportunitie...
Natural Landscaping SourcebookDemonstration projects for streambank andshoreline stabilization, such as along the SkokieRi...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebooksummer, the few ounces spilled during each            Energy Conservationrefueling of lawn a...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebookroot depth distributions and microbes that pro-      factors relating to the ability of a si...
Natural Landscaping SourcebookBeautification                                         and forest preserve districts are cri...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebookcommunity.                                          nities for grade school, high school, an...
Natural Landscaping SourcebookFor more information about greenways:Northeastern Illinois Regional Greenways Plan.Northeast...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebook                     CHAPTER 3: WHAT                   * Make someone on staff responsible f...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebook    of natural areas; inform the public of these             asked questions, and sources of...
Natural Landscaping SourcebookIllinois Noxious Weed Law                            ious weeds.The Illinois Noxious Weed La...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebookwith natural landscaping. Communities adopt         majority of neighbors.weed laws in order...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebookral landscapers and neighbors. Primarily, set-        tual stabilization of soil fertility t...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebookmunity that embodies this policy. Long Grove         nity may want to try a pilot program di...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebook                  CHAPTER 4: THE                     larger scale projects include corporate...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebookplant where, since soil conditions can vary dra-              look at alternative plants.mat...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebookwith groundcovers, shrubs, grasses and colorful      years according to changing conditions ...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebook                                                              management) to accomplish the ...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebookconditions throughout the region have been sodisturbed that successful approaches on onesite...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebookning and add carefully chosen matrices of more       tion and early growth. Straw, mulches, ...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebookfirst years. In the spring following the first year   Strategies for Being a Good Neighbor w...
Natural Landscaping Sourcebook                           36
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois
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Sourcebook on Natural Landscaping for Local Officials - Illinois

  1. 1. SOURCEBOOKON NATURAL LANDSCAPING FOR LOCAL OFFICIALS Updated and third printing August 2004 prepared by
  2. 2. Natural Landscaping SourcebookThis project has been funded in part by the United PROJECT CONSULTANTS:States Environmental Protection Agency under anassistance agreement with the Northeastern Illinois Applied Ecological Services, Inc.Planning Commission. The contents of this document Brodhead, Wisconsindo not necessarily reflect the views and policies of &the United States Environmental Protection Agency Thompson Dyke & Associates, Ltdor the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission, Northbrook, Illinois.nor does the mention of trade names or commercialproducts constitute endorsement or recommendation Line Drawings of Native Plants from Dick Young,for use. Wild Plants and Natural Areas of Kane County and University of Wisconsin-Extension inIn addition to funding by the United States Cooperation withEnvironmental Protection Agency, the updated and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resourcesthird printing was funded through a grant programsupported by the USDA Forest Service Northeastern ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:Area, State and Private Forestry, and the U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service, in support of Chicago Wilderness. The 2004 update was completed with guidance andUSFWS and USFS grants of federal monies are assistance from Danielle Green, Laura Evans andadministered by the Illinois Conservation Helen Tsiapis of the U.S. Environmental ProtectionFoundation. Agency, Barbara Wood of the Chicago Park District, Jerry Milewski of American Gardens, Jack Pizzo of PROJECT STAFF: Pizzo and Associates, Tom Price of Conservation Design Forum, Mike Sands of Prairie Crossing, Jack Richard Mariner Broughton formerly of Applied Ecological Services Dennis Dreher and now with Bielinski Homes, Diane Trgovcich Katja Huebner Zacok of Purdue University Calumet, and Clayton Libby Hill Heffter and Mary Beth Falsey of DuPage County. Eva Wurm Additional staff for 2004 Update: Irene Hogstrom, Updated and third printing August 2004 Holly Hudson, Belinda King, Kerry Leigh, Kathy Second Printing August 1998 Maynard, Suzanne Thorsen, Julia Friedman May 19972
  3. 3. Table of ContentsPurpose of the Sourcebook 5 Chapter 1: Introduction to Natural Landscaping 7 Chapter 2: Benefits of Natural Landscaping 14 Chapter 3: The Role of Local Government 23 Chapter 4: The “How To” of Natural Landscaping 29 (Includes Follow-up Maintenance) Chapter 5: Case Studies in Natural Landscaping 51Appendices Appendix 1: Glossary 64 Appendix 2: Selecting Assistance for Your Project 67 Appendix 3: Plant Lists 69 Appendix 4: Sources of Information and Assistance 74 Appendix 5: Fact Sheet: Natural Landscaping 79 Appendix 6: Sample Ordinances 82 Appendix 7: Illinois EPA Permit Information 88 Appendix 8: Examples of Natural Landscaping Installation and Maintenance Costs 92 Appendix 9: Executive Order 97 Appendix 10: Selected Bibliography 99
  4. 4. Natural Landscaping Sourcebook4
  5. 5. Natural Landscaping Sourcebook PURPOSE OF THIS Government officials can amend comprehensive SOURCE BOOK plans and adopt ordinances to promote the appreciation and use of natural landscapes. In recent years, a new look in Citizen education about the benefits of natural landscaping, commonly landscaping can provide a powerful incentive, known as natural landscaping, especially if government officials can point to has been gaining enthusiastic demonstration projects of their own. acceptance across the country. Natural landscaping is an aes- This Source Book will: thetically exciting, ever-chang- * Explain the basic principles and benefits of nat- ing tapestry of hardy, primari- ural landscaping; Blue Vervain ly native plantings well adapt- * Demonstrate the feasibility of using naturaled to the local climate and soil. It provides a landscaping successfully in the region;cost effective alternative to conventional turf * Provide information regarding the ways thatgrass lawns. local officials as community leaders can encour- age the use of natural landscaping;Natural landscaping minimizes the environmen- * Identify ways to avoid pitfalls that could resulttally detrimental effects of pesticides and fertil- in poorly implemented natural landscaping;izers, as well as the noise pollution and the * Describe tools and techniques; andemission of air-polluting substances from lawn-maintenance equipment. It virtually eliminates * Provide direction to other sources of informa- tion and expertise.the need to use water for irrigation, as isrequired for turf grass lawns. While not mainte- This guidebook was originally prepared by thenance free, natural landscaping requires less Northeastern Illinois Planning Commissiontime and money for ongoing maintenance than (NIPC) for the U.S. Environmental Protectionconventional landscapes. Agency, Region 5 (USEPA). The intended audi- ence is local officials, land owners, and citizensHomeowners and developers alike are begin- in the greater northeastern Illinois region.ning to appreciate the environmental, economicand aesthetic benefits of natural landscaping. Because regional geological histories and cli- mate vary greatly and are basic to implementingLocal officials are in a position to advocate natu- natural landscaping, natural landscaping inral landscaping and bring its benefits to their other regions must be tailored to those uniquecommunities. Local governments demonstrate conditions. Therefore, landscape planners andthe benefits by using native plant materials on ecological restoration practitioners in othergovernment owned and managed lands. regions, and even within this large northeastern5
  6. 6. Natural Landscaping SourcebookIllinois region, will need to research their ownlandscape history. They will need to obtainlocal information in order to understand theirspecific natural conditions and native vegeta-tion. However, the basic principles and benefitsof natural landscaping, as described in thisSource Book, should apply anywhere. 6
  7. 7. Natural Landscaping Sourcebook CHAPTER 1: NATURAL plants but has slightly broader implications because it also suggests landscaping to give the LANDSCAPING “look” of the landscape that existed before the I. What is Natural mid-1800s. In addition, there may be an attempt Landscaping? to restore or reconstruct the landscape to look II. The Landscapes of Today and function more as it did before settlers, other and Yesterday than Native Americans, lived here. III. How Can Natural Natural landscaping applies to a wide array of Landscaping be Used? landscaping techniques that help retain naturalRattlesnake Master landscape features, including wetlands, wood- lands and natural drainage features. For exam-I. WHAT IS NATURAL LANDSCAPING? ple, natural landscaping site design incorporates natural drainage features such as swales andNatural Landscaping is the physical modifica- vegetated “filter strips” in contrast to stormtion of outdoors to serve the needs of people by sewers and artificial drainage channels.planting, altering the contours of the ground,and building structures and amenities such as Beneficial landscaping is another term in cur-pedestrian ways, paths and picnic areas. rent use that embraces both native and natural landscaping. The term beneficial landscaping also includes the use of shading and wind-Native landscaping, Natural landscaping, and breaks, which reduce heating and cooling needsBeneficial landscaping for buildings.Natural landscaping is a relatively new term. These terms are relatively new and their defini-Other terms in current use mean much the same tions are somewhat fluid. Questions of termi-thing and are somewhat interchangeable. The nology should not obscure the basic intent orterms are discussed in the context of the concepts. The term “natural landscaping” willMidwestern United States. be used throughout this guide. In Appendix 1Native landscaping refers to the use of plants— of this guide is a glossary of frequently usedfor example, prairie, woodland and wetland terms associated with natural landscaping.plants—that flourished in northeastern Illinoisprior to its occupation by settlers from easternNorth America and Europe.Natural landscaping implies the use of native7
  8. 8. Natural Landscaping SourcebookII. THE LANDSCAPES OF YESTERDAY AND TODAY Native prairie, woodland and wetland plants of the Chicago region have great beauty and are well adapted to local conditions. Unfortunately, they have been displaced to a large extent by non-native plants that were familiar to the peo- ple who first farmed and developed our urban areas. Only in recent years have the beauty and utility of our native plants and plant communi- ties become widely appreciated. Our predominant landscaping material today, the green grass lawn, is borrowed from the heavily grazed, short grass pastures and formalPrairie Planting at Lucent Technologies – Naperville, gardens of Europe, particularly England. In thatIllinois moist climate, the closely cropped grasses evolved with the grazing sheep, goats and cows.Northeastern Illinois lies along the northeastern Understandably, pioneers from Europe, used toedge of the range of the Tall Grass Prairie of the the short grasses, brought the grasses as well asMidwest. The prevailing landscape before medicinal and food plants to make the unfamil-European settlement was open prairie. In some iar feel familiar.areas the prairie was flat, in others rolling. Theprairies were regularly interspersed with poorly Unfortunately, the grasses they brought do notdrained lowland and dry, well-drained uplands. thrive as well-kept lawns without a great deal ofRainfall flowed from the uplands into lowland effort to simulate the conditions under whichwet meadows and marshes. they evolved in Europe.Throughout the region were small to large tracts Our area of the country, with its harsher climateof savannas consisting primarily of scattered of extremes of heat and deep freezes, droughtoak trees interspersed with characteristic grasses and drenching rains, is an inhospitable atmos-and forbs. More heavily forested areas, some phere for short-cropped, short-rooted grass.covering vast acreages and known to the Therefore, the contemporary weed-free lawn isEuropean settlers as “The Big Woods,” grew on maintained at a high price, not only in terms ofthe eastern sides of our north-south running dollars but also degraded water and air quality,rivers, where they were protected from fierce water consumption, and the peace and quiet ofprairie fires. In some places, impenetrable thick- our neighborhoods.ets covered sandy areas and low dunes. 8
  9. 9. Natural Landscaping Sourcebook ditions across the region: * sandy soils associated with Lake Michigan and its larger predecessors; * rich lowland forest soils in floodplains along streams and rivers; * heavy clay soils in low-lying wooded areas; * wet conditions associated with wetlands, wet prairies, and riparian corridors; * dry uplands on rolling lands left by glaciers; and * moderate lands originally covered by tall-grassDifficult to maintain conventional landscaping. prairies and groves of oaks and other hard- woods. Fortunately, there is a selection of native plants that have a wide tolerance for varying condi- tions and work well in many locations. Where special expertise and resources are available, ambitious natural landscaping projects can attempt to restore the original soil and water conditions. III. HOW CAN NATURAL LANDSCAPING BE USED?Natural landscaping for habitat and reduced maintenance. Almost everyone can use natural landscaping.We need to assess which parts of our landscapes There is no rigid set of rules that dictates howcould be replaced with native plants. In return- much or what qualifies as natural landscapinging to a more natural landscape, we will be or when it is appropriate. The conceptreturning those plants which evolved under our embraces a range of opportunities for propertyconditions of climatic stress, which require less owners, managers and public officials. Anymaintenance and coddling and provide environ- effort that increases the amount of area devotedmental, economic and aesthetic benefits. to natural landscaping will be of some benefit. It will largely be up to property owners, localOne immediate result of the switch from con- officials, planners, engineers, and landscapeventional to native or natural landscaping is that professionals to determine where, what kind,our landscape can thrive under the diverse con- and how much.9
  10. 10. Natural Landscaping SourcebookSome examples: rough devoted to native plants and natural environ- ments. The Audubon Cooperative SanctuaryNew developments of all types can Program for Golf Courses encourages golf courses to include wildlife habitat enhancement, establishment* preserve and enhance existing natural areas such as of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs, andprairie, wetland, floodplain and woodland areas as protection of water resources.an essential component of site planning; Local governmental units can* cluster homes in order to reserve green areasdesigned with native plants as a substitute for con- * incorporate natural areas into non-active areas onventional subdivision design; most types of public property, as well as use natural landscaping for stormwater management.* reduce the amount of impervious surfaces by sub-stituting vegetation where appropriate; Native plants can be used in various ways in the* utilize natural drainage approaches such as swales landscapeand vegetated filter strips instead of storm sewers. *Native plants as one part of the landscapingExisting institutional and commercial complexes can material* create prairie, wetland, and woodland areas as part Existing or new building sites can use nativeof government, corporate and institutional campuses, trees, shrubs and grasses instead of the “exotic”and reduce the area devoted to turf grass; plants typically marketed by nurseries. Native* design and retrofit stormwater detention basins as grasses and ground covers may partially replacenatural wetland/prairie systems to enhance water turf areas. This approach is becoming increas-quality and other environmental benefits. ingly popular with homeowners. Natural land- scaping on commercial properties providesIndividuals and groups of homeowners can environmental benefits and a distinctive appear- ance to the building site. “Ornamental” use of* totally or partially replace lawn areas and common native vegetation in landscape design can createareas with native plants and retrofit areas for more unusual and attractive effects.natural stormwater detention. * Native plants as the principal landscapingGolf courses can material* reduce the amount of turf by including areas of 10
  11. 11. Natural Landscaping SourcebookWith careful planning, native plants can consti- Paving in unused paved areas can be removedtute the primary landscaping material in new and natural landscaping installed.development sites and sites that are being re-landscaped. This approach may be particularly There are several special situations where theappropriate for office campuses, public facilities natural landscaping approach should be consid -and parks, institutions, and clustered residential ered:development. Using native plants can result inmajor environmental improvements and cost * To preserve existing native vegetationsavings. Preserving existing natural vegetation is a fun- damental purpose of natural landscaping. While* Using more vegetation and less concrete and very little area within the region has been left inasphalt its native state by humans, there are rare and valuable natural area remnants (wetlands,The excessive use of concrete, asphalt and other prairies, and woodlands) which should be pro-impervious materials in our landscapes causes tected and properly managed. With removal ofseveral environmental problems. It accelerates exotic species, native plants will often re-estab-stormwater runoff and creates flooding and ero- lish themselves rather quickly.sion conditions for communities along streams.It results in higher temperatures in urban envi- * To restore ecological systemsronments, making the out-of-doors less pleasant Another primary use of natural landscapingand increasing the need for air conditioning. involves restoring entire ecosystems with a fullIncreasing the use of vegetation- especially complement of native species. These projectsnative vegetation- in our landscaping can reduce include restoration of previously altered hydrol-damage from stormwater runoff, reduce tem- ogy along streams and in wetlands and removalperatures, reduce energy costs, improve water of drain tiles. Intensive design, monitoring andquality and increase wildlife habitat. maintenance programs with long-term profes- sional oversight are critical to the success of theStrategies for increasing the amount of perme- restored landscape.able surfaces include: reducing street widths inresidential developments, reducing setbacks On publicly owned lands, volunteers can helpbetween buildings and streets, designing small- accomplish large scale restorations. Volunteerer parking lots which include island vegetation, workers and expert volunteer stewards are already providing experienced stewardship inand clustering development on part of a site. all Chicago area counties.11
  12. 12. Natural Landscaping Sourcebook* To create greenways provide better wildlife habitat than traditional engineering approaches.Linear open spaces called “greenways” provideexceptional opportunities for utilizing natural * To manage flood and stormwaterlandscaping to protect and restore the region’secological identity. Many of the region’s forest Flooding affects many communities inpreserves are in greenway corridors and are Northeastern Illinois. Floodplains are regulatedbeing managed to maintain their natural charac- so they will be retained in non-intensive, openter. The Northeastern Illinois Regional space uses in order to reduce hazards fromGreenways Plan, adopted by the Northeastern flooding. Planting native vegetation in flood-Illinois Planning Commission (NIPC) in 1992 plains helps absorb and slow flood waters.and updated in 1997, reflects these regionalgreenway opportunities. Stormwater drainage facilities and detention basins designed to replicate the natural waterLocal jurisdictions can plan and implement local purification functions of wetlands also improvegreenways that connect with the regional green- water quality and wildlife habitat as well as cre-way network. Greenways are appropriate on ating aesthetically pleasing landscapes. Carefulboth public and private property. Local and design and planting of these facilities allowsregional greenways are excellent and appropri- them to blend more naturally into the landscapeate locations for natural landscaping. than conventional structures.Many greenways contain rivers, streams, orother waterways. In these locations native vege-tation in buffer strips adjacent to the stream pro-vides wildlife habitat, bank stabilization, andwater quality benefits. These buffer strips pro-tect natural resources from human impacts and .filter out pollutants that could flow into streams.* To stabilize streambanks and shorelinesNative willows, grasses and other plants can beused to stabilize eroding streambanks andshorelines. The techniques that employ nativeplant materials are collectively called bioengi-neering. They are more effective, less costly, and 12
  13. 13. Natural Landscaping SourcebookSample buffer criteria for a stream greenwayFor more information about stormwater:Reducing the Impacts of Urban Runoff.Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission:1997.Strategic Plan for Water Resource Management.Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission:2001.13
  14. 14. Natural Landscaping Sourcebook CHAPTER 2: Reduced costs of landscape installation and maintenance BENEFITS OF NATURAL There can be a cost savings in the installation of LANDSCAPING natural landscaping versus conventional land- scaping, depending upon materials specified. I. Economic Benefits The cost of seed, whether it is conventional Kentucky Blue Grass seed or native seed, is sim- II. Environmental Benefits ilar. The installation of sod increases costs, as III. Educational and does the installation of plugs in natural land- Recreational Benefits scaping. The significant savings is in the cost of Prairie Phlox installing an irrigation system, which is neces- sary for maintaining a conventional landscape.The numerous potential benefits of natural land- Native plant installation costs can often bescaping may be divided into economic, environ- reduced where the project sponsor or co-spon-mental and educational/recreational themes. sor is a public or private entity with plant prop-These categories are the focus of this chapter. agating capabilities. Volunteers are often willingI. ECONOMIC BENEFITS to assist in the installation and maintenance of native landscapes, which further reduces costs.The “bottom line” can be a strong motivationfor installing and maintaining natural landscap- A major savings of natural landscaping is theing instead of a conventional lawn. The savings lower cost of landscape maintenance over thethat can be realized through natural landscaping long-term. The combined costs of installationfor municipalities, park districts, school-dis- and maintenance for natural landscape over atricts, corporations, and institutional campuses ten year period may be one fifth of the costs forare dramatically illustrated in later examples, conventional landscape maintenance.where approximately nine-tenths of convention- Native perennial plants are well adapted to theal landscape maintenance costs were eliminated. local soils and to environmental conditions,For some organizations, reducing site mainte- such as summer heat and drought. The costs ofnance costs may be a significant factor in being the following maintenance factors are signifi-able to balance the budget. cantly reduced or eliminated through natural landscaping: labor, water, fertilizer, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, replanting annual flow- ers, and mowing. In some locations the costs of 14
  15. 15. Natural Landscaping Sourcebookwater for irrigation can be very high and are tation in detention basin bottoms and on sideavoided by natural landscaping. The reduced slopes is less expensive to maintain than con-consumption of fossil fuel for lawn maintenance ventional turf landscaping, in addition to beingequipment is an additional benefit. Typical orig- a more reliable soil stabilizer.inal maintenance requirements of natural land-scapes involve annual mowing or burning and Creation of a distinctive community image thatsome weed removal (mostly in the few years strengthens real estate marketsafter installation). High quality natural features such as river corri-Appendix 8 contains detailed installation and dors and woodlands strengthen the identity of amaintenance cost analyses based on the experi- community or neighborhood. Distinctive natu-ence of firms that design, install, and maintain ral landscaping that preserves the unique char-natural landscaping projects. acteristics of a community is a unique communi- ty asset.Reduced expense for stormwater managementfacilities Real estate within a well-designed distinctive landscape setting can possess a marketing edgeIn many locations, natural landscaping can and positively affect property values. A com-accommodate storm and flood waters, thereby munity that appears to care for a high qualityreducing the need for expensive, “highly engi- environment establishes a marketing niche thatneered” conveyance and detention facilities. traditional area developments cannot offer.Drainage swales in particular cost considerablyless to install than storm sewers. Where practi- Natural landscaping projects require materials,cal, curbs and gutters can be eliminated, or labor and professional services that generatecurbs can be slotted. To the extent that natural income as well as enhance the environment.drainage measures can increase infiltration of Nurseries, landscape architects, environmentalstormwater, they will reduce runoff volumes restoration professionals, environmental groups,and costs of downstream conveyance and deten- and neighborhood organizations are increasing-tion structures. ly responding to the market for natural land- scaping materials and professional expertise.Detention basins designed with natural land- Some inner-city neighborhood organizations arescaping to resemble wetlands or natural lake considering the economic development potentialsystems reduce costs over conventional basins. of cultivating native plants and seed productsNative wetland and prairie vegetation eliminate for environmental restoration projects. Sourcesthe need for expensive riprap stabilization and for natural landscaping materials must be frompaved low flow channels. Further, natural vege- businesses rather than from the “wild.”15
  16. 16. Natural Landscaping SourcebookSupports the natural landscaping component ofthe “green industry”There are many opportunities for creative entre-preneurs in all aspects of natural landscaping.II. ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITSIn many ways, natural landscaping reduces thestress that the “weed-free” lawn places on cleanair, clean water, soil stability and other environ- Deep root systems of native grasses and forbs. Note shal-mental qualities of life. Natural landscaping low root system of conventional blue grass turf at far left.attracts wildlife, such as butterflies and birds, Drawing courtesy of Conservation Research Institute,thus increasing biodiversity. Heidi Natura, 1995.The Biodiversity Recovery Plan, produced byChicago Wilderness, states that natural land- Reduced soil erosionscaping is a way for landowners to increase bio-diversity on their property by creating habitats Natural landscaping has distinct advantagesfor many species, particularly on properties that over conventional turf grasses in stabilizingare adjacent to natural areas, streams, lakes or highly erodible soils. Native plants are particu-wetlands. larly effective on steeply sloped sites, stream banks, and in areas where moving water is pres- ent. The roots of native prairie plants are very dense, fine, and often very deep (in some cases, 5 to 10 feet in mature plants) and hold soil well. By contrast, typical turf grass root systems are only four to six inches deep. Wetland vegetation provides effective soil stabi- lization along streambanks and shorelines by absorbing some of the erosive energy of flowing water and waves. C. strigosus Rattlesnake Master Native vegetation is finding a new use in “bio- engineering” approaches to slope stabilization. 16
  17. 17. Natural Landscaping SourcebookDemonstration projects for streambank andshoreline stabilization, such as along the SkokieRiver in the Chicago Botanic Garden, have suc-cessfully used native plants such as prairie cord-grass and various willow species.Improved water quality Drainage of a site through a natural system, rather than through storm sewers, dramatically reduces pollution lev-Native vegetation in naturalized drainage ways els.enhances the infiltration of contaminatedstormwater. The dense, deep root systems aug- Reduced air pollutionment the permeability of the soil and help theuptake of certain stormwater pollutants. Native Standard lawn maintenance equipment createsvegetation buffers are particularly effective significant amounts of air pollution. Equipmentalong the edges of streams, lakes, and wetlands. such as lawn mowers , chain saws, leaf vacu-They can intercept runoff and subsurface water ums, and other fossil fueled lawn maintenancepollutants from urban and agricultural land equipment emit high levels of carbon monox-uses and construction sites. Emergent and sub- ide, hydrocarbons (VOCs) and nitrogen oxidesmerged wetland vegetation provides an addi- (NOx), which contribute to the formation oftional benefit along the edges of lakes and ground level ozone (smog), toxins and otherstreams by serving as a growing surface for particulates. The USEPA estimates that a gaso-microorganisms. These microorganisms break line powered lawn mower emits 11 times the airdown certain pollutants thereby reducing their pollution of a new car for each hour of opera-harmful effects. tion. Gasoline lawn and power equipment, on average, produce 5 percent of “smog”- formingAn additional benefit of native vegetation land- VOCs in nonattainment areas (such as thescaping is its ability to thrive without fertilizers, northeastern Illinois region). Smog is a noxiousor heavy use of pesticides and herbicides. Turf irritant which impairs lung function and inhibitsgrass and other conventional landscapes are plant growth. In addition, the “driver” of suchheavily dependent on chemical applications, equipment is typically positioned where expo-and the excess chemicals inevitably find their sure to such carbon monoxide and toxic emis-way into our waterways where they cause sions is greatest.excessive plant growth and toxicity to fish andother aquatic organisms. Small gasoline spills evaporate and pollute the air as well. The USEPA estimates that every17
  18. 18. Natural Landscaping Sourcebooksummer, the few ounces spilled during each Energy Conservationrefueling of lawn and garden equipment addsup to 17,000,000 gallons of gasoline nationwide. Windbreaks on the north and west sides of buildings reduce winter heating costs. In theNatural landscaping can significantly reduce the summer, trees and other vegetation make non-need for fossil fueled lawn and garden equip- air-conditioned buildings more comfortable andment and this reduces the associated air pollu- reduce energy costs for air-conditioned build-tion and health risks. In addition, the native ings.plants themselves can help to improve air quali-ty by reducing particulates and gaseous air pol-lutants. The Clean Air Counts campaign statesthat for every 1,000 acres of natural landscaping,50 tons of VOCs and 5 tons of NOx are avoidedper year.Reduced noise pollutionNoise from lawn and gardening equipment hasbecome a source of increasing dissatisfaction in Planting of vegetation improves climatological conditions.some communities. The installation of naturallandscaping reduces the use of this equipment. Reduced greenhouse effect Natural vegetation can help to combat globalClimatological benefits climate change (the “greenhouse effect”) byTrees and other vegetation benefit the climate on removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmos-three levels: human comfort, energy conserva- phere. Plants remove CO2 from the atmospheretion, and urban climates. and store the carbon in the body of the plant, the root system and the soil.Human comfort Planting native plants can facilitate this CO2Plants intercept infrared radiation directly by removal. The soils beneath the tallgrass prairieproviding shade and indirectly by covering sur- can contain an immense amount of organic mat-faces that reflect or reradiate solar energy. Trees ter and nitrogen. Studies have indicated thatand shrubs can channel air movement. Moving temperate prairie grasslands are superior soilair feels cooler. In the winter, windbreaks reduce carbon sinks when compared to forests of simi-the wind chill factor. lar climate. It is the combination of fire, plants, 18
  19. 19. Natural Landscaping Sourcebookroot depth distributions and microbes that pro- factors relating to the ability of a site to provideduce the large amount of soil carbon. the conditions required by specific plant and animal species. Site planning for natural land-Habitat restoration and protection scaping should strive to preserve existing wildlife habitats.Due to extensive urban and agricultural devel-opment, high quality natural communities cover As part of planning natural landscaping, it isonly .07% of Illinois’ land and water, according desirable to complete an inventory of plant andto the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory. With the animal species currently using the site be taken.decrease in habitats, many plants and animals Where desirable species are already using thehave lost the special conditions and require- site for nesting, phasing in a project by keepingments they need for their survival. enough habitat to protect those species should be considered before forging ahead withNatural landscaping plays a part in attracting replanting the entire site.native animals and re-establishing the naturalcycles within which they thrive. In addition, Canada geese have become pests in many citynatural landscaping can be used to create and suburban locations where there are turfbuffers which reduce urban stresses and prox- grass lawns in proximity to open water. A bufferimity of exotic species to high quality natural of thick and tall native plantings around theareas. waterbody will discourage geese from grazing, especially during the growing season when theWhen a site is adjacent to a natural area, special plants are taller.care must be taken when considering plantselection. Certain plant species can become inva-sive and disturb the natural area. It is advisableto treat the landscaped area as an extension ofthe natural area.Native insects, including butterflies and moths,attract a wide array of songbirds, who eat theinsects and the plant seeds. If a restored prairieis large enough, it might attract nesting grass-land birds such as meadowlarks and bobolinks,birds whose habitat is decreasing in most partsof their range in the state. The degree of habitat Conservation buffers can help protect wildlife habitatvalue in natural landscaping depends on many in a development. (Shaw, et. al., 1986.)19
  20. 20. Natural Landscaping SourcebookBeautification and forest preserve districts are critical entities for bringing natural landscaping into the publicThough it is difficult to quantify, beautification eye. This can be done through educational pro-is an important reason, sometimes the funda- grams such as nature walks and talks, exhibits,mental reason, for natural landscaping. Many and volunteer days sponsored by the abovepeople living or working in natural landscapes organizations. These opportunities provide pos-appreciate the various textures, colors and itive examples of public land management andshapes of native plants and the dramatic pro- increase the awareness and understanding ofgression of hues throughout the seasons. the public about the community which theyWildlife, especially the birds and butterflies reside.attracted to the plants, also enhance the aesthet-ic appeal of natural landscaping.III. EDUCATIONAL AND RECREATIONAL BENEFITSThere is an old saying:“People will only conserve what they love; that theywill only love what they understand; and they willonly understand what they are taught.”Natural landscaping may not be the only way todemonstrate this old adage, but it is a powerful Passive recreation opportunitiesinstrument in our tool kit for the future. Natural landscapes provide recreational oppor-Conservation education tunities such as bird watching and photography. The diverse colors, shapes, sounds, textures,Natural landscaping puts people in touch with a odors, and tastes found in the natural environ-variety of beautiful plants, and native plantings ment provide the observer with sensory experi-enhance the sense of being in a unique and spe- ences not found in more sterile, traditional land-cial place. This familiarity can strengthen com- scapes. Nature offers both tranquility andmunity support for habitat preservation and excitement. It can serve as a place to relax, arestoration, environmental protection, and open place of diversity and excitement. Incorporatingspace acquisition. native landscaping throughout the community offers the opportunity for children to experienceMunicipalities, school districts, park districts, and learn from nature in their own yard and 20
  21. 21. Natural Landscaping Sourcebookcommunity. nities for grade school, high school, and com- munity college students to study nature andEnhanced regional recreational corridors carry out their own research close to home. FICTION AND FACT ABOUT NATURAL LANDSCAPESPopular recreational activities such as walking,running, bicycling and skating are increasingly Fiction: They attract rats.accommodated by local and regional trails and Fact: Rats are not attracted to natural landscapes.greenways. Natural landscaping in greenways They live primarily in man-made structures andcan help create new attractive recreation areas, eat garbage.rejuvenate others, and provide connecting corri-dors. Fiction: They breed mosquitoes. Fact: Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Prairies & other natural landscapes absorb more water than conventional lawn, thereby reducing the amount of runoff & standing water. Natural land- scapes also increase the populations of mosquito predators, such as birds. Fiction: They present a fire hazard. Fact: Properly managed natural landscapes do not present more of a fire hazard than any other type of landscape.Photo courtesy of the Lake County Forest Preserve Fiction: They increase pollen & hay fever.District Fact: All flowering plants produce pollen. TheScientific Study most offensive allergens are ragweeds, not plants like goldenrod which are often used in naturalNatural landscapes provide scientists (and ama- plantings.teur observers) with numerous opportunities forstudy. Research can lead to improved propaga- Fiction: They lower property values.tion techniques in urban settings and improved Fact: Property values are a function of public per-availability of plant materials. Scientific study ception. As natural landscaping has become morecan assess the impacts of urban development on accepted, and where it is done well, it is seen asnative species and the benefits of introducing an asset.native species on plant, animal and human com- Source: Adapted from “To Mow or Grow” by Bretmunities. Natural greenways provide opportu- Rappaport in Wildflower, Spring 1996.21
  22. 22. Natural Landscaping SourcebookFor more information about greenways:Northeastern Illinois Regional Greenways Plan.Northeastern Illinois PlanningCommission/Openlands Project: 1992. UpdatedJune 1997.For more information about biodiversity:The Biodiversity Recovery Plan. ChicagoWilderness: 1999. Available athttp://www.chicagowilderness.org/pubprod/brp/index.cfm 22
  23. 23. Natural Landscaping Sourcebook CHAPTER 3: WHAT * Make someone on staff responsible for landscape issues and provide training opportunities relat- ARE THE POTENTIAL ing to natural landscaping. ROLES FOR LOCAL * Develop a multi-year program for retrofitting nat- ural landscaping on existing sites. GOVERNMENT? * Use in-house landscape staff or outside profes- I. Opportunities for sionals to develop plans for new and existing sites. Government Leadership * Develop policies and specifications for new site II. Regulatory Issues planning to encourage the use of natural land- scaping.Nodding Wild Onion * Utilize natural landscaping, especially to remedy situations where traditional turf landscaping is causing difficulties (e.g., eroding gullies orThe officials of local governments, including stream channels).cities and villages, counties, park districts, con-servation and forest preserve districts, and sani- Develop a local policy and a legal frameworktary and school districts can promote and bene-fit from the use of natural landscaping. Adopt or modify local codes and ordinances in order to facilitate the use of natural landscapingLocal officials can play an important role in the on private property. Modify municipal proce-encouragement of natural landscaping through- dures (e.g., planning, public works, public safe-out northeastern Illinois by using such practices ty, recreation) to accommodate natural land-on public lands, promoting natural landscaping scaping:through public policy, sponsoring demonstra- * Review and amend or replace the local weedtion projects and educating the public on the ordinance so that it encourages natural land-benefits of natural landscaping. scaping. * Adopt a natural landscape ordinance.I. WHAT ARE THE OPPORTUNITIES FOR GOVERNMENT * Amend subdivision regulations and other ordi-LEADERSHIP? nances that govern landscaping of development sites in order to accommodate and encourage natural landscaping. In particular, amendLandscape public properties “naturally” drainage code language that mandates storm sewers to the exclusion of vegetated swales and filter strips.Provide leadership by increasing the use of nat-ural landscaping on public properties, including * Develop and adopt fire department procedures for permitting and overseeing prescribed burnsstreetscapes:23
  24. 24. Natural Landscaping Sourcebook of natural areas; inform the public of these asked questions, and sources of other important requirements. information); local libraries and park districts are obvious providers of such information. * Include natural landscaping goals and policies in comprehensive plans. * Include articles on natural landscaping in the community newsletter. * Designate greenways in comprehensive plans, land use plans and park plans. * Conduct a public relations program in conjunc- tion with natural landscaping on public proper- * Require natural landscaping for stormwater facili- ty; this could involve local radio and TV stations, ties and stream, lake and wetland buffers. as well as the print media.Promote demonstration projects II. WHAT ARE THE REGULATORY ISSUES?Work with school districts, park districts, forestpreserve and conservation districts, state and Weed regulationsfederal agencies, chambers of commerce, resi-dents and environmental groups to support Due to their competitive nature, “noxious” anddemonstration projects and other educational “exotic” weeds can be a problem with respect toefforts that will encourage the use of natural preserving and restoring native plants. “Exotic”landscaping: is a term used to describe species that originate from a different geographic area. Some species * Appoint a public/private task force or commis- sion to develop recommendations for furthering can become invasive and spread throughout an higher standards of landscaping within the com- area, eliminating other species. Exotic species munity. are especially prone to becoming invasive, since * Promote lectures, slide shows, field trips, work- there are no natural predators or barriers to curb shops, exhibits and other special events that help their growth. to educate all groups of citizens about natural landscaping. States have established laws to control the fur- * Work with neighborhood groups to develop ther spread of some of these problem plants, guidelines that will promote distinctive land- and it is illegal for nurseries to sell many of scapes within selected neighborhoods. them. Local extension services, arboretums, or landscape professionals and naturalists areProvide educational materials and information available to help identify any possible existing invasive species, and make recommendationsInform the general public of the methods and for removal.benefits of natural landscaping: * Provide informative materials on natural land- scaping (including plant lists, answers to often 24
  25. 25. Natural Landscaping SourcebookIllinois Noxious Weed Law ious weeds.The Illinois Noxious Weed Law (505 ILCS 100/1) Illinois Exotic Weed Actis intended to control weeds that are a problemto agriculture, and enforcement of the law is Another law that addresses weeds is the Illinoisassigned to the Illinois Department of Exotic Weed Act of 1972 (525 ILCS 10). This ActAgriculture. The list of noxious weeds is deter- tries to avoid spreading non-native invasivemined by Director of the Department of plants that degrade natural plant communities,Agriculture, the Dean of the College of reduce the value of fish and wildlife habitat, orAgriculture of the University of Illinois, and the threaten Illinois endangered or threatenedDirector of the Agricultural Experiment Station species. The Act prohibits the buying, selling,at the University of Illinois. distributing, or planting of seeds or plants of designated exotic weeds.The list of official noxious weeds, updated in2002, includes: Designated exotic weeds include:- marijuana - Canada thistle - Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)- giant ragweed - perennial sow thistle - Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora)- common ragweed - musk thistle - Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)- kudzu - perennial members of the sorghym genus In 2003, the Illinois Exotic Weed Act was amend- ed to include kudzu and invasive species ofCounty boards are defined as the “control buckthorn. The buckthorn species are commonauthorities” for weed control operating under buckthorn, glossy buckthorn, dahurian buck-rules established by the Department of thorn, saw-toothed buckthorn, Japanese buck-Agriculture. Land owners are responsible for thorn and Chinese buckthorn.controlling noxious weeds on their property.The control authority can issue notices for such Similar laws exist in Wisconsin and Indiana.control in order to require compliance. A site plan for natural landscaping may necessi-Local officials could work with county govern- tate the removal of both noxious and exoticment and the Illinois Department of Agriculture weeds.in identifying and eradicating infestations ofnoxious weeds. Volunteer stewards working Municipal Weed Ordinances:with conservation organizations often have Municipal weed laws have sometimes becomeexperience in the techniques for removing nox- the “lightning rod” for controversy associated25
  26. 26. Natural Landscaping Sourcebookwith natural landscaping. Communities adopt majority of neighbors.weed laws in order to prevent unsightlinessfrom poor property maintenance and to prevent Improved Weed Lawshazards from vermin and fire, which werebelieved to be caused by unkempt vegetation. More recently enacted weed laws allow naturalThe drafting of such laws usually occurred prior landscaping “by right” without case by caseto or without knowledge of natural plant com- neighbor or city permission. There are threemunities. Weed laws, if not carefully worded, main approaches to crafting or modifying acan equate natural landscaping with unman- weed law:aged landscapes. In fact, natural landscaping is * Require a setback.managed and does not pose the hazards that * Include broadly worded exceptions for nat-weed laws are intended to address. ural landscaping.Community and neighborhood sentiment * Encourage natural landscaping.regarding aesthetics and appearance has some- Require a setback - Weed laws have traditional-times led citizens to look to weed laws as a way ly regulated height. For example, weedsof opposing natural landscaping. Courts have exceeding 10 inches in height may not be per-determined that concerns about natural land- mitted. The newer and more sophisticatedscapes, including vermin, fire hazards, mosqui- weed laws address the appearance issue bytoes, and allergies are unfounded. A well-crafted requiring that a setback or buffer strip on theordinance, coupled with public education illus- periphery of the property be maintained at atrating the benefits of natural landscaping, maximum height (such as 12 inches). Vegetationshould be adequate to provide a local frame- behind the setback and within the yard is unreg-work to support natural landscaping. ulated except for control of listed noxiousMunicipalities have responded to the natural weeds.landscaping movement and weed laws in vari- Setback distances depend on the type of com-ous ways. munity and size of the typical lot. Communities with homes on large lots could have as much asPermissive Approach a twenty-foot setback, while in towns withMadison, Wisconsin was among the first com- smaller lots, a two- or three-foot setback wouldmunities to encourage natural landscaping by be more suitable.taking a permitting approach. The ordinance Setback laws have several advantages and rep-requires homeowners to file an application for resent a workable compromise between thenatural landscaping and obtain approval from a sometimes diverse interests of the village, natu- 26
  27. 27. Natural Landscaping Sourcebookral landscapers and neighbors. Primarily, set- tual stabilization of soil fertility through the useback ordinances allow for the unregulated of various plant species.growing of vegetation on a majority of the lot.Like a frame around an abstract painting, the Governmental programs - any federal, state orsetback around the perimeter of a natural area local programs which require the unimpairedcreates a tended look that satisfies neighbor and growth of plants during a majority or all of thevillage concerns of conformity and aesthetics. growing season.The yard takes on its intended look. A setback Educational programs - any areas designated foralso solves the practical problems caused by educational studies.large plants and grasses lopping over intoneighbor yards or across sidewalks. The setback Cultivation - any plant species or group of plantordinances are also easy to understand and species native or introduced and grown for con-enforce. Both the village and the natural land- sumption, pleasure or business reasons.scaper benefit from a clear and simple law.Neighbor complaints are generally satisfied by Biological control - the planting of a particularsuch compromise and living in a community plant species or group of species which willmakes compromise essential. effectively out-compete and replace a noxious or troublesome weed species without additionalA reasonable exception to setback requirements soil disturbance of the site.is where adjacent landowners mutually agree tocontinuous natural landscaping across adjacent Parks and open space - any and all public parksproperty lines. and open space lands whether under the juris- diction of federal, state, or local agencies includ-Include broadly worded exceptions in the ing private conservation/preservation organiza-weed ordinance for beneficial landscapes - tions.These exceptions may include the following: Stormwater Control – the use of natural landscap-Native plantings - the use of native plant species ing to convey and store stormwater run-off.for aesthetic and/or wildlife reasons Wooded areas - all areas that are predominantlyWildlife plantings -the use of native and/or intro- wooded.duced plant species to attract and aid wildlife Encourage natural landscaping - This approachErosion control - to offset and control any soil promotes the use of natural landscaping in itsloss problems both occurring and predicted. broadest sense.Soil fertility building - the enrichment and even- Long Grove, Illinois is a good example of a com-27
  28. 28. Natural Landscaping Sourcebookmunity that embodies this policy. Long Grove nity may want to try a pilot program directedhas no law regulating vegetation height. The vil- within a selected neighborhood, pertaining tolage requires developers to include scenic ease- particular land uses such as campus-style uses,ments, at least one hundred feet deep and plant- or targeted towards less visible locations oned with native plants, wildflowers and grasses sites. See Appendix 6 for additional informa-between the homes and major streets in their tion and sample ordinance language.subdivisions. Large portions of the town aredesignated natural areas as determined by a sci-entific ecological survey. Long Grove employs a (This section draws heavily from the John Marshallnaturalist to advise developers and homeowners Law Review, Volume 26, Number 4, Summer 1993,on how to cultivate and maintain natural land- written by Bret Rappaport.)scapes. Long Grove sells native plants and seedmixes to residents and has a committee thatreviews prairie restoration projects within thevillage.Schaumburg, Illinois, created its own biodiversi-ty recovery plan for the village. To implementthe plan, the Board amended the municipalcode with an ordinance for biodiversity regula- Black Oaktions. The ordinance requires environmentallybeneficial landscaping and sustainable develop-ment practices. For more information about updating local ordi-Fort Collins, Colorado employs a full time nances:wildlife biologist and has a ten acre nature pre- Conservation Design Resource Manual,serve in the heart of downtown on land that Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission:used to be a formal park. There is a city pro- 2003.gram to identify and certify homeowner’s back-yard wildlife habitats. To receive this certifica- Available attion, homeowners must let nature reclaim their http://www.chicagowilderness.org/pubprod/misnon-native lawns. Hundred of citizens partici- cpdf/CD_Resource_Manual.pdfpate in the program.There are many variations that can be devel-oped to respond to local conditions. A commu- 28
  29. 29. Natural Landscaping Sourcebook CHAPTER 4: THE larger scale projects include corporate campus- es, university lands and large community parks. “HOW TO” OF NATUR - AL LANDSCAPING I. ETHICS OF USING NATIVE PLANTS Regardless of the scope or goals of your project, I. Ethics of Using Native an important ethical consideration is the acquisi- Plants tion seeds or plugs from a reputable supplier. It II. Developing an Approach is inappropriate for amateur gardeners or pro- fessionals to collect seeds or plants from “the Arrowhead III. Natural Landscaping on a wild,” except by permission of the owner or as Small Scale part of a restoration program.IV. Natural Landscaping on a Large ScaleV. Considerations for Installation Collection of too many plants or seeds can seri- ously reduce the ability of the plundered site toVI. Savanna and Woodlands replenish itself. Seed collecting ethics are rigor-VII. Wetland and Lakeshore Stream Habitats ously followed by volunteer groups working with forest preserve districts, owners of naturalVIII. Natural Landscaping for Stormwater sites, and professionals in the nursery business.ManagementDesigning, installing and managing natural II. DEVELOPING AN APPROACHlandscaping projects will vary in complexity andapproach depending upon the nature of the site Planning, even if informal, is a fundamentaland the project goals. There are different ingredient for a successful natural landscapingdegrees of natural landscaping, ranging all the project. The greater the ambition or the shorterway from a small native flower patch, to a full- the timetable, the more planning and technicalscale replication of a plant community covering expertise will be required. A starting point formany acres. An otherwise traditionally land- any natural landscaping project is to analyze thescaped site may be installed with a “natural” current amenities, opportunities and limitationsstormwater pond with a fringe of native wet- of your site and articulate reasonable goals.land plants and upland buffer to trap sediment. A basic underpinning for any natural landscap-Larger projects have the most at stake, financial- ing project would be an understanding of cur-ly and visually. They require a detailed and rent soil conditions. This knowledge will assisttechnical planning process. Some examples of you with your decision about what you can29
  30. 30. Natural Landscaping Sourcebookplant where, since soil conditions can vary dra- look at alternative plants.matically across a site. Some plants thrive in * Are professional assistance and field labor avail-dry soil conditions, and others require wet soil able at appropriate skill levels to undertake andconditions in order to thrive. A soil scientist, maintain a complex project?such as your local agent from the U.S. * What sources of labor are available for installa-Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources tion and follow-up stewardship?Conservation Service (formerly the Soil * What are the local government regulationsConservation Service) can tell you the type of affecting the use and ongoing management ofsoil that you have and the kind of material from natural landscaping? Regulations may affect the location of natural landscaping on the site andwhich it was derived. The more a project is ori- the types of plants used. You need to know localented towards restoration, the more it must take weed ordinances and/or fire regulations beforefactors such as particular soil conditions into proceeding.account. * What is the project’s relationship to adjacent properties? Being a good neighbor is important,Prairie, woodland/savanna, and wetland/ripari- so a consideration of adjacent land uses is criti-an projects have different requirements and will cal. Natural landscaping adjacent to existing nat-be treated separately in this chapter, although ural open space is obviously much easier than the first introduction into a conventional turfall could exist on one site. In addition, this chap- subdivision. Educating adjacent landownerster will discuss how to address stormwater prior to installation is a valuable endeavor.management using natural landscaping inte- Taking the longer view and adopting a willing-grated into a project’s overall design. ness to phase in a project over a few years might be the pragmatic thing to do. It is quite possible, however, that the newly natural landscape willThe complexity of any natural landscaping proj- be so attractive that adjacent property ownersect will be determined by a variety of considera- will want to follow suit.tions. * Do any nearby or adjacent ecological restoration * Is this a small scale project with very limited projects suggest a rationale for installing natural budget and limited access to technical services? landscaping or have a physical linkage? Or is it a large, well-funded project intended to achieve complex ecological restoration objec- III. NATURAL LANDSCAPING ON A SMALL SCALE tives? * Do you know your soil types, the kind of vege- Many homeowners are looking for an alterna- tative community that is appropriate for your tive to the continuing efforts necessary to main- site, and your growing season sun and shade tain the bluegrass lawn. They are particularly patterns? uncomfortable with the application of costly * Does the vision for the project require the use of chemical herbicides and fertilizers. The shift to a plants that are “fussy” about soil, drainage and more natural, environmentally friendly yard other conditions? If so, prudence might dictate a 30
  31. 31. Natural Landscaping Sourcebookwith groundcovers, shrubs, grasses and colorful years according to changing conditions of sunforbs is an inviting alternative. and shade. An ecologist who has tended a natu- ral garden in Park Ridge for over 30 years findsIndividuals about to undertake the transition of that a garden flows like a river; it is ever-chang-a turf lawn to a natural landscape will find ing.many helpful resource books in libraries and inlarger or specialty bookstores. In addition, local In the natural perennial garden, treasured senti-restoration organizations such as the North mental favorites, even exotics, can thrive inter-Branch Restoration Project in the Chicago mixed with native plants to create an aestheti-region, regional nurseries devoted exclusively to cally and personally rewarding landscape.native stock, local nurseries that are enlarging Gardeners can even try incorporating foodtheir selection of native plants, and professional plants, such as herbs and tomatoes. They canlandscape architects who “design with nature” also create a “rain garden” by directing theirwill readily share their knowledge. downspout to a depression planted with native wetland plants.Homeowners can volunteer with restorationorganizations to grow native plants in their It is tempting to begin with quick-spreadingyards and harvest them, and beautify their ground covers and perennials in order to makeyards in the process. It is important, however, a beautiful display at the start and prevent soilthat plants producing seeds intended for erosion. Showy plants such as the exotic, early-restoration grow in separate areas from those blooming dame’s rocket, and later-bloomingpurchased at nurseries, because it is necessary to native black-eyed susans and purple coneflow-keep the native stock to be used for restoration ers can be used to brighten a garden reliably in“pure.” its first year. However, it is important to avoid the trap of starting with extremely aggressiveHomeowners and owners of small sites who perennials and groundcovers that will thenenjoy “digging in the dirt” may find the gradual require much time and effort to dislodge.approach to converting their lawns a less expen-sive alternative than a one-time project using a In the first year, generous mulching will keepprofessional designer and installer. With this precious water in the soil and deter weeds andgradual approach comes the delight of experi- erosion. Eventually, the native flowers andmentation with plants and their habitats. In grasses should outcompete the non-natives,addition, the maturing converted gardens can which are not so well adapted to the Midwestserve as plant nurseries for newly dug beds. climate.Plants will teach the gardener where they like togrow and will relocate themselves over the31
  32. 32. Natural Landscaping Sourcebook management) to accomplish the goals and objec- tives; * design a monitoring program to assess project performance; * implement the project (installation on the site); * manage the project; * evaluate the project and report on its progress. Reputable and experienced guidance is the best insurance for a successful restoration program, whether from a staff manager, consulting ecolo- gist, or other source. V. CONSIDERATIONS FOR INSTALLATION Prairie Vegetation Prairies are open “grasslands”which are fire-cli- max communities. Historically, whether fires were started by lightning or by man, they beatIV. NATURAL LANDSCAPING ON A LARGE SCALE back any trees and large shrubs which tried to grow and kept them at a low shrubby stage.Natural landscaping on medium to larger sitesrequires considerable advance planning because Prairies are dominated by perennial grasses andof the size of the initial investment and the cost forbs. Soil type and hydrology are probably theimplications of making serious mistakes. A rig- primary determinants of different species com-orous program would include the following position on the prairie.tasks, undertaken with the assistance of a quali-fied professional: Site preparation: removal of existing undesirable * inventory ecological resources, current site condi- vegetation tions and potential for restoration; The primary methods of preparing the site * study site history and review technical literature; include: burning, baking under black plastic, * develop goals and objectives for the overall proj- herbicides, tillage, and removal by hand. Local ect (and subareas of the site, as appropriate) conditions and personnel considerations may * develop a plan (site design, installation, and call for flexibility and creative approaches. Site 32
  33. 33. Natural Landscaping Sourcebookconditions throughout the region have been sodisturbed that successful approaches on onesite, or one portion of a site, may not work onothers.Often techniques are used in combination. For Butterfly Weed Purple Prairie Clover Coneflowersmall areas where appearance is not a factor,covering an area with black plastic for a grow-ing season is a very environmentally safe Site preparation and control of weeds are themethod of killing turfgrass and other vegetation. most important steps in the restoration process.This is not as practical with large sites. Here Procuring seeds and plants:herbicide treatments may need to be conductedtwice: once following an initial burn to remove Seeds and plants can be acquired from manylitter and duff, and then several weeks later to specialized nurseries. (See Appendix 4.) It iseliminate any germinating or resprouting unde- most desirable to use local genetic stock fromsirable plants. Use a low toxicity, non-persistent seed collected and propagated within a 150-200herbicide. mile radius. (Some restorationists recommend a 15 mile maximum radius.) The seed should beBurning can occur early in the season at a time cleaned, should meet high quality seed testof low moisture. Tilling can occur as soon as requirements, and should be accurately labeled.soils thaw in the spring. It makes strategic Locally collected seeds are also useful, (notesense to till after existing vegetation has germi- ethics discussion earlier), but quality controlnated or sprouted in order to expose it to the may be a problem if the seeds are not cleanedstress effects of tilling and warmer weather. and tested. More than one project has failed orTillage can bring weed seeds to the soil’s surface been seriously delayed because of poor qualityand create a longer-term weed problem. Where seed. Seeds are most economical for larger proj-tillage is used, carefully timed repetition over ects, while plants provide quicker results at aseveral months, or even for an entire growing higher cost. A larger project can include strategi-season, has been used to control weeds. Cover cally placed plantings in combination with larg-crops may be used in-between tillage events to er seeded areas.stabilize soils. Cover crops can include annual Highest priority should be given to creating arye grass, barley, oats, and other annual species matrix of native grasses. Prairie forbs can bethat grow quickly. installed with the prairie grasses or introduced later. Some restorationists introduce special blends of pioneer grasses and forbs at the begin-33
  34. 34. Natural Landscaping Sourcebookning and add carefully chosen matrices of more tion and early growth. Straw, mulches, or alter-conservative plants over the years as the prairie natively, cover crops including oats, barley, etc.,matures. One common strategy is to include can be seeded simultaneously with the prairievery colorful prairie plants such as black-eyed seeds and plants to provide protection againstsusans in the beginning. These may be short erosion and desiccation, and also to control sub-lived but will provide a highly visible, colorful sequent weed germination. Cover crop seedingand very positive initial impression. rates should be light to moderate so they do not compete with developing seedlings.Planting: The cost of installation can be reduced by usingPlanting is largely a late fall or early spring volunteers who are often eager to be stewardsactivity. Planting in very hot and dry summer and learn about natural landscaping.conditions may delay germination and growthor require irrigation. Irrigation of seeded areas, Initial management:however, is usually not mandatory as nativespecies will usually germinate when conditions After cover crops (and some inevitable weeds)are most appropriate. However, as with any reach a height of 1-2 feet, usually by late June ofplanting, watering may be necessary to help a the first year of planting, mow the planting to aplanting that has already germinated but is in height of no lower than 6-8 inches. Use a rotaryearly vulnerable growth stages when a drought mower that does not leave thick mats of clip-or heat wave begins. An effective mulching sys- pings, which smother young prairie seedlings.tem can usually address moisture retention and Noxious weeds such as thistles may need extragreatly help a young planting. As with any attention. Hand removal or direct applicationlarge scale agricultural activity, however nature by wick treatment with herbicides may be suffi-can wreak havoc on even the best planned proj- cient.ect. Follow-up maintenance:Sowing can be accomplished by use of tractors Occasional mowing may be necessary for 2-3and appropriate drills or broadcasters on larger years to keep weeds down and prevent themprojects while hand broadcasting can often be from suppressing young prairie plants. There isused in smaller projects. Native plants are no prescribed season or number of times forinstalled the same way as any other potted or mowing, but weather will be an important fac-bare root stock by digging a hole large enough tor in growth of the newly planted prairie andso it will not constrict root systems. Mulching is will affect the mowing schedule. The services ofoften necessary to ameliorate soil and moisture a qualified professional will be invaluable inconditions and ensure successful seed germina- decision making about maintenance during the 34
  35. 35. Natural Landscaping Sourcebookfirst years. In the spring following the first year Strategies for Being a Good Neighbor withof planting, prescribed burning can be used to Natural Landscaping:begin the maintenance process. Noxious weedmanagement may also be needed at this time. Conflicts with neighbors can be avoided by fol- lowing a few simple rules:Routine maintenance will primarily involve use 1. Create a border of lawn, hedge, fence,of prescribed burning. Prescribed burns can be path, etc. to frame the natural landscape.conducted anytime plant fuel is combustible. 2. Recognize the rights of property ownersHowever, late spring and early to mid-summer to be different; don’t be arrogant about yourburns, alternated with fall burns, have been very native plantings.useful. Do not be reluctant to burn annually if 3. Advertise by educating neighbors aboutnecessary to accelerate the rate of performance what to expect before you start your proj-of the prairie during the first 4-6 years. ect. 4. Start small to develop your learningWhat to expect for the first 5 years curve and minimize the rate of change for neighbors.Expect cover crops and weeds during years 1-3as the prevailing vegetation. Usually, in years 3- 5. Humanize your landscape with human touches, such as places to sit, bird houses,5, native grasses and a series of early succession- etc. in order to maximize enjoyment andal native flowers (e.g., black-eyed susan and yel- link people with the landscape.low coneflower) will dominate. Depending on Adapted from: To Mow or Grow,” by Bret Rappaport inthe species mix, prairie restorations usually Wildflower, Spring, 1996.become better, more diverse, and more aestheticwith time. Uniform mowing maintenance asdescribed above not only helps the prairiedevelop but also improves public relations dur-ing the first couple of years of establishment. Spotted Joe Pye Weed Purple Joe Pye Weed35
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