Sustainable Practices and Resources for the Landscaping and Lawn Care Industry
In 2011, Irrigation and Green Industry estimated the numbers of landscape contractors in the U.S. to be 35,000 to 38,000, even with an estimated loss of 12.5% of companies from three years ago. And lawn care companies nationwide number 3,500 within the industry. Similar to landscapers, they are diversifying their services (e.g., mowing, tree care, irrigation). Some lawn care companies offer turf topdressing with compost as a new service.
In the last few years being "green" has become popular with the public and landscaping in a sustainable way has become a way of addressing many of the negative effects of development.
What is sustainable landscaping? Sustainable landscaping comprises numerous practices that address environmental issues related to the design, construction, implementation, and management of residential and commercial landscapes. (Source: Sustainable Landscaping)
Below are resources to learn more about new technologies that can help grow your business in sustainable landscaping.What is a rain garden? It is a depression that collects runoff from a roof, driveway or yard and allows it to infiltrate into the ground. Rain gardens are typically planted with shrubs or perennials and can be colorful, landscaped areas in your yard that will also provide important environmental benefits. (Source:NEMO)
- Rain Garden Overview and Design, Michael Dietz, Ph.D., UConn, CT Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO)
- Rain Garden Installation, Rutgers, New Jersey Agriculture Experiment Station
- Plant Selection and Care, Caitrin Higgins, LEED, Rutgers
- Rain Garden and Maintenance, Rutgers, New Jersey Agriculture Experiment Station, Amy Boyajian
- Bioretention Manual, Dept. of Environmental Resource, Prince George's County, MD
- Soil Infiltration Test
- Stormwater and the City, Chet Arnold
Native Plants have adapted to the climate of a geographic area, making them naturally hardy. Wildlife has evolved using them for food, cover and shelter.
- Nurseries in CT and New England that sell native plants
- Invasive Species
- Plant Lists (pdf) - salt tolerant, native plants/xeriscaping, stormwater ponds and wetlands - from Appendix A of the CT Stormwater Water Quality Manual
Organic Land Care means building healthy soil without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers.No synthetic pesticides, including insecticides, fungicides and herbicides;
- What does organic land care mean?
- Learn about Organic Land Care Standards and get accredited through CT Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) courses.
- Organic Land Care for athletic and recreational fields
- Organic Lawn Care for residential lawns
- Grassroots Healthy Lawn Program promotes organic landcare. It is a multi-faceted pesticide reduction program designed to stimulate the supply and demand for natural lawn care among landscapers and homeowners.
Composting and Grasscycling - a 1/2 acre lawn in New England produces over 3 tons or nearly 260 bags of grass clippings each year!
- Comprehensive information from the DEEP compost website about how to compost, sources of compost in CT, resources, videos and more.
- Did you know grass clippings are banned from disposal in CT? Grasscycling - leaving grass clippings on the lawn - can improve your customer's lawns and save you money and time.
Integrated Pest Management or IPM is a systematic method of managing pests using non-chemical pest management methods and the judicious use of pesticides when pest populations exceed acceptable levels.
Below are resources for LID, water conservation and sustainable landscaping materials:
- LID uses a planning process to employ site design techniques to first optimize conservation of natural hydrologic functions to prevent runoff. Learn more about LID Guidelines and Standards (pdf)
- EPA, Low Impact Development
- Low Impact Development Center
- Xeriscape landscapes are defined as "quality landscaping that conserves water and protects the environment." Learn about the seven principles of xeriscaping.
- Find more information about xeriscaping in the CT Stormwater Water Quality Manual, Section 5.4.1 Xeriscaping and General Landscape Management.
- UConn's Cooperative Extension resources on landscape construction helps you choose effective site construction techniques and materials to minimize water pollution.
- Landscape For Life helps you choose materials that are healthier for the environment and your customers and perform as well or better than conventional materials.
Training and Other Resources
- Learn about organic land care standards and training opportunities through NOFA Organic Land Care Accreditation Course. More info.
- Grassroots Healthy Lawn Program offers professional training program and DVD learning tools for landscapers and municipal turf managers.
- Sustainable Landscapes has information on rain gardens, rain harvesting, plant selections, green roofs, permeable pavements and more.
- EPA New England is trying to Soak Up the Rain with a new website for citizens, businesses, and communities about rain gardens, tree planting, rain barrels, permeable pavement, green roofs and more.
- Sustainable Sites Initiative is a program supported by the American Society of Landscape Architects to introduce sustainable standards of practice within a points-based system.
- Ecological Landscaping Association is a nonprofit organization that supports landscape practices that are environmentally safe and beneficial.
- Harvard University shares its experience in transitioning to organic grounds maintenance.
- NEMO (Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials) is a UConn program for local land use officials addressing the relationship of land use to natural resource protection.
- Sustainable Landscaping, The Hidden Impacts of Gardens (pdf) from EPA and Smithsonian Institution's Horticultural Services Division, presents information on the impacts to air, water, land and biodiversity of traditional landscaping and offer alternatives such as using native plants in the landscape.
- Irrigation and Green Industry publication
- 1See BioCycle, Sept. 2011, Vol. 52, No. 9, p. 57, Selling Compost To The Landscape Industry for full article