Feature Article - November 2010
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Landscape Solutions

Great Grounds Advice

By Dawn Klingensmith

At its best, landscaping isn't just pretty. It's purposeful, and sometimes political. Sustainable landscaping in public spaces demonstrates concern for, and commitment to, the local community.

With green maintenance strategies in place, including hand-pruning and eschewing pesticides, the Santa Barbara County parks department in California understands and exemplifies landscaping best practices. The Chicago Park District, which launched a PR campaign in defense of dandelions, also gets it.

But though it's true that modern landscaping best practices often emphasize sustainability, they also must take into consideration environmental psychology (the interplay between humans and their environment) and aesthetics.

Here, we show by example some basic, overarching principles and strategies of responsible landscape design and maintenance. We also spotlight three showcase parks that incorporate touchable clouds, a highway overpass, and a floating igloo, respectively. Finally, we present some nontraditional ideas to consider, such as urban agriculture and cement-crack gardens.