Feature Article - April 2011
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Maintenance Series: Eco-Friendly

Clean and Green
Eco-Friendlier Maintenance Practices

By Dawn Klingensmith

Take It Outside

An eco-friendly maintenance program extends into the outdoors, where short-sighted landscaping and irrigation practices result in a great deal of waste. When money is tight and eco-friendliness and cost-savings is the goal, neglecting parks and green spaces isn't the answer. Sustainable landscaping in public spaces demonstrates concern for, and commitment to, the local community. Well-maintained parks serve the community better and may inspire neighborhood investment. Well-maintained parks also last longer without additional capital investment.

While landscaping, by definition, is part of the natural environment, it also can be a drain on natural

resources. "The primary concerns are water and power consumption," said Mark Robertson, principal, Mesa Landscape Architects, Little Rock, Ark.

As such, native and drought-tolerant plant species and turf grasses should be specified. Rainwater, soil moisture and air temperature sensors should be used to conserve water, doing away with "a regular watering cycle that is not controlled or coordinated with actual conditions," Robertson added.

Reduce the use of turf grass wherever possible, and use lower-maintenance species where recreational activities call for mown grass. Planting fewer lawns reduces water consumption, fertilizer use, chemical and nutrient loading of groundwater, erosion (because turf grass alternatives have deeper roots) and labor costs. It also eliminates the need for regular mowing, reducing maintenance costs, energy consumption, and air and noise pollution.