CLIMATE ACTION  

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change) reported that global climate action must be taken to avoid the current trajectory of an increase of 1.5 degrees Celcius by 2030. Current global consumption of energy and resources puts every community at risk, especially marginalized populations.  We take the evidence presented by the scientific community very seriously and hope to be a positive influence in the way our clients make decisions in their own lives. Even though large-scale efforts seem like the only option, trust in the words of Margaret Mead, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Below is a list of actions that we can begin to implement on a small scale.

Design Opportunities

Bring us on board to assess, explore, and present design opportunities that can leverage your project’s positive environmental contributions.

Build your soil health

World renowned soil scientist Dr. Elaine Ingham explains that climate change can be slowed or even reversed with our efforts put towards building soil health.

 No till practices are encouraged unless dealing with extreme urban sites suffering from deeply compacted soils as a result of heavy machine use.  We know this may sound odd, but this is what happens when you till: soils (containing complex living systems) get brought from beneath the soil surface to new conditions which actively dry out and bake the soil’s microbial contents.  This results in destruction of soil structure, because the once living microbial activity that held the soil clusters together are now dead, leaving you with lifeless tiny soil particles that can easily wash away from stormwater.

  • Adding amendments such as compost (commercially sold as Leafgro) to all areas of land to increase permeability and nutrient availability.
  • Increased permeability can be achieved by vertical mulching with bio-char or hardwood mulch.  Trials have been conducted by Dr. Ray Weil using root vegetables such as radishes to increase permeability of soil structure. 

Order Compost Stickers here!

Make your own compost

The U.S. produces more than 30 percent of the planet’s total waste, though it is home to only 4 percent of the world’s total population.

More than 28% of our trash is compostable and can be easily diverted from the waste stream. [enter footnote]  This presents a convenient opportunity to address poor soil health, which is the #1 reason for most planting failures.  The great news is that soil health and soil structure can be greatly improved by adding compost. 

  • Build compost bins to make harvesting and converting materials easy and beautiful.  Often times, compost bins can be beautifully integrated into the landscape becoming a site asset.
  • Add a kitchen scraps container to your counter for easy access.  While you are at it, decorate your container with our cute compost stickers which offer friendly reminders on what you typically do and don’t compost. [direct folks to the compost sticker page]

https://frontiergroup.org/reports/fg/trash-america

Grow your own food

Americans spend less money on food than almost every other country, just 11 percent of our household spending. We also spend less money on foods consumed at home, more on eating out.

What is also interesting is that reported cases of anxiety and depression are at an all-time high.  Cool thing is growing your own food can offer many benefits: cost savings on fresh foods, production of higher quality foods, improved self esteem from skill learning, and reductions in anxiety and depression.  Scientific studies have now linked improvements in depression and anxiety with physically working with soil.

  • Set aside spaces in the landscape that receives 6-8 hours of full sun for growing vegetables.
  • Integrate berry producing trees and bushes into your landscape

Sources:

https://www.vox.com/2014/7/6/5874499/map-heres-how-much-every-country-spends-on-food

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/antidepressant-microbes-soil.htm

Reduce your lawn footprint

30% of the Nation’s drinking water is used to irrigate lawns.

  • Add clover mixes to your turfgrass to improve soil health, which will mean the turf will need less water.  Clover fixes nitrogen, meaning it naturally adds nitrogen to the soil rather than using synthetic fertilizers that often wash away into the local watershed
  • Replace areas of lawn near the foundation of the home or along the edges of the property with native landscape beds of perennials, wood shrubs, and trees.

Sources:

https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2010/06/04/the-problem-of-lawns/

Taking care of yourself

Mental health affects all of us.  Researchers have found a strong relationship between spending time in nature and the strength of our immune system.

A three day weekend in a forest preserve can boost our natural killer cells on average by 50%.  

With the prevalence of anxiety on the rise and loneliness being more dangerous than obesity and as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, we feel responsible to address mental health through our work.

  • Performing garden tasks like planting a tree, pruning a shrub, or harvesting vegetables are effective mindfulness activities.  These activities can give your brain a break from ruminating emotional thoughts.
  • Working in nature helps you practice patience, build self-esteem, and share the joys of being human.

 

Plant natives

Native plants co-evolved with the insect and animal species that depend on them. These mutual relationships created ecosystem balance. 

We need beneficial insects to keep our ecosystem services in balance.

  • Install plantings that are native to your area and require less supplemental water in the long run.
  • Plant in groupings of 3, 5, 7, 9, 11.  Pollinators are used to bigger groupings in nature.

Source:

http://www.bringingnaturehome.net/

Plant trees

Trees are nature’s magical machine.  They suck carbon out of the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis, sink carbon back into the soil, provide shade.

Source:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/climate-solutions/trillion-tree-reforestation-climate-change-philippines/

Conserve Water / Reduce Runoff

Storm events and periods of droughts are going to only become more intense and unpredictable.  Development practices have altered the natural methods for the earth to manage and maintain ecosystem health.

Modern construction practices require removal of organic matter and alteration of soil structure, i.e. compaction, to control soil stability for buildings and infrastructure surfaces like roads.  This is why sites that have a history of development or alteration, lack desirable soils for growing living things.

  • Install rain barrels or cisterns to harvest rainwater from roofs of buildings or shelters.  
  • Install plantings that are native to your area and require less supplemental water in the long run.  
  • Install permeable hardscaping if hardscaping is desired.
  • Leave no soil bare.  Groundcovers should be used to cover and hold soil together.  Natural mulches such as ground leaves, pine fines, and shredded hardwood are also great for covering soil where plantings are not possible.  The goal here is to keep soil from eroding away in rain storm events. 

Landscape Maintenance

Read this very carefully.  The landscape maintenance industry uses practices that are in direct response to consumer demand, not what nature demands. One could argue that the context of a wild nature area is totally different than that of a residential neighborhood, but to be totally frank, water still needs to move through land, pollinators still need food, soil still needs to be healthy.

 The methods below will save you money and add tremendous environmental value to the land.  

  • Don’t bag grass clippings, unless grass blades are too high and produces clumpy build ups.  Simply let the clipping blow onto the turf and naturally dry, returning nitrogen to the soil.
  • When it is time for leaf removal, use a mower to chop the leaves into smaller pieces and spread throughout your landscape beds as leaf mulch.
  • Try to add new plantings in the Fall or early Spring so they will not need as much water as being planted in the summer.  
  • Avoid the use of synthetic fertilizers or herbicides.  The big issues here are inadvertently killing off beneficial insects and transferring these chemicals into local watersheds via stormwater runoff.   Always consult a professional knowledgeable in sustainable landscape practices for advice.

 

Recycle • Reduce • Reuse

Be conscious about your consumption and your waste.

  • If you are renovating a landscape that you inherited or a landscape that just needs freshening up, consider donating your plant materials to friends, neighbors, community groups, or schools.  Have a designer with conservation landscape knowledge assist you in identifying which species are worth keeping, composting, or throwing away. We don’t want to be spreading invasive species, so this practice must be done carefully and with the guidance of a professional.    
  • If a tree requires removal, consider utilizing the wood for any of the following projects: Hugulkulture, edging for pathways, firewood, log jumpers for nature play