Landscapes for Life

By Susan Littlefield

Would you like to have your garden be more in tune with nature? Are you interested in designing a landscape that not only looks good, but can be maintained with sustainable practices? If so, you can get lots of advice and ideas by visiting Landscape for Life, a new Web site developed by the United States Botanic Garden and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

This site provides information on practical approaches homeowners can use to "green" their gardens based on the principles outlined in SITES, the Sustainable Sites Initiative. This national rating system for sustainable landscapes, first developed for landscape professionals, has been adapted to reflect practices that can be put to use in any home landscape and to explain the potential benefits they provide.

Along with comparisons of conventional and sustainable landscape practices, you'll find information on how to manage water sustainably, nurture healthy soil, select plants and landscape materials with sustainability in mind, limit you exposure to pesticides and VOC pollutants, reduce light pollution and grow a food garden. Checklists are available to help you choose a new house site, plan a new garden or renovate an existing one, and know what to ask when hiring a landscape designer or contractor. The Web content is also available as a downloadable workbook.

As Holly Shimuzu, executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden notes, "Conventional gardens often work against nature. We hope to enlist the power of all those home gardeners who want to give the benefits of nature a helping hand with a regenerative, sustainable garden. What a difference that can make."

For more information on landscapes that give back, go to: Landscape for Life.

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