Thursday, February 18, 2010

Syllabus and Homework for YOUR Course in Natural Landscaping

Natural Landscaping 101 Self-Study Course

+ Learn what 'native plant' means and the various subtleties of the concept.
+ Learn what plant ecosystems are native to your area. I presume tallgrass prairie in this document, since I landscape in Illinois and Wisconsin, so you will need to adapt for your region.
+ If you live in a tallgrass region, learn about the plant layers of the prairie, savanna, and woodland.
+ Learn about rainwater runoff and how turf grass compares to prairie.
+ Learn the distinctions between 'natural landscaping', 'environmentally sound landscaping', and 'native landscaping'.
+ Learn reasons 'native' is good and non-native is bad.
+ Learn why chemical pesticides (herbicides and insecticides) are bad and also, some exceptions when their use may be justified.
+ Learn the distinction between 'restoration' and 'recreation'.
+ Learn about landscape installation methods and the debate on the merits of various methods.
+ Hike in prairies and woodlands, observing the arrangements and relationships of the plants and the specific species.
+ Find guided tours of natural areas and listen and ask questions.
+ Volunteer at a seed gathering event at a local natural area.
+ Volunteer at an invasives removal event at a local natural area. "Brush cutting" or "buckthorn removal" are a couple such events.
+ Learn what attracts wildlife: Birds, butterflies, bees, other insects, mammals, reptiles, amphibians.
+ Learn about prairie and woodland fire ecology and how to use fire as a maintenance tool.

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