Discover Ecological Land Care


What Is Ecological Land Care?

ECOLOGICAL LAND CARE IS A METHOD of designing, building and maintaining landscapes that considers the ecology of a site and creates gardens that will conserve natural resources, preserve biodiversity and protect the environment. It draws upon the wisdom of natural systems. With proper design and implementation, a healthy pattern begins to form with each component in the landscape – people, animals, plants, water, soil, insects, and wildlife, all interacting in a sustainable way.

Conservation is an important part of ecological land care. The objectives of an ecological land care professional are to reduce water consumption, preserve water quality, prevent soil erosion, protect biodiversity, diminish the use of toxic pesticides and minimize the use of non-renewable resources. By striving toward these goals, the ecological land care professional can create gardens that are both environmentally responsible, enjoyable to experience and aesthetically pleasing.


Why Go Ecological?

CLIMATE CHANGE HAS BROUGHT US COLDER, SNOWIER WINTERS AND WARMER SUMMERS, INCREASED WEED AND INSECT ACTIVITY, EXTREMES OF RAIN AND DROUGHT, FLOODING, RUNOFF, AND TOPSOIL LOSS.  In reaction, the regulatory environment is also becoming stricter, with watering and pesticide bans, limitations on impervious surfaces to fight urban runoff and restrictions on the use of gas-powered blowers. Ecological land care works with changing natural systems and regulations, developing sustainable landscapes that require minimal inputs and generate minimal waste to create outdoor spaces that are practical, healthy and pretty.

LIVING PLANTS IMPART BEAUTY and grace to our landscapes. Through color, texture, and form, they can sooth or excite us, provide interest, and transform a property into a place with its own unique personality. Landscape plants provide a transition from what is made by people to what is created by nature. They help our homes and other buildings fit into their natural surroundings. Purchasing a plant is like making an investment, for it can increase the value of a property and the well-being of its owner. But, these benefits are not realized if plants become unsightly when riddled with pests or disease. Unhealthy plants degrade the landscape and are costly to replace. Knowing which plant grows best in a given situation can make all the difference between a healthy plant or a struggling plant. Ecological landscaping and gardening methods offer sound choices and practices to promote the healthiest plants possible by selecting plants based upon an analysis of the site, favoring native and regionally propagated plants and cultivars that are disease or pest-resistant, amending planting areas with organic matter if needed, planting at the correct time of year and at the correct depth.

SOIL IS THE FOUNDATION FOR HEALTHY LANDSCAPES and is the foundation for all plant life. One gram of soil contains millions of bacteria, yeasts, molds, fungi and other microbes. These organisms are vital to the natural processes of the environment by recycling nutrients, protecting plants from pests and diseases, and allowing plants to receive nutrients from the soil.  Organic matter in the form of mulch feed the soil microbes, while reducing erosion and compaction and adding to soil porosity and moisture-holding capacity. An ecological approach to healthy soil requires that soil tests are taken to analyze soil composition, texture, pH and fertility.  Organic soil amendments are applied when needed, based on soil test results, to promote long-term soil health and exposed soils and slopes are quickly covered.

CLEAN WATER IS A BASIC REQUIREMENT OF LIFE. Choices we make in our day-to-day activities can help or harm our above – and below – ground water supplies. Water restrictions, expensive irrigation systems, and contaminants that enter the water supply are concerns that can be alleviated through the practice of an ecological approach to land care.

TOXIC PESTICIDES CAN BE ELIMINATED by creating habitats to encourage natural predators such as ladybugs, birds, frogs and lizards to control pests in the garden. While many of the same flowering plants that attract pollinating bees also attract insects that attack common pests, effective pest management requires a holistic approach to design that includes far more than simply growing the right flowers. Ecological pest management merges the principles of garden design and basic ecology to successfully influence the community of beneficial insects that keep pest insects at bay.

NATURAL HABITATS FOR WILDLIFE can harmonize with landscaped areas and attracting wildlife can be an enriching experience. All animals, including humans, have four basic requirements to survive — food, shelter, water and nesting areas for reproduction. When these are in abundance, a rich variety of life can be supported, creating a healthier, more resilient ecosystem for all of us to inhabit. Nuisance animal behavior can be avoided if we provide areas that meet their four basic needs in the outer limits of our properties.

LAWNS ARE WONDERFUL PLACES for playing and entertaining. As a low growing and durable groundcover, grass accepts foot traffic and provides a level playing field.  It can serve as an extension to your living space, especially near a deck or patio. But, because of its high maintenance requirements, the lawn should not be allocated more space than is needed for these activities. The typical North American lawn requires a great deal of money, time and energy to maintain.  Irrigated lawns strain our water supply, while fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides, used to maintain a picture-perfect turf, pollute our groundwater. Large lawns reduce biodiversity by replacing areas for wildlife habitat and forage with “green pavement” which provides neither.  Ecological lawns use native grasses which have longer roots, making them drought-resistant and able to grow well in the warm season. They grow at varying heights and have beautiful seed-heads that provide food for birds and winter interest.