Field Notes

  • Capturing stormwater and utilizing it as a design feature
  • Edible landscaping and drought-tolerant, regionally appropriate plantings
  • Use of salvaged and reused materials in construction of the site
  • A commitment to sustainable and organic maintenance practices

SITES is a partnership of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center of The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden. It was created in 2005 to fill a critical need for guidelines and recognition of sustainable landscapes based on their planning, design, construction and maintenance. The voluntary, national rating system and set of performance benchmarks applies to sites with or without buildings.


Word On The Web

On “When the Fountain Runs Dry,” July 20 Week-Ender blog post:

Most recently, I was involved in a similar project—a roundabout with a water feature—that saw the client reconsider and look for an alternative design (before it ever was constructed). When discussed in more detail, we expressed our opinion that the long-term and ongoing maintenance of such a feature would become a nagging liability.

Rarely do we specify water features in projects geared more towards addressing non-pedestrian needs. Water features may be appropriate for more intimate pedestrian areas—plazas, patios, courtyards, restaurants, residential—and locations where vandalism and mischief are expected to be less opportune (thus lessening the “suds in the bucket” temptation). It is these applications where we start “playing in the water”.

Tim May

Teague, Nall & Perkins

Fort Worth, Texas


Consider Soil Inoculants For Winter

Throughout growing seasons, many individuals rely heavily upon chemical fertilizers to keep lawns filled with the necessary nutrients needed for maximal growth. However, many remain unaware to the detrimental effects that fertilizers bring with them, especially when plant growth shuts down for the winter months.

Fertilizers can flood the ground with more nutrients than are necessary, which over time will make the soil hard and compacted. In summer months, this will result in poor absorption of water and nutrients by grass root systems. In winter—when root systems are in states of dormancy—the problem is even more severe. Root systems absorb little to no nutrients at these times, and are susceptible to chemical burn as they sit in a build-up of minerals. As the build-up compounds over time, plant growth weakens, and the chemical fertilizers adversely affect the surrounding environment.

Soil inoculants are naturally occurring microbial bacteria that can be found in healthy soil. When use (or over-use) of chemical fertilizer compacts the soil, normal levels of these microbial bacteria drop drastically over time. These integral, and overlooked, bacteria digest plant and fertilizer residue making a reusable and un-compacted humus layer. Using soil inoculants during times of plant dormancy is the best possible way to organically prepare soil for future growth.

For further information regarding the benefits of soil inoculants, visit


Mesh Handrails Add Sparkle To South Street Bridge

Cambridge, Md.–Residents and businesses around Philadelphia’s South Street neighborhood are enjoying the newly reconstructed South Street Bridge that serves more than 30,000 users in this community of shops, dining and entertainment.

Four glass river towers, which double as scenic overlooks, stand in the Schuylkill River shining color-changing LEDs on to Cambridge architectural handrails. These not only act as fall protection, but reflect the lighting to give the bridge a trendy aesthetic reminiscent of the South Street community it serves. To avoid driver distraction, the LEDs will remain white for the majority of the time.

“Overall, the mesh accentuated the horizontality of the bridge and mitigated the harshness of the structural steel railing,” says Bruce Chamberlin, H2L2 Architects/Planners, LLC, the architects commissioned for the design. “In addition, it gave the bridge a soft glow at night, while maintaining the openness desired by the design team and community.”

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