No-Fuss Landscaping

Within an hour of the grand opening, 60 families adopted every row in the garden, and committed to weed their row for at least a year. Driving through the neighborhoods, one can see many of the same roses from the research trial proudly displayed. Residents will also boast to visitors that “their roses” have never been sprayed, fertilized, pruned, or deadheaded, and “their” bushes were only watered three times in 2010!

Pride in this project is contagious.

“Our park crew loves the color and the low-maintenance requirements of the garden. This landscaping approach has given them the tools they need to make their properties showpieces,” says Pam Smith, Landscape Manager.

“That their efforts have kept almost 5,000 yards of tree trimmings out of our landfills and recovered that material to be used as mulch for our planting beds is even more reason for them to be proud. The recycling of plant material into mulch saves taxpayers $18,000 a year!”

And the garden attracts 1,700 visitors a month to the town.

Addison, Texas

“Our involvement with the … program began with the city manager’s emphasis on responsible water use,” explains Slade Strickland, director of Addison’s parks and recreation.

“In 2003, our park department was the town’s largest water consumer with an annual water bill of about $400,000 for 160 irrigated acres. Besides a high water bill, we were incurring tremendous expense for fertilizer, and we had high plant replacement and labor costs to maintain those acres.”

That year, the park department installed an Earth-Kind Rose Trial. The only maintenance provided during the first year was occasional weed control, three mulch applications and watering 12 times. In the second year, irrigation was reduced to once a month during the summer.

“This inexpensive trial yielded great benefits,” boasts Strickland. “Overall, we saw a 70-pecent reduction in water usage. We completely eliminated pesticide applications, reduced labor costs by 50 percent, and eliminated the potential for soil/water contamination. [It] has taught us to be more efficient about how we manage our parks.”

McKinney, Texas

Myers Park is the site of Texas’ first Earth-Kind Perennial Trial, as well as several other research projects studying crape myrtles, roses, vegetables and forage grasses. A 3-year master plan includes additional trial plantings of grasses, herbs, vines, shrubs, groundcovers, turf, a fruit/nut orchard and a vineyard. A rainwater harvesting system was installed by the Collin County Master Gardeners under the leadership of Dr. Greg Church, the county extension agent. The plant groups under study are partially irrigated by capturing rainfall from the roofs of park buildings–a process that does not tax the city’s municipal water supply or its finances.

According to Judy Florence, park manager, “We used to have 165 acres to mow. We have reduced the number of mowed areas considerably, and are excited to offer a wide variety of plants grown, using [these] landscaping methods. We believe that [it] is the blueprint for the future in gardening.”

“At Myers Park we will identify other plant groups that do not require pesticides, fertilizers or much supplemental irrigation,” Church adds. “These efficient landscape plants will demonstrate the effectiveness of Earth-Kind’s environmentally sensitive horticultural practices.”

“Support from our community and city leaders for the … project has been overwhelming,” Smith relates. “Economically, we realized the biggest savings in a reduction of water usage, but it was the elimination of fertilizers, pesticides and the recycling of tree material that has been an environmental victory. Visitors thoroughly enjoy our park, and the site is so beautiful that we have begun renting the property for special events and weddings. These savings have allowed and encouraged us to install more Earth-Kind parks.”

Her comments are echoed by Max Robertson, park director for the city of Cleburne: “[It is] is the right thing to do environmentally and economically. With Earth-Kind, the possibilities are endless!”

For more information, visit www.aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkind.

To learn how to join the Earth-Kind Rose Field Trials, contact Garey Wylie at gareywylie@charter.net.

Gaye Hammond is a past president of the Houston Rose Society and a member of the Earth-Kind Rose Advisory Board. She can be reached via e-mail at gayeh@LPM-triallaw.com.

Pam Smith is the landscape manager for the city of Farmers Branch, Texas. She can be reached via e-mail at Pam.Smith@farmersbranch.info.

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One comment on “No-Fuss Landscaping

  1. garden design sydney on said:

    The major factor in garden landscaping is that the ecology of the site also should be analyzed with care, since it is vital in determining the design. The second thing to consider is observing and analyzing the lifestyle of the people who will be using the space. This will include their desires and how much space each of their activities requires. You shared good stuff to enhance the knowledge about garden landscaping.

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