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Posts Tagged ‘lawn reduction’

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Lawns are boring. There, I said it. A look out the window at an expanse of emerald green has no allure for me. There are no attractions there for butterflies, songbirds, or honeybees, either—they would starve or not even bother to make a fly over. To say a person dislikes a lawn borders on heresy to many. After all, when we say the word landscape, most of us conjure up that big swath of a perfectly mowed, managed, monoculture. Yes, monoculture, as in one plant species. In fact, more than forty million acres, roughly the size of New York State, are covered in it, making lawns, or turf grass, our largest irrigated crop. (more…)

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A Yellow-crowned Night Heron stalks the new wetland on the grounds of the Johnson Space Center.

Visiting the Johnson Space Center (JSC), you probably anticipate a vision of a high tech future in space.  But to address a more down-to-earth aspect of the space center’s operation, Chris LaChance and I were invited to NASA by Sandy Parker of the JSC Environmental Office to consult on transforming a landscape problem area from boggy lawn to JSC’s first created wetland.

The JSC landscape maintenance contractor, Prodyn EPES, needed a way to deal with the water that pooled in a low spot between a weather station building, parking lots, and a jogging trail. It tended to be too wet to mow, so something else had to be done—and done on a tight budget. At about 2200 square feet, it was too large to be economically practical as a rain garden, which can sometimes require considerable excavation, an underdrain, porous soils, and a selection of predominantly nursery-raised native plants. Chris thought the site had more potential as a created wetland, so she brought me along on the mission.

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“There are two ways to face the rainless weeks. One is to water, and the other is merely not to.” Elizabeth Lawrence, a Southern gardener.

Perhaps this is a bit too simplified, but we do have to face the fact that in a world of overburdened water supplies and weather extremes, conserving water in the landscape whenever and however we can has never been more critical. During July, August, and September, Texans’ increase their water use by as much as 58%, with half of what is used to irrigate landscapes being wasted due to over-watering or runoff. The projection for the Houston area is that the population will double by the year 2030, but our water supplies are finite leading us to realize that even though we may get all the rain we need, more people means water shortages–frog-strangling deluges or not.  (more…)

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