In the past article I brought up the subject of Best Management Practices for Landscaping and touching upon why a manual of this sort might be important. There are many good publications already out there that already focus the practices one should follow to create and maintain healthy landscapes and most of us as landscapers we already know what these practices are and we use them everyday. Having said that, why is so much of what we see everyday really doesn’t take best practices into account, plants installed in conditions that can never support them or if they do they aren’t appropriate for the site where they are used? Then the question becomes what allows for this and how might we correct it? How do we give some weight to these best practices, so that they are understood and they become the standards by which all those that are involved in the creating, approving, installing and maintaining of landscapes in municipal, commercial or residential situations? I will offer an example of this in the municipal situation with a couple of photos to illustrate.
In Rochester, as is occurring in many towns and cities they are making improvements to streets and sidewalks either for stormwater/ sewer improvements or as in Rochester downtown revitalization projects. This street (Hanson St.) that the photos show; it is side street that comes into the central square of town. What had occurred was that the street pavement and sidewalks were taken up, all of the utilities were place underground and with improvements to sewer and water lines. After all this work was done it was back filled with gravel and the crushed pavement that had been removed, new sidewalks were installed with new streetlights. As with many of these types of projects opening were left in sidewalks for trees to be installed. There are 26 trees that have been planted along this street, 4 varieties of trees were used: 10 Syringa reticulata, 4 Acer rubrum, 9 Zelkova serrata and 3 that might be Crataegus inermis, all about 2” cal.. As you will notice in picture 1 the trees were planted 6-8” below sidewalk grade. As a side note Hanson St. was the first street to be paved in Rochester in 1901 with 56,000 granite blocks from a quarry in Suncook, some of which were saved and cleaned to be reused as you notice in second picture around the trees. In order for granite blocks to installed stone dust was used as a base and in between joints. Then mulch was used to fill the gap between the trees and blocks. To look at the pictures, what do you consider to be problems? What might these trees look like in 5 to 10 years? What might have been the cost? This one example of so many, I sure you see this every day.
We do have a better understanding of the importance of soils and the nature and habits of plants and what their requirements are; so what I would like to offer now is outline for what I think would be in a Best Management Practices for Landscaping manual. I hope you might look it over, add your ideas, add comments, suggestions, or tell me I’m way off base.
Reasons for Manual-
A guide of best management practices for landscaping to be used by Planning Boards, Landscapers, contractors and homeowners who might use this resource to do the work themselves or to oversee the work done by someone else.
To help create realistic expectations to a design, installation and maintenance issues for the long-term success of the landscape site, one that enhances the site and the surrounding area and helps minimize the impact of other features of the site. General plant requirements – to site and soil types.
Sun light and environmental exposures
Type of soil- an explanation of different type of soils
Native soil or back fill
Compaction of soil at site
Amount of areas for landscaping – what plant material might it support, where they might be created to realistically valuable
Amount of imperative surface around planting areas and how these areas might impact the landscaped areas
Building site Footprint
Proper protection of existing vegetation
Minimize impact in alternation to site
Runoff water- where does it come from and where does it go?
Plant material and their characteristics
This would give general information about plants and their growth habits and requirements for a successful planting.
Different trees and their type of root structures and sizes.
How to select good quality plant material, esp. trees; also container vs. B & B material advantages and disadvantages
A discussion of the planting area and what it can support
A description of plant materials and those conditions that they require
The natural characteristics of shrubs and their cultural practices for growth control
The design should factor in maintenance issues
Plant materials suitable for the area that are sustainable
Snow removal and considerations chemical usage related planted areas
The effects of imperative surfaces
How the design should relate the site to the surrounding area
Mulching and staking
Maintenance factors that help create a successful Landscape
The establishment period (short term maintenance)
Long- term maintenance considerations and cost factors