Our guiding principles are:
- Protect existing natural areas to the greatest extent possible (woodlands and wetlands, stream corridors and meadows).
- Select regionally native plants to form the backbone of the landscape. Select appropriate plants for each particular site (each plant has its unique requirements and most sites have a variety of conditions). While there’s not usually a problem with occasional use of exotic plants, native plants have evolved to local conditions over millions of years and form an integral part in the life cycles of the local wildlife; they also give an area its unique sense of place.
- Reduce use of turf. Instead, install woodland, meadow or other natural plantings. Where lawns are needed (such as play areas), follow best management practices to reduce harmful impacts and use composting mowers.
- Reduce use of pesticides, practice integrated pest management with natural alternatives to pesticides.
- Compost and mulch on site to eliminate solid waste. Generate a free mulch – a soil additive that can replace the need for most fertilizers.
- Practice soil and water conservation. Stabilize slopes with natural plantings, mulch around plants, and install drought-tolerant species.
- Reduce use of power landscape equipment. Shrinking the size of the lawn and planting appropriate native species in less formal arrangements will reduce the need for extensive use of power equipment.
- Use plantings to reduce heating/cooling needs. Deciduous trees planted appropriately along the south sides of buildings can reduce air conditioning costs by up to 20%; in winter they allow the sun’s rays to warm buildings. Coniferous trees planted to block prevailing NW winter winds can reduce heating costs. Trees planted to shade paved areas reduce the summer heat-island effect that makes parking lots so inhospitable.
- Avoid use of invasive exotics which outcompete native plants and result in declines in biodiversity. Examples include: Norway maples, kudzu, purple loosestrife, Japanese honeysuckle and multiflora rose.
- Create additional wildlife habitat to partially compensate for land lost to urban/suburban sprawl. This is especially important along streams where the vegetation can filter runoff, aid in flood control, and provide wildlife corridors.
These principles are adapted from the U.S. EPA’s Green Communities initiative website.