Bringing Nature Home

Really interesting discussion on ecological soundness in the design of landscapes- specifically how silly lawns are in the common context of a yard. According to this article
“Turf grass covers 40 million acres of land in the U.S., with 20 million acres just residential lawns. This landscape requires 580 million gallons of gasoline and up to 60 percent of urban fresh water to maintain.”

When I was working for Texas Campaign for the Environment, and canvassing in neighborhoods around Austin, it was fascinating to see how people would maintain their landscapes. In the TCE office we actually had a discussion on the paradoxical situation where the homeowners association would fine community members on not “maintaining” their lawns in draught, and the city would fine them for the amount of water they would use to keep their turf lawns green and thriving.

Getting neighborhoods on board with using native or novel ecosystems to create more dynamic (aesthetically and ecologically) landscapes!

THE DIRT

Mark Simmons sets fires. He uses prescribed fires as a technique for land management to improve the ecological health of a system. These fires are carefully plotted and designed to self-extinguish. They are employed to control brush, which could feed wildfires, and selectively remove invasive species and restore native ones. Simmons is the director of the ecosystem design group at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas. His team engages in scientific research, sustainable design, and environmental consulting.

American Indians on the plains also set fires. They used controlled burning to both attract and drive game, get rid of ticks, and harvest lizards and insects. Simmons says this practice demonstrates that they had a mutually influential relationship with nature. They melded the landscape and in turn were melded by it.

Americans today are found in different landscapes. We primarily occupy landscapes like suburban strip mall…

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