Native Landscaping 101 Native Landscaping 101 Green Infrastructure and Native Landscaping? 551,357 total acres 169,723 “Green Infrastructure Vision” (30.8% of total) 42,058 protected (7.6% of total) Native Landscaping 101 What is Native Landscaping? • Native landscaping relies on a the plants - trees, shrubs, grasses, sedges, wildflowers, etc. - that lived in our region for thousands of years and are well– adapted to local growing conditions • Native plants are difficult to mass produce and distribute across the country • Native plants vary regionally and help create a sense of place in the landscape Native Landscaping 101 The Conventional Approach to Landscaping • Conventional landscaping relies on a handful of commercial plants sold based on their function – hedge, groundcover, lawn grass, ornamental grass, etc • Plants are easy for nurseries and stores to mass produce and distribute widely • Creates to homogenization and simplification of our landscapes • Heavy reliance on lawn or turf grass Native Landscaping 101 Scope of Conventional Landscaping Map courtesy of Cristina Milesi, NASA Ames Research Center • We are a nation obsessed with lawns - 40 million acres of turf grass in the US • The state of Illinois is 37 million acres Native Landscaping 101 Benefits of Conventional Landscaping Why do we love it so much? • Aesthetic status-quo • Status symbol • Static and dependable • We know how to maintain them • Most appropriate for certain functions (soccer or baseball fields) • All landscaping provides moderate environmental benefits - carbon sequestration, urban cooling, etc. Native Landscaping 101 Costs of the Conventional Landscaping 1. Resource Intensive • Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides – homeowners apply 67 million lbs/yr – homeowners apply 3-10x more/acre than farmers – creates water pollution and human health concern • Air pollution emissions – 1 hr of lawn mowing = 20 mi driven – 580 million gallons gas/yr used by lawn mowers – High in particulate emissions Native Landscaping 101 Costs of the Conventional Landscaping • Water – lawn grass is the most irrigated crop in the US – over 40% of Chicago’s summertime water is used for gardens and lawns • Time Intensive – Average homeowner spends 40 hr/yr mowing the lawn • Costly – $28.9 billion/yr is spent on lawn care in the US – Annual maintenance costs $400$6,5000/acre Native Landscaping 101 Costs of the Conventional Landscaping 2. Ecological Impact • Invasive Species – Many ornamental plants have become invasive species in our region’s natural areas Native Landscaping 101 Costs of the Conventional Landscaping • Simplified Landscapes – Creates simple, sterile landscapes that can not support biodiversity – Conventional landscaping favors non-native, “pest-free” ornamentals – Without the right plants that support insects - the food web is broken Native Landscaping 101 Challenges of Native Landscaping • • • • Not appropriate for every function Different than status quo Unknown and untrusted Less consumer demand Native Landscaping 101 The Benefits of Native Landscaping Native Landscaping 101 The Benefits of Native Landscaping 1. Less Resource Intensive • No synthetic fertilizers or pesticides – Plants are well-adapted to local soil conditions • No Regular Mowing or Watering – Long roots eliminate the need for watering during summer droughts • Less Time Intensive • Less Costly – Annual maintenance costs: $3001200/acre Native Landscaping 101 The Benefits of Native Landscaping 2. Positive Ecological Impact • • • Improved soil fertility Carbon sequestration and storage Increased stormwater infiltration Native Landscaping 101 The Benefits of Native Landscaping • Diverse, Living Landscapes • Native plants support native insects which support birds and other wildlife • Most insects are specialists and have a specific relationship with a host • No two plant species have the same leaf chemistry. Insects have synchronized their life cycle with certain plants and adapted to be able to overcome physical and chemical defenses of their hosts. Native Landscaping 101 Garden Food Web Tertiary Consumers Secondary Consumers (BIRDS, MAMMALS) Primary Consumers (INSECTS, HERBIVORES) PLANTS (Primary Producers) SOIL Native Landscaping 101 The Benefits of Native Landscaping • Research has shown that native landscapes do support more biodiversity • Measured bird and butterfly larvae diversity at 6 pairs of suburban lots (native vs. non-native) with equal cover and diversity • Native lots • 8x more bird species of regional concern (abundance) • 4x more butterflies (abundance) • 3x more butterfly species (diversity) Burghardt, K.T. et al. 2008. Impact of Native Plants on Bird and Butterfly Biodiversity in Suburban Landscapes. Conservation Biology, Vol 23. No 1, 219-224. Native Landscaping 101 Why Is Native Landscaping Important? • Only 3.6% of Illinois is in public ownership for natural resource protection. • Illinois has lost more than 90% of its original wetlands, 99.99% of its original prairie. • Most of our state has been plowed, drained, ditched, paved, or turfed. • There are 424 state and 24 federally listed threatened and endangered species in Illinois. 2007. Illinois Environmental Council Education Fund. Illinois State Land Conservation Funding Report. Native Landscaping 101 Questions?