MG Intern Display Boards: Making Your Yard Sustainable

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Project by Master Gardener Interns (Class of 2012): Margaret Hawkins, Clare Noble and Judy Salveson. Mentored by Carol Rosen

“Environmental sustainability” is defined as the maintenance of factors and practices that contribute to the quality of the environment on a long-term basis. A sustainable yard protects and restores the productive soil, clean water and healthy plants that are essential for human well-being. Conventional gardens often work against nature. They can damage the environment’s ability to clean the air and water, reduce flooding, combat climate change and provide other natural benefits that support life on earth, including us.

There is currently no simple, at-a-glance summary that can show how even one home garden can begin to repair the web of life or how it is possible to create a great-looking garden that is healthy for individuals, their families, their pets and the environment–and that saves time and money. However, the Landscape for Life™ project of the U. S. Botanic Garden and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin shows people how to work with nature in their gardens, no matter where they live, whether they garden on a city or suburban lot, a 20-acre farm, or the common area of a condominium. Landscape for Life™ is based on the principles of the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES), the nation’s first rating system for sustainable landscapes, an interdisciplinary effort by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the U.S. Botanic Garden.

For their Master Gardener 2012 class project, interns Margaret Hawkins, Clare Noble, and Judy Salveson prepared a display board illustrating the concepts, benefits and practices of sustainability by combining materials from the Landscape for Life™ initiative with Virginia Cooperative Extension’s recommendations on best management practices for increasing the productivity of soil, protecting water resources and selecting and nurturing plants that support our habitat. A center panel summarizes the benefits of working toward sustainability. The two side panels provide, in chart form, comparisons of conventional and sustainable practices and describe what gardeners can do in four broad areas: soil, water, plants and materials. This display board will be available for use in a variety of public outreach programs for Virginia Cooperative Extension and in future sustainability workshops.

For more information, contact the VCE Master Gardener Help Desk at 703-228-6414 or mgarlalex@gmail.com and visit the following websites:
Landscape for Life™ project, U.S. Botanic Garden: http://www.usbg/landscape-life™
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, University of Texas at Austin: http://www.wildflower.org
Sustainable Sites Initiative: http://www.sustainablesites.org
American Society of Landscape Architects: http://www.asla.org

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