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Bohler’s Planning and Landscape Architecture team members Leslie Fanger (Sr. Project Manager) and Elyse Gemme (Landscape Designer) are educating Concord, MA residents about opportunities to be more sustainable in their home landscaping.

In partnering with both the Town of Concord and sustainable community experts Kim Lundgren Associates (KLA), the duo helped launch a Sustainable Landscape Workshop series and online handbook.

Through the Town of Concord’s and KLA’s efforts to develop the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program, a state-driven program that supports cities and towns as they build resilience to climate change, the Town recognized the need for residents to be more sustainable in their home landscaping.

Knowing Bohler’s extensive experience with sustainable landscape design, KLA brought our team on board to help accomplish the Town’s goals of educating and engaging with the community about this important topic.

Leslie and Elyse recently conducted the first workshop in the series, “Sustainable Landscape Design.” In the workshop, they taught homeowners how to approach sustainable landscaping, including planning for pollinators, establishing rain gardens, and retaining water on their properties.

Attendees were then given a chance to develop their own design for a sample property, with the professional designers’ guidance.

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Elyse shared more about the well-received workshop:

Can you talk about the Town's goals driving this homeowner education series?

Their goal is to spread the word about sustainable landscape alternatives and how they can retain water on their sites for their benefit. The town of Concord sees a 50% spike in their water usage during the summer months due to irrigation. This places their reservoirs at critically low levels during extended dry spells.

Creating a sustainable home landscape design seems like a daunting project. What’s your advice for getting started?

It certainly can be! We broke down the design process into these 6 steps:

  1.  Who will do the work (you or a contractor)?
  2.  Start with a scaled plan of your property.
  3.  Analyze your property.
  4.  Assess your needs and determine use areas.
  5.  Brainstorm alternative layouts.
  6.  Create your master plan!
For those without a green-thumb, what’s the easiest way to integrate some sustainability into your home’s landscape design?

If you don’t have a green thumb, don’t worry! Here’s an easy and sustainable idea for the fall: mulch your leaves in your yard and use them in your planting beds. This insulates the plants over the winter and provides them with free food as the leaves decompose.

What do you hope participants took away from this workshop?

The mindset shift. Everyone is so accustomed to seeing nice green lawns and lush plantings and typically resort to chemicals or non-natives to achieve this. The reality is that this can be done in a sustainable manner and you can still have a great looking yard. It all begins with your soil.

What’s the most common challenge homeowner’s face and your advice for turning it into an opportunity for sustainability?

Everyone expects a perfect lawn, but that alone can be challenging. Most people resort to commercial fertilizers and tend to overwater their lawns. You would be surprised at how little a lawn needs to be watered with proper soil management. Adding compost to the soil is a great way to feed your lawn – and a great opportunity to save on fertilizing costs!

Learn more about Bohler’s planning and landscape architecture design services here.