Sustainable Landscaping
healthy lawn care
rain gardens

 

 

The University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension Water Quality Program currently plays a unique role within the State as leaders in water quality education using state of the art approaches that tailor educational programs to local communities. The Healthy Landscapes Project is a partnership program with URI Cooperative Extension’s Water Quality, GreenShare, and Master Gardener Programs, the Town of North Kingstown, and the private sector.

Situation
Gardening is the number hobby in our country. Residents spend vast amounts of time and money on yard and garden care. On average, homeowners use ten times more chemical fertilizers and pesticides than agricultural producers. Furthermore, the improper use of fertilizers, pesticides, lawn watering and the need to manage and dispose of yard waste and pet waste are occurring on small acreages within close proximity to “urbanizing” areas or areas with an increase in impervious surfaces. Polluted stormwater runoff and a reduction in groundwater recharge threaten water quality and balance in the water cycle.

The Healthy Landscapes Program focuses on "smart" landscaping techniques that also enhance and protect water quality. Integrated pest management, pollution prevention and sustainable landscaping are the guiding principles of these CE programs. Proper plant selection, responsible fertilizer use, integrated pest management techniques and the use of naturalized landscapes are all environmentally sound practices that work to produce beautiful home landscapes and protect water quality.

Action
· Established three residential demonstration landscapes and one “small-acreage” farm site. One additional demonstration landscape was added for educational programming.

· Developed an approach for mass media distribution of Healthy Landscapes best management practices that included both TV and print media coverage on statewide and local levels.

· The Healthy Landscapes web page at www.healthylandscapes.org contains all project materials and documents the development of the demonstration sites, program events and TV coverage.

· Developed written materials, an educational display and a residential survey to accompany educational programming and events.

· Conducted educational tours of demonstration sites, workshops, and participated in community events for residents, volunteers, and professionals.

· Developed a comprehensive method to evaluate and document project impacts.

Impacts
· Increased citizen awareness of the quality of their drinking water, the water cycle, and of the interrelationships between humans and the environment.

· Residential education on best landscaping practices for protecting water quantity and quality.

· Increased adoption of best landscaping practices for protecting water resources.

· Undergraduate students education in landscape best management practices and community service.

· Valuable partnership enhanced among the University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension, the Town of North Kingstown, and the professional landscaping sector.

· Strengthening residential pollution prevention programs with the development of new educational materials, innovative programming, and new delivery techniques.

What’s Next – Year Two
· Continue local and statewide media outreach.

· Introductory and advanced training programs for Master Gardener volunteers.

· Engage additional Master Gardener volunteers in project to work at demonstration sites and deliver programmatic information at community events.

· Conduct targeted workshops and tours to demonstration landscapes.

· Conduct professional sector and garden center training through URI GreenShare’s WinterSchool.

· Establish water conservation demonstration garden at North Kingstown Town Hall.

· Establish best landscaping practices at the URI CE Learning Landscape.