University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension (URI CE)
Water Quality Program and the Cooperative
Extension Education Center currently play unique roles within
Rhode Island as leaders in both water quality and sustainable
landscaping education using state of the art approaches that
tailor educational programs to local communities. The Healthy
Landscapes Education Program is a partnership between URI
CE’s Water Quality, GreenShare, and Master Gardener
Programs, the Town of North Kingstown, and the private sector.
The goals of the program are to inform residents about the importance of their
water resources and identify steps they can take to protect those resources from
home landscape activities.
Gardening is the number one hobby nationwide. On average, residential landscapes
use several times more fertilizers and pesticides on a per acre basis than
agricultural lands. In addition, residential water consumption increases
40% - 50% during summer months due mainly to landscape watering.
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
with close proximity to “urbanizing” areas or areas with an increase
in impervious surface areas. Polluted stormwater runoff and a reduction in
groundwater recharge threaten water quality and balance in the water cycle.
rural homeowners also have pets, horses and other livestock. Improperly handled,
concentrated animal waste from pets, livestock, and other “resident
wildlife” are potential sources of pathogens and nutrients that can impact
water quality. These rural parcels are also subject to erosion, sedimentation,
sparse vegetation, loss or damage to riparian buffers and impacts to drinking
water wells when pastures and animal access areas are improperly managed.
• Developed a slideshow and script for the URI Master Gardener
Speakers Bureau. Trained 11 Master Gardeners to give this
presentation. Two public presentations have been made in
West Greenwich and Jamestown, and another is planned in Scituate
in September 2006.
on Healthy Landscapes at the annual URI Master Gardener
Training Program and for the Town of Scituate
Conservation Commission and Northern Rhode Island Conservation
District. Attended 13 events with display.
to monitor and maintain the North Kingstown Town Hall demonstration
rain garden through May 2007. Installed
a ground-mounted sign, October 2005.
and distributed a rain garden
articles on the rain garden and program were featured in
the September 2005 issue of the North Kingstown
Villager and March 2006 issue of South County Living Magazine.
• 5 articles were written for the North Kingstown newsletter,
a post evaluation with 129 program participants to track
knowledge gained and actions taken.
exit interviews with 3 demonstration sites (5 owners).
and distributed a final report, Cultivating Change:
Engaging Community Participation in Water Quality
Protection. Accomplishments and Impacts of an Extension Education
Healthy Landscapes Program materials and message are continuously
incorporated into several programs and events sponsored
by the URI CE Education Center and Master Gardener Programs,
including the “Gardening with the Masters Tour” and “Summer
and Fall Gardening School Series” held at the URI
January 2006, URI CE staff shared methods and resources
with the Northern Rhode Island Conservation District
and Town of Scitutate Conservation Commission to develop
local demonstration sites and assist with outreach and evaluation
that focus on stormwater management practices and other healthy
CE Project staff coordinated a statewide steering committee
to plan and develop a USDA CSREES National Water
Quality Grant Proposal: Livestock on Small Acreages:
Protecting Water Resources and Health; A Train-the-trainer
Education Program. The grant proposal was submitted in April
2005 and was awarded to URI CE in July 2005.
events and coordinated regional programming as part of
England Region Water Quality Program’s
Sustainable Landscaping Focus Area. Presented a talk on the
Healthy Landscapes Program at the Northeast Region Master
Gardener Conference in Newport, RI, June 2006.
(cumulative 2002 – 2006)
• Nearly 300 people attended Healthy Landscapes sponsored workshops
(6) and tours (10). Display and educational materials attended
over 40 events.
• 500 Master Gardeners received training (9 sessions) on the
Healthy Landscapes Program. 20 Master Gardeners actively
volunteered on behalf of the Program.
Plant Pro and other TV segments have aired reaching approximately
250,000 people per segment. 10 segments were
filmed at 5 demonstration sites.
• 94% of North Kingstown residents received 12 articles
and announcements on the Healthy Landscapes Program through
the Town’s newsletter, The Puddle, mailed with quarterly
municipal water bills.
percent of pre-evaluation respondents (200 evaluations
administered) indicated a willingness to change yard care
practices for water quality protection.
69 percent of post-evaluation respondents (129 post-evaluations
administered) gained new knowledge
in water conservation techniques, about 56 percent in controlling
runoff and soil erosion and half learned more about common
• Over 54 percent of post-evaluation respondents have
adopted at least one “smart” landscaping practice
and about 21 percent plan to adopt a practice soon.
48 percent of post-evaluation respondents installed a rain
gauge, about 40 percent now use yard waste
as mulch and more than 35 percent incorporated native and
sustainable plants in their gardens. 31 percent plan to install
a rain barrel or cistern.
67 percent of post-evaluation respondents shared information
with friends, 58 percent with family and
half with neighbors.
of programs and partnerships within URI Cooperative Extension,
state and local agencies and organizations,
and the New England Regional Water Quality Program Sustainable
Landscaping Focus Area.
website, www.healthylandscapes.org continually maintained
with all program resources, including 22 fact
sheets, photos of demonstration sites and updated events.