Environmentally Beneficial Landscaping

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What Is GreenScapes?
       Roads and highways, golf courses
       and ski resorts, commercial
       buildings and industrial sites—the
widespread use of economically and  /
environmentally costly landscaping is  •
everywhere. By simply changing these
landscapes to "GreenScapes," you can
save money and prevent pollution.    \    j
The U.S. Environmental Protection         //
Agency's (EPA's) GreenScapes program   //
provides cost-efficient and environmen-
tally friendly solutions for large-scale
landscaping. Designed to help preserve
natural resources and prevent waste and
pollution, GreenScapes encourages
companies, government agencies, and
other entities to make more holistic deci-
sions regarding waste generation and
disposal and the associated impacts on
land, water, air, and energy use. By
focusing on the "4 Rs"—reduce, reuse,
recycle, and rebuy—you can help
improve both your bottom line and the

Why Is GreenScaping

Think about some of the large-scale land uses
in the United States—shopping and retail cen-
ters; recreational facilities such as golf courses,
ski resorts, amusement parks, public gardens;
roads and highways; abandoned industrial
sites such as brownfields; college and universi-
ty campuses; and military installations. Think
about the millions of tons of materials that are
hauled away, buried, or burned each day from
landscaping and groundskeeping operations—
trees, shrubs, brush, lumber, asphalt, and con-
crete, just to name a few. Also, consider the
millions of gallons of water,  pesticides, fuels,
and oils used each and every day in landscap-
ing. The costs of these materials—both eco-
nomic and environmental—can be easily
reduced or eliminated with updated landscap-
ing methods.

What Can You Do?
Understanding the economic and environmen-
tal benefits of saving resources and preventing
waste and pollution is key to bringing positive
changes to your operations and surroundings.
These changes  can be made  gradually. Set a
combination of short- and long-term goals—
activities that can be performed in a few
weeks paired with actions that can be imple-
mented later for future gains. Even small
improvements can create a huge ripple-effect-
not only on your site, but throughout your
industry and the environment. Focus on the

  • Reduce

  • Reuse

  • Recycle

  • Rebuy

Reducing the production of waste is the first
and most important step towards efficient
materials use; When planning a new landscape
design or updating a current one, avoid prod/
ucts that require frequent replacement or regu-
lar maintenance to reduce future waste.
Durable products will long outlast those of  •
lesser quality, reducing future waste generation
and the need to purchase new or replacement^.
products. Try some of the following  waste
reduction suggestions:
   • Reduce or eliminate plastic silt fencing and
    substitute with blankets, berms, and filter-
    socks made of compost, for erosion con-
    trol and reduction of nonpoint source pol-
    lution. Compost provides superior filtration
    and erosion prevention/control,  is more
    easily installed and  maintained,  and does
    not require energy-intensive removal  or
    disposal from the site once the  job is
   • Reduce nonpermeable hardscape wherev-
    er possible to minimize rainwater runoff
    and erosion. Consider parking areas or
    paths made from mulch or gravel. Where
    hard surfaces are necessary, use asphalt
  This filter berm made from compost demon-
  strates how well the organic material helps
  retain runoff in comparison to a typical silt
  fence in the lower portion of the photo.

  containing recycled tires—the surface will
  last longer and require less maintenance,
 • Switch from benches, boardwalks, and
  signs made from wood to long-lived plas-
  tic lumber. Structures made from recov-
  ered plastic material do not require routine
  upkeep—saving paint, solvent, and labor
  costs. Plastic lumber also lasts many
  years longer than wood—greatly reducing
  maintenance and replacement costs.
 • Conserve water through "Xeriscaping."
  Plant vegetation that is  not only drought-
  resistant, but indigenous to a region's soil
  and climate conditions. Once established,
  these native plants can survive with little
  care or water. Add compost to the soil to
  help improve water absorption and reten-
  tion and further reduce  water require-
  ments. Native plants are also more pest-
  resistant and healthier, thus requiring less
Compost - An On-Par Alternative

The soil on the North Shore Country Club
(Glenview, Illinois) golf course had elevat-
ed sodium levels—too high to maintain
quality turf. Standard procedure called
for the installation of a well to solve this
problem, but that solution came with a
quarter million dollar price tag.  With o
little research, North Shore found  compost
to be the economical alternative to
enhance the quality of its soil.

  fertilizers and pesticides. Long-lived,
"" hardier vegetation can save money by
  lowering labor costs and money spent on
  maintenance supplies.
 • Produce less green waste by limiting fertik'
  izer and water use—this will save you
  money and maintenance time due to
  slower plant growth. Less landscape
  maintenance translates to fewer hours of
  equipment operations, saving fuel, mainte-
  nance, labor, and emissions and increas-
  ing equipment longevity.
 • All pesticides are toxic to some degree-
  spot treat whenever possible. In most
  cases, treating an entire region with pesti-
  cides isn't necessary if the problem is
  confined to specific areas. Treating more
  than necessary  is wasteful  and can be
  environmentally damaging. For similar rea-
  sons, consider using organic fertilizers
  instead of chemical ones,
 • Start or increase onsite composting of clip-
  pings, trimmings, leaves, and food scraps.
  Compost contributes vital nutrients and dis-
  ease-suppressing properties to the soil,
  reducing the need for chemical fertilizers or
  pesticides. Compost is also an excellent
  soil amendment for seeding grass and
  young plants, reclaiming nutrient-poor soil,
  and preventing erosion. Compost can be
  made cheaply and easily on site.  In addi-
  tion, diverting organic material to  a com-
  post pile can prevent the production of the
  greenhouse gas methane that normally
  occurs when this waste is buried in landfills.
 • Top-dress your turf with compost—this
  can decrease fertilizer use by up to 50
  percent and decrease irrigation needs by
  increasing water absorption and retention.
 • Place mulch over a plant's root zone to
  reduce moisture evaporation and conserve
  water. Mulch also inhibits weed growth.
  Save money and make your own mulch by
  chipping wood wastes generated from
  your site.

• Set mower blades higher. Longer top
 growth means deeper roots, making the
 grass more durable in drought conditions
 and better able to fight weeds and dis-
 eases without pesticides.
•Grasscycle—leave grass clippings in place
 {don't bag) when  mowing. The clippings
 quickly decompose and release valuable
 nutrients into the soil, reducing the need
 for fertilizers by 15 to 25 percent. This
 activity also reduces water use, grass dis-
 posal, and maintenance costs. Grass trim-
 mings do not cause thatch.
• Use vegetation  outside to reduce indoor
 heating and cooling needs. Deciduous
 trees planted appropriately along the
 south sides of buildings can reduce air
 conditioning costs by up to 20 percent;  in
 winter they allow the sun's rays to warm        --|
 buildings. Coniferous trees planted to
 block prevailing northwest winter winds
 can reduce heating costs. Trees planted to
 shade paved areas reduce the summer
 "heat-island" effect that makes parking  .
 lots so inhospitable.

Reuse serves as another key component to
environmentally beneficial landscaping. Many
items can be reused effectively without adding /
much time or energy. Try some of the following
reuse tips:
   • Chip woody shrubs and tree clippings into
    mulch that can be applied to the land-
    scape. This activity saves money on dis-N
    posal costs while adding the benefits of
    mulch, such as.moisture retention, weed
    prevention, and erosion control.
   • Return wooden pallets to your supplier
    whenever possible. Nonreturnable pallets
    can be chipped and used on site for
    mulch or compost.
   • Donate healthy plants to community gar-
    dens, schools, churches, or other local
    nonprofit organizations when reconfiguring
    or removing trees and shrubs from your
   • Use alternative sources of irrigation water
    such as  gray water, reclaimed water,
    and collected rain water. These options
    save water and money while helping to
    reduce runoff, erosion, and nonpoint
    source pollution.

  A "Growing" Plastics Recycling Business

  Agri-Plas, Inc., an agricultural plastic
  recycler in Oregon,  processes tons of dis-
  carded plastics from the agricultural and
  nursery industries each  year. The company
  collects trays, pots, and greenhouse films
  from about 100  nearby nurseries and
  picks up  baling twine and plastic agricul-
  tural chemical containers from  local farm-
  ers  and growers. Agri-Plas provides the
  recovered plastic to end users that make
  new products for the nursery and automo-
  tive industries.
Creating products from recycled materials
saves energy and resources, and can often
generate revenue. Try some of the following
recycling suggestions:
   • Send clippings, trimmings, and leaves that
    cannot be composted on site to a local
    composting facility in exchange for finished
    compost at a discounted price or fee.
   • Save bedding trays and  plant containers
    from annuals and other greenery and send
    •them to a recycler for processing.
   • Place recycling receptacles next to trash
   • Collect and recycle the used oil and  tires
    from your vehicles and equipment.


/Rebuying means re-thinking your purchasing
  habits. Look for products that meet your      /
  needs but have a better environmental profile /
  than your current.product purchases.  Consider
  biobased,  recycled content, and other environ-
  mentally preferable aspects in your purchasing
  decisions. Recycled products, for example, are
  often more durable than those made with vir1,
  gin materials, saving money and raw materials v
  over time.  Rebuying is key to sustaining recy-
  cling markets, and it aids in the development
  of technology that conserves resources and
  prevents waste. You can work with your man-
  agers, clients, suppliers, and vendors  to identi-
  fy and establish specifications to purchase var-
  ious  recycled-content products. Biobased
  products—products other than food or feed
  that utilize biological products  or renewable
  domestic agricultural (e.g.,  plant, animal, and
  marine) or forestry materials—should also be
  given preference1. Try these rebuy tips:
     • Use blankets and berms made of com-
      post to minimize or eliminate soil erosion,
      runoff, and nonpoint source pollution.
      Compost is both a biobased product and
      a recycled product because it is made
      from recycled organic waste materials.  .
      Compost also makes an. excellent air filter
      media for volatile organic compounds
  1. As defined under Executive Order 13101 and
  Executive Order 13134.

   • Select plastic lumber made from recycled
    bottles and bags for benches and other
    outdoor structures. Plastic lumber is an
    extremely durable material that lasts
    longer and requires less maintenance than
    traditional wood, realizing significant cost
    savings for you over the life of the materi-
    al. The National Park Service currently has
    more than a dozen projects planned with
    plastic lumber.
   • Use high efficiency lighting for roadways,
    parking lots, security, and landscaping.
   • Purchase biodiesel and biobased lubri-
    cants for your equipment. Besides being
    better for the environment, keeping less
    hazardous materials on your site reduces
    management costs and possibly insur-
    ance costs.
   • Incorporate rubberized asphalt (made from
    recycled tires) for walking, running, bike,
    or cart paths—it extends the life of trails
    and reduces the frequency of repairs.
  This walking path at the Earvin "Magic"
  Johnson Recreation Area in Los Angeles
  County is made from rubberized asphalt,
  which is more resilient than traditional

  / * Use recycled glass for golf course bunker
 I / sand, beach sand, or filter media.
*   • Rethink your pesticide use through
     Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM
     reduces the risk from pesticides, and in  /
     some cases, reduces the amount of pesti-
     cides needed.  IPM is based on a combi-
     nation of techniques such as biological j
     control, habitat manipulation, and modifi-
     cation of cultural practices, often including
     steps you can  take before you ever
     encounter a pest problem. If pesticides
     become necessary, they are selected and
     applied  in ways that  minimize risks to
     human health and the environment and
     remove only the target organism.

  Join the Alliance—Help
  Make  a Difference!
  There's a lot that can be done to advance
  green landscaping,  but we can't do it
  alone—we need help from industry. The
  knowledge and experience of those who have
  "been there, done that" is invaluable. To help
  foster these important  partnerships, we estab-
  lished the GreenScapes Alliance. The Alliance
  combines  government and industry into a
  powerful, unified influence over the reduction,
  reuse,  and recycling of materials and resources
  in land use activities that  include 4 million miles
  of roadside landscaping,  land revitalization,
  and the construction and maintenance of
  office complexes, golf courses, and parks in
  government and industry across the nation.
  More than 100,000 businesses are involved in
  these types of activities every day.
  The Alliance also is  a venue that allows those
  who have  information or experience doing
  green landscaping to advocate and share that
  valuable knowledge with others. Together, we
  promote practices and products that still meet
  users needs but have.better environmental
  profiles than current methods.

The GreenScapes Alliance reinforces these
goals by emphasizing a holistic multimedia
view of environmental impacts and steward-
ship. In addition, the Alliance:
   • Provides information about the cost sav-
    ings that can be achieved from reducing
    material use and waste, resource conser-
    vation, and on the performance and dura-
    bility of environmentally preferable prod-
    ucts such as recycled-content and
    biobased products.
   • Educates land managers that green land-
    scaping efforts yield water and energy
    savings, conserves .landfill space, reduces
 -   greenhouse gas emissions, and saves
   • Provides case studies, success stories,
    and technical assistance to help alleviate
    concerns regarding alternative practices
    and products.
   * Promotes market expansion and growth
    of environmentally preferable products.
   • Recognizes organizations that achieve
    environmental excellence in pollution pre-
    vention and resource conservation.

Organizations can participate in the
GreenScapes Alliance as Partners and/or
   •Partners include companies, agencies,
    and others who, in joining the program,
    commit to undertaking a minimum of two
    GreenScapes activities.
  . "Allies include professional groups, trade
    associations, research organizations, and
    product manufacturers, publications or
    marketers who, in joining the program, will
    work with their affiliated organizations to
    promote greater use of GreenScapes

Simply go to our Web site at
www.epa.gov/greenscapes, download the reg- /
istration form from the "GreenScapes Alliance" j
section, fill it out, then fax or mail it into us.
Once we receive your registration form, we will'
send you a welcome letter and a certificate
recognizing your participation in the program.
Imagine the difference we can make working
together.                                 -^ ^J

    Join Us—Make a Difference!       //
For More Information

Visit the GreenScapes Web site to learn more
about innovative landscaping techniques that are
taking place across the country and read their
success stories.

  Reference to any specific commercial
  products, processes, companies, or services
  by trade name, trademark, manufacturer or
  otherwise, does not constitute or imply
  endorsement or recommendation by the U.S.

  Environmental  Protection Agency.

United States Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Solid Waste and
Emergency Response (5306W)
November  2004