Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Landscape - Horticultural Ecosystems I

I often like to teach horticulture from an ecological perspective. By Viewing the landscape as a horticultural ecosystem where your influence as a landscaper is critical and the decisions you make can affect the balance, you can often make better decisions. The goal is to create a sustainable landscape system. This is the first in a series of slides on the subject from a presentation I give.

In a horticultural ecosystem, all the above actions are determined by you as the landscaper or landscape maintenance person. Your decisions will affect the success of the landscape.

In natural landscapes, there is a succession of plants to a climax vegetation that dominates. This does not change until something disturbs the balance such as fire caused by lightning.

The above pictures are examples of a "naturalized" landscape using native plants. Man's actions are still critical here as this meadow environment is not the climax vegetation in our area. Weedy annual and perennial plants can invade. Woody shrubs followed by trees will then come into the area without intervention.

This is a landscape that uses native plants but is more highly managed. The land is disturbed and a new landscape is established. Species are predetermined, planting patterns established, and maintenance practices such as mulching are put into place.

I will continue on this topic in future posts.

Gordon Johnson, Extension Horticulture Agent, UD, Kent County.

No comments: