Ewing: Earth Day was first started in 1970 to encourage environmental reforms…why do you think it is important today? Why is it important to our industry?
Warren: So much of what our industry does helps the environment. Climate-appropriate landscapes have so many ecosystem service benefits. I don’t think we talk enough about the benefits of landscaping to the environment. Earth Day is a great way for the “green industry” (and we were the original green industry before it was popular) to showcase what we do.
Ewing: Water use and droughts are big environmental issues in many areas. What are some of the ways to reduce water use in our landscapes and other green spaces?
Warren: Using the most efficient irrigation technology is one key way to reduce water use. High efficiency nozzles, smart controllers and sensors—that adjust your irrigation controller based on weather conditions and the plant’s needs—and low volume drip irrigation, are all great tools to reduce water use.Not without controversy and differing opinions, the right plant in the right place strategy will also help.Functional landscapes that people can use and enjoy are also helpful. I’m not a fan of prescriptive solutions when possible.
Warren: Depending on whether or not there is an adequate supply for these alternative water sources, absolutely, I think they are important. Think about the fact that we’re using treated drinking quality water to irrigate our landscapes, and in some parts of the country it’s going to continue to become price sensitive and these alternative sources will have to be considered.It also goes back to the fact that native or regionally appropriate landscapes often can survive on a limited water supply.
Ewing: Do you think green roofs and walls are becoming more popular? What benefits do they provide?
Warren: Yes, lots of increasing interest and projects with green roofs and walls. This is a great organization to learn more about them: GreenRoofs.orgGreen roofs help mitigate stormwater run off and provide cooling benefits to buildings. They also often allow for areas outside on the roof where people can enjoy the surroundings. They’re great to look at from your office window too!I’ve seen some cool green walls where at restaurants where they grow food that is served at the restaurant. Here’s a cool green wall at a shopping center: Villa Marina MarketplaceWe do a lot of work with Tournesol Siteworks [and sell their greenroof and greenwall supplies and other products.]
Ewing: What other kinds of products and methods can you think of (like LED lighting) are being used to create more sustainable landscapes?
Warren: Harnessing the power of the sun when possible, for solar powered irrigation control is an option especially on commercial projects.
Ewing: How do you think we can all promote more sustainable landscaping practices in the industry?
Warren: ASLA Sustainable Sites Initiative is a great resource for more information.Again, I can’t stress enough that we need to continuously show the positive effects landscaping has on the environment as well as on people and their well being.We also need to walk our talk too! That’s very important.