Native plant variety at Brightview Crofton Riverwalk, designed by Hord Coplan Macht

Landscaping Can Grow Engagement While It’s Shrinking Expenses

By Cynthia Bombach J

ust like many other community op- erations, landscaping today has to do more with the same resources.

While it’s important to offer curb appeal that makes every resident and visitor feel at home and welcomed, landscaping needs to work within a community’s budget—that’s both for establishment and maintenance, today and for the long term. On top of that are new expectations for sustainability, whether these are motivated by regulation or mission—and usually, it’s both. Fortunately, communities don’t always

have to choose between helping the environ- ment and helping themselves. In fact, with the right design, choices, and techniques, landscapes can even be managed to create a net benefit, without stinting on quality.

Location, location The first key: Find experts who know your lo- cation and what plants grow naturally there. Landscape architect Julie Higgins is princi- pal in the landscape studio at Hord Coplan Macht, a Baltimore-based architecture firm with a specialty in senior living. She works with an eye toward sustainability for both the environment and the community. “We focus on using native plants, because

they are better adapted to the environment and have lower maintenance,” she said. A landscape plan that uses a limited selection of plant material can save money and still be attractive by relying on bold colors, vary- ing textures and seasonal interest. Second is healthy soil—often an over- looked piece of the landscape puzzle.


Higgins cautions against scrimping on this crucial component, as that can lead to problems later. “You wouldn’t cut the budget on your

building foundation and use cheap con- crete,” she says. “You also have to have a good foundation for the plant material.” Organic practices such as adding com-

post at planting time, mulching and using integrated pest management will keep the soil in good shape. “If you take care of your soil conditions,

your plants do better and require less main- tenance,” Higgins says. Another important factor: Knowledge-

able landscape staff. A well-maintained landscape is more economical to operate than one that is allowed to develop prob-

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