Mexican Feather Grass
In this Issue
  • Making a Meadow
  • Planning for Pollinators
  • It's About More Than Stormwater
  • Added Value for Communities: Three Green Infrastructure Stories
Greenleee Meadow garden
A meadow with a mix of grasses chosen for different uses. Photo via Gardenista and Greenlee and Associates.
Making a Meadow

Meadow gardens are a beautiful path to sustainable landscapes. Plantsman John Greenlee is an expert at creating these vital, functional spaces.  This recent post on Gardenista gives eight tips for meadow gardens. It's a story we're sure you'll enjoy.

Grasses and sedges provide the foundation for meadow plantings. Larger, showier species offer seasonal and visual interest. But the  less glamourous species play an vital role. They create a dense ground cover that fills visual space and competes with weeds. 

Here, we've highlighted three species that are excellent filler choices for meadow gardens. They do the heavy lifting in these dense plantings:
For a complete list of grasses and sedges for meadow plantings and for other green infrastructure projects, go to our plants for green infrastructure post.

Butterfly with grasses
Planning for Pollinators

Plants with showy flowers are the headliners when pollinators are mentioned. Although they're less obvious, grasses and sedges have an important role to play, too. 

With National Pollinator Week wrapping up (April 20-26, 2016), we wanted to highight a post from last year. It shows grasses and sedges that provide food and shelter to pollinators. It also links to several helpful pollinator references.

Read our  pollinator post.   It's a reminder about how useful these wonderful plants are!
It's About More Than Stormwater

Bioretention in Charlotte, NC.
Photo courtesy of NCSU-BAE.
Sitting in a room of civil engineers, one expects to hear a lot about stormwater. More novel is hearing about increasing biodiversity and improving community health.

That was our experience this month at the Green Infrastructure Summit in North Carolina. Hosted by North Carolina State University's Dept. of Biological and Agricultural Engineeering and others, it brought together engineers, planners, and those interested in stormwater management. These folks know how to treat and manage runoff.

Historically, the goal for this crowd has been to remove pollutants from stormwater and reduce the amount of runoff that goes into streams and rivers.  But this summit was something more--a more holistic look at the benefits of green infrastructure. 

Detroit Ecorestoration
One of the presentations focused on Detroit's Green Infrastructure program. They're transforming abandoned properties into stormwater features that increase property values, support wildlife, and enhance neighborhood pride.
Dr. Bill Hunt, a world-renowned researcher in stormwater management, was the moderator for the summit. He noted that green infrastructure creates ecosystems. These ecosystems provide services beyond water management, such as carbon sequestration, improved air quality, wildlife habitat, and increased biodiversity. According to Dr. Hunt,

"As we monetize these other benefits, the types of practices we use will change."

He sees planners and engineers turning to green infrastructure more and more. And that's exciting for those of us in the green industry. 

While this summit was definitely not about plants, it was encouraging to hear the emphasis on looking beyond stormwater.  We know plants are integral to green infrastructure, and we have the expertise and capability to bring plants to this burgeoning field. 

To learn more about some of the topics presented at the summit, try these links:
Added Value for Communities

Our story above on the Green Infrastructure Summit mentions Detroit's program. Three other recent items show how green infrastructure is an increasingly appealing choice for communities.
ATL GI strategic plan
A walking path at Historic Fourth Ward Park. A 2-acre lake manages stormwater and serves as a community amenity. Photo: Atlanta's Green Infrastructure Strategic Action Plan.

Atlanta is changing the way it approaches stormwater. Their new green infrastructure strategic plan treats water as a resource to be protected rather than a waste product to be whisked away.  If the plan succeeds, it will put Atlanta at the forefront of water sustainability in the United States. 

Find out more about what Atlanta's doing to step up their game.  This article summarizes the plan and reports on reactions from city leaders. 

See the full strategic plan here.
Green Streets: The Road to Clean Water
Green Streets: The Road to Clean Water

Green streets take existing roadways and make them super streets. They manage and direct stormwater using natural systems that also enhance the look and feel of the street. 

This video from the Environmental Protection Agency is a great look at what these streets are doing for communities. They make a difference, and those of who grow plants can be part of it. 

Looking for more? This EPA Green Infrastructure page is a great start.
green spaces and crime reduction
Flickr/Mike Linksvayer

A  growing body of research demonstrates the wide-reaching and powerful benefits of green spaces. Recent findings are pretty exciting--maintaining green spaces in urban areas is linked to reduced crime rates in surrounding areas. That sounds like a win-win for everyone. 

Read more in this article from CityLab.
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