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Living lightly : minimizing impact and maximizing function of suburban yards Teed, Michael Gordon 2006

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LIVING LIGHTLY: MINIMIZING IMPACT AND MAXIMIZING FUNCTION OF SUBURBAN YARDS by MICHAEL GORDON TEED B.L.A., University of Guelph, 2003 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Landscape Architecture) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September 2006 © Michael Gordon Teed, 2006 a b s t r a c t Conventional suburban designs require extensive energy inputs and produce of great quantities of waste, resemble nature but in a highly manicured, low-functioning manner and are based on an unnatural aesthetic that is constantly at odds with natural processes. If we are to design better suburban yards, we must consider the ecosystems approach and environmental health when making design decisions. Homeowners, armed with knowledge of best-practices and the right attitude can make choices that positively affect how their yards function and greatly reduce their yards' impacts on the environment while saving time, money and energy. The suburban yard could function to mitigate the disturbance of the house by supporting the cycles and flows of natural systems while contributing to the health and economy of the individual and the community. This ecologically-inspired manner of decision making, multiplied across thousands of suburban yards, wil l result in a significant reduction of the strain that the suburbs have on our human-designed infrastructures and our natural resources. ii t a b l e o f c o n t e n t s abstract ii table of contents i i i list of tables v list of figures vi acknowledgements ix chapter 1 - introduction 1.1 introduction 2 1.2 problem statement 3 1.3 hypothesis 6 1.4 goal Et objectives 6 1.5 positioning 8 1.6 methodology 10 chapter 2 - the suburban yard 2.1 vision 12 2.2 decisionmaking 15 2.3 six principles for a better suburban yard 17 chapter 3 - landscape elements 3.1 landscape elements dissected 21 3.2 garden 23 3.3 lawn 30 3.4 soil 36 3.5 structures & materials 42 3.6 treading surfaces 47 3.7 wildlife habitat 50 3.8 water 55 3.9 energy 66 3.10 food / production 72 3.11 waste management 77 3.12 chemicals 83 iii chapter 4 - suburban yard scorecard 4.1 purpose 8t format 89 4.2 scorecard properties 90 4.3 suburban yard scorecard 91 chapter 5 - illustrative case study 5.1 case study syllabus 106 5.2 existing site design 107 5.3 proposed site design 109 5.4 six principles applied 112 5.5 performance comparison 118 chapter 6 - final thoughts 6.1 key findings 126 6.2 liabilities St learning 127 6.3 applications 128 6.4 conclusion 130 bibliography 133 appendix a alternatives to chemicals 137 appendix b site context 139 appendix c area takeoffs 143 appendix d installation expenses 144 appendix e client-interview 145 appendix f neighbours and views •'. 147 appendix g planting plan 148 appendix h scoring the proposed design 150 appendix i presentation panels 155 iv l i s t o f t a b l e s Table 3.1 conventional / alternative garden comparison 28 Table 3.2 conventional / alternative lawn comparison 35 Table 3.3 conventional / alternative soil maintenance 41 Table 3.4 conventional / alternative structures 6t materials 46 Table 3.5 conventional / alternative treading surfaces 59 Table 3.6 conventional / alternative wildlife habitat 54 Table 3.7 conventional / alternative water comparison 64 Table 3.8 constraints / benefits of irrigation techniques 64 Table 3.9 constraints / benefits of stormwater management 65 Table 3.10 conventional / alternative energy comparison 71 Table 3.11 conventional / alternative food / production 76 Table 3.12 conventional / alternative waste management 82 Table 3.13 conventional chemicals and alternatives 87 Table 4.1 suburban yard scorecard 91 Table 5.1 area takeoff comparison 118 Table 5.2 installation cost comparison 119 Table 5.3 scorecard results 120 Table 5.4 annual inputs 121 Table A.1 area takeoffs 143 Table A.2 landscape installation expenses 144 Table A.3 scoring the proposed design 150 v l i s t o f f i g u r e s Figure 1.1 suburban yard from a different perspective 2 Figure 1.2 the ecosystem's approach 2 Figure 1.3 the suburban yard scorecard 3 Figure 1.4 unsustainable characteristics 4 Figure 1.5 suburban aesthetic 4 Figure 1.6 landscape guide 8 Figure 1.7 design manual 8 Figure 1.8 LEED manual 9 Figure 1.9 smart scorecard 9 Figure 2.1 benefits 14 Figure 2.2 vision 14 Figure 2.3 let nature do the work 17 Figure 2.4 be water-wise 17 Figure 2.5 nurture nature 18 Figure 2.6 alive is better than dead 18 Figure 2.7 emphasize the local 19 Figure 2.8 waste nothing 19 Figure 3.1 Japanese-inspired garden 23 Figure 3.2 highly manicured 24 Figure 3.3 garden as the centre 25 Figure 3.4 native trees and shrubs 27 Figure 3.5 wildflower meadow 28 Figure 3.6 lawn: a familiar sight 30 Figure 3.7 typical suburban lawn 31 Figure 3.8 stormwater runoff „ 32 Figure 3.9 lawn as the centre 32 Figure 3.10 the perfect ground cover 33 Figure 3.11 soil horizons 37 Figure 3.12 mulch , 39 Figure 3.13 self-renewing 40 Figure 3.14 fence 42 Figure 3.15 retaining wall 42 Figure 3.16 outdoor furnishings 42 Figure 3.17 lifecycle 43 vi Figure 3.18 structures £t materials as the centre 43 Figure 3.19 hedge 44 Figure 3.20 planted slopes 45 Figure 3.21 treading surfaces as the centre 48 Figure 3.22 stepping stones 48 Figure 3.23 pavers 49 Figure 3.24 reinforced plastic rings 49 Figure 3.25 attract wildlife 50 Figure 3.26 migratory species 50 Figure 3.27 wildlife habitat as the centre 51 Figure 3.28 food for wildlife 52 Figure 3.29 attract insects 52 Figure 3.30 shelter for birds and bats 53 Figure 3.31 water use by sector 55 Figure 3.32 irrigation practices 56 Figure 3.33 the hydrologic cycle 57 Figure 3.34 surface runoff 58 Figure 3.35 from source to sewer 58 Figure 3.36 watersheds & supply area 59 Figure 3.37 be aware 60 Figure 3.38 water as the centre 60 Figure 3.39 reduce household wasting 61 Figure 3.40 be water wise while washing 61 Figure 3.41 energy consumption 66 Figure 3.42 embodied energy 67 Figure 3.43 energy as the centre 68 Figure 3.44 food cycle 73 Figure 3.45 food / production as the centre 74 Figure 3.46 espalier 75 Figure 3.47 growing your own food 75 Figure 3.48 solid waste disposed and recycled 77 Figure 3.49 waste production cycle 78 Figure 3.50 waste management as the centre 80 Figure 3.51 pesticides cause cancer in pets 83 Figure 5.1 \ existing site plan 107 Figure 5.2 existing backyard 108 Figure 5.3 existing front yard 108 vii Figure 5.4 proposed site concept plan 109 Figure 5.5 proposed site backyard elevations 110 Figure 5.6 proposed site front yard elevations 111 Figure 5.7 six principles applied let nature do the work 112 Figure 5.8 six principles applied be water-wise 113 Figure 5.9 six principles applied nurture nature 114 Figure 5.10 six principles applied alive is better than dead 115 Figure 5.11 six principles applied emphasize the local 116 Figure 5.12 six principles applied waste nothing 117 Figure A. 1 city scale 139 Figure A.2 neighbourhood scale 139 Figure A.3 street scale 139 Figure A.4 block scale 140 Figure A.5 buildings' position and size relative to site 140 Figure A.6 shadow diagram 141 Figure A.7 house overlaid on contour lines 142 Figure A.8 site as seen from south-west corner 142 Figure A.9 landscape coverage proportions 143 Figure A. 10 neighbours and views 147 Figure A.11 existing/proposed aerial perspective 147 Figure A.12 west planting plan 148 Figure A.13 east planting plan 149 Figure A.14 presentation panels 1 155 Figure A.15 presentation panels 2 156 Figure-A.16 presentation panels 3 157-viii a c k n o w l e d g e m e n t s I would like to thank my committee members, Ronald Kellett, Patrick Condon and Mark Holland for their inspiration, wisdom, support and patience while I spent nearly two years on my quest to complete this story. Thank you Ron for countless thesis meetings, where 1 would be challenged to think about taking things apart, look at them from different angles and try to figure out what was still required to make them fit back together again. Thank you Patrick enlightening me with the challenges and issues we face as landscape architects in a morbidly unsustainable culture through your delightfully blunt sense of humour. Thank you Mark for your enthusiastic passion for making a positive impact on the way people design environments and how people think about the consequences of their behaviours. I would also like to extend my deepest appreciation to Ron £t Gail Teed, for letting me use their beautiful new yard as an example of what's wrong with conventional landscape design, without taking offense, as only parents can. ix 1.0 i n t r o d u c t i o n 1.1 problem statement 1.2 hypothesis 1.3 goal Et objectives 1.4 positioning 1.5 research methodology Et deliverables 1.1 i n t r o d u c t i o n There is a problem in the suburbs that threatens the future of this way of life. The suburbs are unsustainable and unless individuals start making changes in the way they think about the way their choices impact the planet, the future of suburban society wil l remain threatened. "The development of a sustainable society involves the development of a more livable environment with less air and water pollution, and less waste to dispose of that can pose a threat to human health and the environment." (Cammalleri, et al, 1993, p 1.0.1) This project takes the reader on an exploration of the systems of which the suburban yard is a part, breaking down landscape elements to see them from various perspectives and scales (Fig. 1.1). By raising awareness and knowledge about the suburban yard's context, suburban proprietors may be encouraged to use their responsibility for their piece of this planet to make well-informed decisions about their yard. "Living Lightly" achieves this by documenting "tangible associations between choices and consequences that people can understand and to which they can relate" as stated in the Abstract of Sustainable Residential Development (ibid.). This document illustrates "simple & effective design strategies that ensure resources are used efficiently in development, construction and operation of housing, reducing botrrcost and environmental impact" (ibid., abstract). Fig. 1.1: By looking at the suburban yard from a different perspective, homeowners can become more aware of the effects it has at a larger context. The information and recommendations presented in this project support two main concepts. The notion of environmental health, whereby solutions wil l seek to promote optimum health and long term survival of suburban yards, and the ecosystem's approach, which sees "human beings and the human economy as dominating and integral components of the complex web of interrelationships among living organisms and the physical environment" (Healey, 1999, p VIII) (Fig. 1.2). Fig. 1.2: The ecosystems approach deals with complex interrelation-ships between living organisms and the physical environment. 2 This document identifies and incorporates Six Principles for a Better Suburban Yard as driving forces behind decision making, guidelines and recommendations. These six principles, described in detail in sections 2 and 3, are (1) Let Nature Do the Work, (2) Be Water Wise, (3) Nurture Nature, (4) Alive is Better than Dead, (5) Emphasize the Local and (6) Waste Nothing. Recommendations, based on the achievement of six principles for a better yard and other resulting social and economic benefits, wil l be discussed, giving the reader practical ideas that can be incorporated into their existing suburban yard. The recommendations were used to develop the Suburban Yard Scorecard (Fig. 1.3), the purpose of which is two-fold: First, the scorecard can be used by homeowners or designers to evaluate the existing condition of a suburban yard, seeing where the yard is manifesting best practice guidelines as well as the site's best practice deficiencies. Second, the scorecard can be used by those designing suburban yards to minimize the ecological and financial impacts and maximize Fig. 1.3: The Suburban Yard the ecological and social functions of the site. Scorecard 1.2 p r o b l e m s t a t e m e n t The detrimental effects of suburban sprawl are becoming increasingly apparent as populations rise and spread out around urban centres. Residential developments displace existing environmental systems, including waterand wildlife, and auto-oriented-regional planning distances people from the sources of their food, water and energy. Without changing the way we design our places of residence, our dependence on heavily-engineered, expensive and wasteful infrastructure will continue to wear away at our quality of life and undermine the functioning conditions of natural systems. While suburbanites have little control over how their suburbs were designed, they do have control over what happens in their own yards. By educating home owners about alternatives to financially and environmentally costly conventional suburban yard design and maintenance practices, they are in a position to make a conscious choice about their yard. As the numbers of homeowners choosing to reduce their dependence on distant sources of resources increases, some of the unsustainable characteristics of the existing suburban construct wil l be reduced (Fig. 1.4). 3 The fundamental construct of the suburbs is that it is a way of housing people in places that are neither urban nor rural. People are neither packed tightly with their neighbours nor isolated by great expanses of agricultural land or wilderness. The form of suburbs is one that provides space between neighbours, a privately held parcel of land and, due to the relatively low densities required to provide this, the dependence on automotive transportation to access for most daily tasks that occur beyond the residential property. The suburbanite can live on a day to day basis walking less and communicating with neighbours less than city dwellers. Although people choose to live in the suburbs for a variety of reasons including more square footage per dollar, quieter neigbourhoods and a higher perceived security, social isolation is also raised. Isolation also distances people from one another and reduces opportunities to be exposed to see and be seen by others and share ideas. Fig. 1.4: The suburban yard is a chance for individuals to reduce some of the unsustainable characteristics of suburban design (Photo: Byrd, 2004). There is a conditioned aesthetic in North America of what a suburban yard should look like and how it should be maintained. As evidenced by the millions of hectares of high-maintenance lawns, manicured gardens and larger-than-necessary driveways that make up our residential communities, this dominant suburban attitude and aesthetic has ousted nature and replaced it with a more perfect and yet inferior landscape that is at constant battle with the ecosystem (Fig. 1.5). The physical character of a typical suburban yard is married to a reduction of habitat value, extensive reliance on water and sewer infrastructure, and the ongoing production of air, water and soil pollution. The conventional yard: requires extensive energy inputs and produces great quantities of waste; resembles nature but in a highly manicured, low-functioning manner, and; is an unnatural aesthetic that causes harm to natural systems and is constantly at odds with natural processes. Fig. 1.5: The suburban aesthetic has resulted in forms that are at odds with the processes of natural systems. Image Reference 4 Suburban homeowners are making choices that directly affect how their piece of this planet looks and functions. Of the total Canadian housing stock, 57.2% of it is in the form of single detached dwellings (Statistics Canada, 2003). The cumulative area of privately-held residential parcels this represents a significant quantity of land. When looked at from the perspective of an individual land owner, each parcel is the responsibility of the few people who live there. At the scale of the parcel, the individual makes choices, informed by their unique attitudes, opinions and beliefs about a variety of things including their yard's place in the world. Although a suburban yard represents a rather tiny part of this planet, collectively suburban yards are having visible and invisible effects on the planet that go way beyond the property lines. Residential land use accounts for more than 50% of the total area in a typical Canadian city (D'Amour, 1991). Indeed, the degree to which our residential properties function has direct and indirect consequences for our cities, regions and planet. This project supports the convictions of Elizabeth Wilhide by campaigning for the power of individual consumer choice in bringing about positive change. In the introduction to her book, "ECO: An Essential Sourcebook for Environmentally Friendly Design and Decoration," Elizabeth Wilhide (2004) summarized this perspective eloquently: Each of us...can make a real difference; in fact, the best way of bringing about change may well be at the individual level. While experts argue and governments prevaricate, the choices we make as consumers represent direct action at its most immediate and effective. Collectively,_those consumer choices, multiplied across thousands of households, can have a crucial impact in preventing and even reversing harm done to our planet. Think global, act local, is the environmentalist's watchword. Where better to start than in our own individual environments: at home? 5 1.3 h y p o t h e s i s If suburbanites are informed about their options for the landscape design and management of their yards and understand the consequences of their decisions across scales, then they wil l be in a position to make better choices about how they manage their yards. 1.4 g o a l The goal of this project is to contribute to the general population's understanding of the importance of and best practices for sustainable design that wil l improve their ability to make decisions that minimize environmental impact and maximize ecological function of suburban yards. o b j e c t i v e s 1. Raise awareness about a the residential yard's role 6t impact in larger systems; 2. Offer options that reduce impact on larger systems and contribute to a healthy planet; 3. Develop a scoring system or checklist to steer or assess the sustainability of a suburban yard, and; 4. Illustrate the environmental, social and economic benefits of designing a yard that wil l score higher on the checklist as compared to a conventional suburban yard and in doing so demonstrate reduced impact and increased function To achieve the goal of this project the objectives listed above are intended to increase homeowner's awareness about options for landscaping their yard by providing an easy-to-understand resource that compares typical landscaping practices to alternatives. Comparisons are 6 based on environmental impact, cost and time / maintenance requirements. This project is a tool to improve understanding of people's place in the world, the consequences of their lifestyle on the world, and how changing their mind can affect their impact on the world. The information in this project is intended to educate people about the choices that they have (and, in some cases, that they have choices) so that they can make well-informed decisions based on their beliefs about their duty to the planet. 7 1.5 positioning This body of work amongst others An important consideration for the value of this body of research is locating it amongst existing documents that are also attempting to guide green design. Discussed below are the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation [CMHC] "Landscape Guide for Canadian Homes," the "Site Design Manual for B.C. Communities," the US Green Building Council's "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design," [LEED] and the "Smart Scorecard for Development Projects." A N D S C A P E G U I D E F O R C A N A D I A N H O M E S If To date, documents, including the " L ands cape Gu i d e fo r Canad ian H o m e s " (2004) (Fig. 1.6) as well as others, have been published by the CMHC and other companies and organizations that explore best practices for many aspects of the "sustainable" residential yard. These focus on alternatives that reduce energy inputs, make considerations for embodied energy and durability of landscape features, reduction of water use and waste, reduction of toxic pest and weed control, reduction of oil based fertilizers, and increasing biodiversity and habitat value. The best practices reported on in the CMHC publications are derived from the expert opinions of many professionals who have interests in improving the health of people and the environment. Many of the "Living Lightly" guidelines and scorecard questions are based on the guidelines of this CMHC document. Calculations for annual maintenance inputs of conventional vs. proposed designs are based on another CMHC document entitled, "Definitely in My Backyard: Making the Best Choices for You and The Environment" (2000). Canada Fig. 1.6: Landscape Guide Fig. 1.7: Design Manual The "Site Design Manual for B.C. Communities" (2003) (Fig. 1.7), published by the University of British Columbia James Taylor Chair in Landscape and Livable Environments, was written by Patrick Condon, Joanne Proft, Jacqueline Teed. This document establishes a context for basing best-practice design, reviews the outcomes of several community design charettes, formulates design guidelines and provides a so-called "sustainability checklist" for assessing communities as to how well they meet said guidelines. The format of this checklist has been borrowed and adapted in this project to present the "Living Lightly" suburban yard 8 guidelines in a scorecard that can be used to evaluate designed and built suburban yard landscape scenarios against the principles and guidelines of this document. The "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design" [LEED] |S| L E E D[ (Fig. 1.8) Green Building Ratine System is a tool that was created under the G r r c n g u M ^ ^ y ^ direction of the US Green Building Council. The LEED rating system "emphasizes state of the art strategies for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality" (USGBC LEED website). The LEED rating system's ' — p r i m a r y focus is the building envelope some credits are available for Fig 1.8: LEED manual landscaping. Until recently, there was very little in the way of landscape-related LEED points. However this is changing with the LEED for Homes Rating System, which, at the time of writing, is undergoing pilot testing. LEED for Homes "is a voluntary initiative promoting the transformation of the mainstream home building industry towards more sustainable practices. It wil l provide a much-needed tool for homebuilders, homeowners, and local governments for building environmentally sound, healthy, and resource-efficient places to l ive" (USGBC LEED Rating System for Homes website). The LEED for Homes Pilot Checklist allocates a maximum total of 14 available points for site sustainability out of a possible project total of 108. The 14 available points are from seven checklist points. In addition, there are four mandatory checklist points for sustainable sites. Living Lightly wil l focus only on the site and therefore will go into much greater detail of site sustainability than will LEED for Homes. The "Smart Scorecard for Development Projects" (2002) (Fig. 1.9) was written by Will Fleissig and Vickie Jacobsen in collaboration with the Congress for New Urbanism and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This document's purpose is to evaluate design of proposed communities to encourage adoption of Smart Growth principles. The ten categories that are scored are primarily focused on the spatial qualities, accessibility and mobility choices available, and material use and Fig 1 9- Smart Scorecard efficiency at a neighbourhood scale. There is one checklist point in the site design section that addresses site landscape design, but only goes as far to say it should be focused on the pedestrian experience. Section 7, Environmental Quality, touches upon a few of the areas of the Living Lightly project, but without substantiation as to why these are important. These are: green building materials, water conservation systems, local or regional vegetation on site, xeriscaping or drip water systems versus sprinkling and establishing a recycling program. While the Smart Project Scorecard is intended "to assist elected local officials, developers, investors, neighbourhood groups and designers" (Fleissig & Jacobsen, 2002), the Living Lightly project is for suburban home owners and designers/builders of suburban yards. There is 9 some overlap of the Living Lightly project with the Smart Project Scorecard in the areas of site design and environmental quality however Living Lightly dives into greater detail about the reasons why and the specifics of what. "Living Lightly" is not about Smart Growth, but rather about what can be done to reduce the impact and improve the function of the infrastructure that already exists. 1.6 introduction m e t h o d o l o g y Project recommendations and conclusions will be the result of a literature review, consultation with professionals, the definition and application of six principles for a better suburban yard and the simulated application of recommended landscape components to illustrate the use of the scorecard in a design/evaluation of suburban yard performance. The deliverables to be completed for this project are the research paper, including a set of guidelines and indicators, a scorecard for evaluation of suburban yards' congruencies with the best practice guidelines, an illustrative comparison of a conventional yard and a site redesign based on achieving the highest possible score on the scorecard and conclusions based on the findings of the research paper and illustrative site design. 10 2.0 t h e s u b u r b a n y a r d 2.1 vision 2.2 decision making 2.3 six principles for a better suburban yard 11 2.1 v i s i o n Over the past century, humans have become quite effective at engineering land for building developments. The evidence is all around us; Roads, subterranean infrastructure and buildings that, in general, stand up decently. To prepare the land for building it may be drained, lifted or compacted. Frequently other aggregate materials are imported to modify existing conditions and make an area fit for building. Typically, suburban development removes or disturbs much of the existing landscape features including vegetation, surface irregularities, active healthy soil and water courses. While it is not possible to go back in time and undo the damage that suburban development has caused, there is an opportunity to take a look at our existing suburbs and remodel them with the health of natural systems in mind. The key characteristic of the suburban structure that lends itself to rebuilding healthy natural systems is the high percentage of privately-owned open space. Suburban parcels generally consist of a house surrounded on all sides by open space. This open space, the yard, is characterized by a collection of components often including a driveway and or parking structure or surface, a lawn, garden, a fence, and a sun deck, patio or both. The problem with the suburban yard is not that we have them, but that the convention for their designed aesthetic is detrimental to the environment and our health. This report argues that people should put away the poison, stop needlessly wasting resources and work with nature rather than against. People could become more aware of the natural processes at work on this planet, in this region, and specific to their site. As people become aware, they begin to understand, and with understanding comes appreciation. As people appreciate the unique and complex environment around them, they strengthen-their relationship with it and raise their accountability for what they influence in the environment. This is stewardship. As people act as stewards to the environment, others in the community see this contribution and the affect it is having and their own interest in the intricate workings of their environment may be stimulated. And so on and so forth until more and more people understand and appreciate their environment and change their actions from ones that punish nature into ones that nurture nature. For some people, stewardship for the environment is sufficient to change their habits of fighting nature to working with nature, but for many, it is not. The shift to working with nature provides numerous tangible benefits for people that make it worth serious consideration. 12 Understanding and designing with nature's processes can result in lower material and installation costs (e.g. overbuilt decorative walls) and reduced annual maintenance costs (e.g. fuel, chemical applications). Considerate design and maintenance practices also reduce dependence on municipal infrastructure and precious resources, while at the same time reducing stress on waste and wastewater systems and result in a reduction of the associated environmental impacts. Keeping the yard free of toxic substances that can be absorbed or ingested by adults, children, pets and wildlife will improve the health of inhabitants and increase the yards natural resistance to pests and deficiencies. Low-maintenance yards allow people to spend more time and money doing more enjoyable activities. People can also benefit from the satisfaction and convenience and fun of growing some of their own fruits, vegetables and cut flowers. This provides opportunities for sharing between friends and neighbours, strengthening the social fabric of the community. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation supports a similar approach they call "Healthy Housing" which is a way of designing that contributes to "health, energy, resources, affordability and the environment" (CMHC, 2005). The CMHC also explains that "through well-designed landscaping, the garden need not be expensive to construct nor tedious to maintain" (CMHC, 2005). The notion of environmental health is supported by the CMHC and is one of the primary motivators behind the vision, principles and guidelines contained in this project. Health is defined for the purposes of this project, as "a condition of optimal well-being" ( The entry for 'health' in Wikipedia describes that in any organism, health is a form of homeostasis. This is a state of balance, inputs and outputs of energy and matter in equilibrium (allowing for growth). Health "also implies good prospects for continued survival" (Wikipedia website). It is generally understood that the health of an environment has direct implications on the health of that-environment-s-inhabitants. This is especially important to the ecosystem's approach. The ecosystem's approach sees "human beings and the human economy as dominating & integral components of the complex web of inter-relationships among living organisms and the physical environment. This approach recognizes not only the overwhelming importance of the human species in transforming the global landscape and ecological processes but also humanity's complete dependence on the ecological and physical processes that its actions continually al ter. " This project explores alternatives that reduce ecological impacts and improve ecological function. However the benefits of many ecological alternatives also notch up social functioning and reduce costs, particularly that of long term maintenance (Fig. 2.1). Sustainability has, for the past two decades, been the buzzword in everything from community planning, to business models, to resource management. The World Commission on Environment and Development defined sustainable development in 1987 as "development that seeks to meet the needs and aspirations of the present without compromising the ability to meet 13 those of the future" (Bruntland, 1987). Turing this notion into motivation for action will require strong arguments for why change is important and worthwhile for the individual. This document "describe[s] a range of consequences of our present pattern of decision making to illustrate why 8t how the relationship among environment, economy and society is not sustainable" (Healey, 1999). This document then bridges the gap between intention and action by providing "tangible associations between choices St consequences that people can understand and to which they can relate" (ibid., p 5). As stated in section one, the goal of this project is to contribute to the general population's understanding of the importance of and best practices for sustainable design that will minimize environmental impact and maximize ecological function of suburban yards. As people buy into the ideas presented in this paper, a shift toward the sustainable suburban yard aesthetic may accelerate. This vision is my own, but my hope is that it wil l become yours (See Fig. 2.2, p 15) Fig. 2.1: By improving ecological function, benefits will spill over into social and economic areas. Fig. 2.2: vision The suburban yard should function to mitigate the disturbance of the house by supporting the cycles and flows of natural systems while contributing to the health and economy of the individual and the community. 14 2.2 d e c i s i o n m a k i n g According to author Michael Healey in his book, "Seeking Sustainability in the Lower Fraser Basin" (1999), in our market-driven society, prospects for creating a more sustainable region rest in the decisions of the individual. In our opinion, sustainability can only be achieved by individuals making appropriate choices both in their day to day lives and as part of the various collective processes in which they participate. Our Common Future argued that the citizenry of developed nations should move toward sustainability by choosing courses of action that reduce their demands on natural resources while retaining their quality of life. 'Doing more with less' is the catch phrase. Although it is not immediately obvious how to accomplish this lofty goal, it seems clear that the dictum must apply to the choices we make as individuals since, in our democratic, market-oriented system of governance, the individual is the focus of political ft economic power (p 4). The decision making process is a complex evaluation of numerous variables that are unique to each individual. Everyone has attitudes, opinions and beliefs that inform their view of the world. These elements come into play every time someone makes a decision. In order for someone to make a decision about something, they must see value in the result of the decision. Values that people may gain from making a decision may be related to their attitudes opinions and beliefs around health, money, family, community, the environment or other elements that people see as having personal value. -The more people understand the consequences of their choices, including the value for them, the more likely people are to make choices consciously. If people are to be making conscious choices about their yard, it is important to base decisions on all of these factors from design and construction to maintenance. The information presented in this document reflects an approach that attempts to improve social, environmental and economic conditions. Particular focus is placed on the environmental values associated with reducing the impact and increasing the function of suburban yards because raising the bar for our relationship with the environment inevitably results in social and economic benefits. Michael Healey succinctly described the primary element to influencing decision making by saying, that in order to facilitate decision making, it is imperative to: Provide tangible associations between choices & consequences that people can understand and to which they can relate... we need to appreciate and experience sustainability at the local and regional levels as well as the global level if the concept is to have an enduring influence on our behaviour... 'Think globally & act 15 locally' will have lasting influence only if our local actions also have clear and immediate positive benefits for ourselves and our society." (ibid., p 5) To help people in their decision making process, information will be presented on the environmental, social and economic impacts of our current convention for creating and maintaining the suburban yard aesthetic. Section 2 contains a listing of Six Principles for a Better Suburban Yard. Adopting these principles alone could greatly improve results of decisions made regarding suburban yards. In section 3, alternatives to current practices, based primarily on guidelines from the CMHC wil l be presented and tangible benefits of those alternatives wil l be illustrated. In Section 4, a scorecard wil l present guidelines in a cross-referenced checklist format for simplified evaluation of suburban yards. For learners who are more visually oriented, Section 5 illustrates a real site with a design that incorporates the guidelines and shows the benefits of using the scorecard. 16 2.3 s i x p r i n c i p l e s f o r a b e t t e r s u b u r b a n y a r d The following six principles for a better suburban yard should be driving forces behind every design and maintenance decision around your yard: 1. Let nature do the work (Fig. 2.3) Nature has order, processes and self regulating behaviours that are constantly working to balance energy and matter. Nature has systems and structures that permit the effective management of stormwater, maintain biodiversity and keep species in balance with one another. Nature has good ways to do it a l l . Everything is part of a system, interdependent on other systems and everything is the result of processes that have been, are currently and will always be working on any given site. By understanding more about how nature does it , we can divorce ourselves from our desire to engineer 'better' (a.k.a. costlier, much less effective and way more destructive) solutions. In addition to the financial savings, we can-also save ourselves the time, energy and stress that we have programmed ourselves to believe is necessary to maintain, what our limited view of reality has taught us to be, an attractive yard. 2. Be water-wise (Fig. 2.4) This principle is about being conscious of this precious resource and keeping in mind several intentions: conservation, efficient use, and natural infiltration of water. The suburban yard is a place where it is easy to neglect ideas of conservation. Suburban yards have an endless supply of clean, treated drinking water at the turn of a faucet. Unfortunately, excessive use of this resource multiplied across the millions of suburban yards in this country creates a strain on our water sources. Learning how to use water smarter means doing more with less, so as the population grows Figure 2.3: Let nature do the work 4 4 4 4 Figure 2.4: Be water-wise 17 there will stil l be enough safe, inexpensive water for everyone. In the suburbs there is also a great opportunity to minimize problems at the source. Reduce problems of water quality and quantity that can negatively impact the aquatic life in rivers and oceans by allowing stormwater to absorb / infiltrate into the ground close to the source, rather than go down the storm drain. 3. Nurture nature (Fig. 2.5) Practicing sensitive land use reduces the destruction of nature, and Figure 2.5: Nurture helps to enhance the yard's beauty and ability to support wildlife. Suburban developments were once important parts of functioning ecosystems. The disruption of those ecosystems resulted in a loss of habitat space that has a direct effect on many species. Take the position that nature is inherently good and something there should be more of in the suburbs and incorporate plants that attract and support desirable species of birds, bats, butterflies, beneficial insects and small animals. These species are not only good for the health of the yard; they offer a chance to learn about nature's beauty. 4. Alive is better than dead (Fig. 2.6) The yard should be free of toxic chemicals that disrupt the natural functioning condition of plants, kill animals, have harmful health effects for people, and poison the soils, groundwater and landfills. Whether applied to the yards, stored in the house or shed or disposed of improperly these concentrated chemicals are poisonous and should not be purchased. For just about every chemical that claims to do something, there is a healthier, more natural way to accomplish the same objective. Figure 2.6: Alive is better than dead 18 5. Emphasize the local (Fig. 2.7) Shrink the impact have on the world by keeping things local. In an Figure 2.7: Emphasize increasingly globalized society, the resources and products people t h e l o c a l consume are coming from far away places more often. This means that on a daily basis, the impact of North American's lifestyles is on places much farther away than most have ever traveled. Make a conscious decision to shrink that dependence to a smaller space where the cycle is local and less wasteful of resources. Growing our own food is one way to ensure quality control, save money, provide opportunities to share with neighbours, and reduce dependence on the globalized food industry. 6. Waste nothing (Fig. 2.8) Minimize waste produced by the suburban yard. "Buy less; buy nothing 2 ' 8 1 W a S t 9 better quality products that last longer. Good quality products, particularly those in natural materials, often improve with use" (Wilhide, 2004, p 167). "Re-use building materials, such as bricks, paving stones, timber and t i les" (ibid., p 168) Waste nothing is also about "reducing material use and waste associated with construction; choosing materials that have low-environmental impact or are salvaged and recycled; and avoiding materials and decorative finishes with toxic components" (ibid., p 11). 19 3.0 l a n d s c a p e e l e m e n t s 3.1 landscape elements dissected 3.2 garden 3.3 lawn 3.4 soil 3.5 structures 6t materials 3.6 treading surfaces 3.7 wildlife habitat 3.8 water 3.9 energy 3.10 food7 production 3.11 waste management 3.12 chemicals 3.1 l a n d s c a p e e l e m e n t s d i s s e c t e d To better understand the complex interrelationships within the ecosystem and our society it wil l be useful to dissect the human-defined / designated entity, known as the suburban yard, into some generalized functional categories, which wil l be referred to in this document as landscape elements. This section explores each of the 11 landscape element categories that are present in most suburban yard situations. These are arranged into two subcategories, forms and flows: • Forms are the readily apparent physical features seen by the naked eye while looking at a suburban yard. The five basic forms found in nearly every suburban yard are: • Flows are the dynamic elements moving through the yard which are the result of and directly affected by form selection and maintenance practices. The six flows of the suburban yard that impact the larger context are: The exploration of each of the suburban yard landscape elements listed above begins with a primer to define and clarify it by its general characteristics, its relevance to the yard, how it commonly appears and /or what part it plays in the yard. Each suburban yard landscape element is discussed using an ecosystems approach that analyzed its impacts in relation to complexity and scale in a subsection entitled systems & centres. This subsection addresses the theme of complexity by way of an exploration of the physical processes on which the particular landscape element has impacts. The scale of impacts includes a look at the natural systems and engineered infrastructures that are involved in the (1) garden (2) lawn (3) soil (4) treading surfaces (5) structures & materials (6) wildlife habitat (7) water (8) energy (9) food/production (10) waste management (11) chemicals 21 functioning of a yard, imagining the yard as the centre to illustrate the distances to which the impacts of inputs and outputs are felt. Each landscape element exploration includes specific guidelines for minimizing impact and maximizing function that, when applied to a site, create results that are aligned with best practices published by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the ecosystems approach and some or all of the six principles. Guidelines for reducing impact and increasing function of landscape elements are suggested within the framework of the six principles for a better suburban yard. Nested under each guideline is a brief notation of which of the six principles the guideline achieves. The overarching intent of these guidelines is to improve congruency of the landscape components with natural processes. These guidelines are the rationale for each of the questions in the suburban yard scorecard, described in greater detail in section four. A comparison of conventional and alternative approaches within each landscape element demonstrate how the conventional way of doing things can be improved upon by making choices based on the six principles. This subsection illustrates the benefits of choosing best practice alternatives over conventional practices. The objective is to "provide tangible associations between choices and consequences that people can understand and to which they can relate" (reference). To summarize: Each landscape element is explored within 4 subsections: (1) A primer about the forms and flows; (2) The suburban yard landscape elements as-systems Et centres; (3) Guidelines for minimizing impact and maximizing function in relation to the applicable six principles for a better suburban yard, and; (4) A comparison of conventional and alternative options for the suburban yard landscape elements. 22 3.2 g a r d e n 3.2.1 Primer The suburban garden is characterized by a mixture of plants, usually arranged with an aesthetic or functional purpose in mind. Trees, annual and perennial shrubs and flowers, and ground cover are commonly found in virtually all suburban gardens. North American suburban gardens are shaped by a wide range of cultural influences. Elements from English gardens, Japanese gardens, and native landscapes are commonly integrated into garden design (Fig. 3.1). Garden design responds to the physical characteristics of the site (topography, soil), the local climate, and the utilitarian requirements of the human inhabitants of the site. Fig. 3 .1: A Japanese-inspired garden at UBC The domestic garden functions to bring nature closer to people. For most people in the suburbs, their garden represents their most immediate contact with nature. There are opportunities for observation of and interaction with the garden and the garden functions as a living indicator of the passage of time, revealing changes of climate, and interrelationships between plants, animals, energy and water. The garden can provoke the imagination and provide opportunities to learn about the environment we occupy. Gardens can be therapeutic, provide a canvas for expressions of individuality and be used to grow flowers and food. We can tend to and nurture gardens and as a reward, feel accomplishment and pride. Gardens also can be richly diverse biologically and provide shelter, food and water for many species of birds and creatures. 3.2.2 Systems 6t Centres Multitudes of gardens create networks between one another and important linkages between larger areas of intact forest that were disrupted when development occurred. They function to mitigate heat generated from sun reflecting off hard surfaces including streets driveways and roofs. When planted near buildings, trees and large shrubs decrease heating and cooling costs by blocking winter winds, and reducing summer sun exposure. Plants in gardens 23 actively convert carbon dioxide (produced by the burning of fossil fuels and decomposing waste) into oxygen. Gardens planted on slopes increase slope stability, preventing slides and slowing erosion, without the use of expensive retaining walls. Water is interrupted before hitting the ground by layers of leaves, branches, and flowers that diffuse the volume of falling water and protecting the soil from being washed away. This principle is appreciated by anyone who's stood under a tree in the rain. The layers in a garden, as in a forest, are also important for providing habitat and a diverse range of conditions (protected, exposed, shady, sunny, wet, dry, etc.) for a diverse range of plants and animals. Biodiversity is an ecologically valuable quality for gardens to have, helping to create habitat and supporting species that wil l balance each other out. A diverse garden not only supports the existence of the most species possible, it 's also beautiful. The suburban garden varies in its requirements for maintenance. Labour, mechanical equipment, pesticides, fertilizers, and water depend greatly on the kind of plants that are selected and the desired aesthetic for the garden, from formal (highly manicured flower beds and precisely shaped ornamental plants) (Fig.3.2) to casual (irregular, natural garden). Ornamental trees, shrubs and flower beds require considerable time, money and water to maintain. Also, fertilizer and pesticide use is generally much higher than with low-maintenance garden options. Fertilizers and pesticides decrease the soil's ability to maintain optimal health, harm beneficial organisms living in the garden and contaminate groundwater and the air. Ornamental plants are frequently exotic, which means they are imported from distant locations where they were native. Plants gathered from distant sources are less adapted to our local i- .. , . ,• . • . Fig. 3.2: A highly manicured suburban yard climate than native plants, which is why s s J , supplementary irrigation, winter protection, fertilizers and pesticides are often required. The energy expended in transporting exotic plants great distances also produces air pollution. Exotic plants may struggle in our climate or flourish, out-competing our native species and requiring additional control measures, such as regular pruning and weeding. With any garden, there wil l be organic material produced. The City of Coquitlam runs a yard trimmings collection program in which yard compost, including grass clippings, plants and flowers, pruned branches and Christmas trees, is picked up year round on garbage day (City of Coquitlam website). While the organic yard waste that is collected is diverted from the landfill 24 and used to make compost, additional trips by collection trucks results in additional C 0 2 production. (Fig. 3.3) Fig 3.3: Garden as the centre 3.2.3 Guidelines Focus: Choosing a diversity of plants that are suited to your sites soil sunlight, space and moisture conditions will increase the habitat value and beauty of your yard. A mixture of sizes forms and functions of plants well adapted to their specific location can provide protection from intense summer sun, create privacy, frame your house, provide fresh organic fruits and vegetables, create educational and play opportunities, define outdoor 'rooms' and generate attractive year round floral displays and leaf colour. Choosing the right species for your climate, soil conditions, space limitations and aesthetics wil l minimize the time and energy and money you spend pruning, weeding, fertilizing, applying pesticides and moving or replacing plants. Layering vegetation will provide more opportunities for wildlife to find food, water and protection while also functioning to reduce rainwater volume and velocity along the surface of your yard. "Native plants... are adapted to the environment (and thus tend to be hardier in the garden, requiring no chemical maintenance). Follow nature's lead by gardening with native plants, and you won't need to use chemicals" 1. Plant the right plant in the right location. "Choosing plants that are suited to your climate, soil, sunlight, space and moisture conditions wil l save you maintenance costs and time. Adopting the planting options like xeriscapes, woodland and wildflower gardens will also help." 25 (CMHC, 2004, p 2). Planting with the local bioregion in mind wil l also strengthen the yard's regional identity. ^ 4 A <D® •) 2. Choose a diversity of pest-resistant plant species to eliminate the need for synthetic chemical pesticides and increase your garden's odds when fending for its self. "A diversity of species that are insect and disease resistant reduces the use of pesticides which will save you time and money and minimize the impact on the environment" (ibid., p 99). Species poorly adapted to our bioregion cannot sustain themselves without chemicals applied to eliminate competition from weeds. These chemicals can soak into the soil, become airborne or be tracked into homes, where children and pets may be exposed to their noxious effects. ^ A® O 3. Plants can be used to separate areas, control pedestrian movement, and regulate views of and from specific areas of the yard, while providing multiple benefits including wildlife habitat value and beauty and are a way to reduce expense and maintenance associated with a fence. A ®@ « 4. Use trees or large shrubs to provide comfortable places to sit on hot summer days and help keeping the house cooler by shading it from intense sun. 5. Select non-invasive plant species for the garden and save a lot of energy many people spend controlling weedy species while giving native and non-invasive species more space to flourish. (Fig. 3.4) "Native trees and shrubs need less water than does grass. Because their roots are deeper, they often do not need watering. They also provide privacy and pleasure" (CMHC, 2005). 26 6. Keep ornamental trees shrubs and flower beds to a minimum and choose a low-maintenance woodland shade garden, wildflower meadow or xeriscape to save time, money and energy and attract birds (CMHC, 2004). Low-maintenance lawns, xeriscapes, wildflower meadows and woodland gardens have considerably lower irrigation demands than other lawn and garden options. Use flowering shrubs and perennials to Fig. 3.4: Native trees and shrubs require create floral displays as they do not need to be minimal maintenance replanted every year like annuals and bulbs. Choosing plants well adapted to your climate means that plants will survive year round, with little to no irrigation during summer, once established. Species that are of your local bioregion will help rebuild habitat networks that may have been disturbed when your neighbourhood was developed. Filling the yard with a diverse mix of plants wil l provide increased habitat value (shelter and food) for a wider range of wildlife species. 7. Reduce the energy and labour associated with frequent pruning and plant relocation by choosing plants with a mature height, spread and shape that is suitable for each location. 8. When deciding on what plants to plant and where, "Choose plants that require little water and group plants with similar water needs to conserve water." (GVRD, 2004) "Group plants according to their watering requirements to save time and water" (CMHC, 2004, p 114). C) 9. "Define edges of planting beds with borders to help contain the mulch and soil and reduce maintenance" (ibid.). ^ 4 / © @ () 27 10. Where unused lawn is suffering from overly dry conditions, consider planting an area as a wildflower meadow with a colourful mix of low-maintenance, drought tolerant wildflower perennials. (Fig. 3-5) A wildflower meadow wil l only require a trim once per year, and wil l attract butterflies and other beneficial insects to your garden. 4 / ® O Fig. 3.5: A wildflower meadow at UBC 3.2.4 Conventional/alternative comparison Table 3.1: conventional/alternative garden comparison According to a document by CMHC called "Definitely in My Backyard: Making the Best Choices for You and The Environment" (2000): the wildflower meadow and woodland shade gardens required less than one third the amount of time to maintain than any other type Annual Time Mintues/m 2 - Q E S E 9> co — •4-> <U E cu E o O r - O b . c _ io — a> o o 5 5 5 CD l l s i CD u CL c -M l 1 1 wildflower meadows and woodland shade gardens are the best options for minimizing annual costs Cost $/ m 2 • xerispace, wildflower meadows and woodland shade gardens are your best picks for minimizing annual water consumption (continued on p. 29) Water consumption L/ m 2 28 Table 3.1 (continued) • wildflower meadows need to be mowed once per year, but fuel consumption is less t h a n i / 8 t h of a low maintenance lawn and less than 1/16 t h of a conventional lawn Gasoline consumption ml/ m 2 no fertilizer is needed for woodland shade gardens or wildflower meadows Fertilizer inputs gm/ m 2 • pesticides (both organic and inorganic) are used in large Pesticide amounts on beds with inputs ornamental trees and shrubs gm/ m 2 compared with the negligible amounts used for woodland shade gardens, wildflower meadows and xerispace gardens. 29 3.3 lawn 3.3.1 Primer In Virginia Scott Jenkins' book, "The Lawn: A History of an American Obsession" (1994), she described the growth of popularity of the suburban lawn. Originally a miniature version of the well-groomed English country estates, the image of the suburban yard always contains a house surrounded b y a field of green. (Fig. 3.6) "The ideal house often was pictured in the middle of a manicured lawn or in a romantic, English-style garden. Developers of Fig 3.6: Lawn, a familiar sight in the suburbs abandoned farms at the edges of urban areas used grassy lawns as a relatively easy and convenient way to suggest the romantic English garden without the groves and waterways and distant vistas of the real thing, and the practice has continued among suburban developers throughout the twentieth century" (Jenkins, 1994, p 27). "The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Garden Club of America (GCA) each influenced both the desire and the ability of American homeowners to grow front lawns. The Garden Club of America, influenced b y the City Beautiful Movement, helped spread the new front-lawn aesthetic through school horticulture programs and community landscape contests. The agricultural revolution of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries and government support for research in a federal department of agriculture made possible appropriate lawn grasses for all the climatic environment of the United States. The popularity of the game of golf and of front lawns seemed to spread side b y side as the USDA, state agricultural experiment stations, and the USGA all cooperated closely to respond to homeowners' and golfers' demands for help in growing turf" (ibid., p 35). "Small gas-powered engines, such as those used in lawn and garden equipment, are less efficient and actually contribute significantly more air pollution per hour of operation than do the engines in cars. It has been estimated that as much as 5% of urban air pollution can be linked to their usage. And then there's the noise!" (US EPA Mid-Atlantic Region Green Landscaping website) 30 The lawn's primary functions are aesthetic. A manicured lawn implies human intervention. A lawn provides a uniform carpet of green that organizes space, separating vertical landscape elements like trees, plants and structures and provides a soft, uniform, and fairly durable surface for playing, lying or sitting. Conventional lawns are typically made up of a small number of fine turfgrasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass. The grasses are selected primarily for their attractiveness. To keep them green, homogenous and manicured, many people neatly mow them at least weekly and regularly water, edge, fertilize and treat them for pests insects, diseases and weeds. All of this can be time-consuming, costly and resource-intensive. Using fertilizers speeds up the rate of growth resulting in higher demands for water and mowing. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that over 70 million pounds of chemicals are applied to lawns annually. According to the US EPA, over $25 billon is spent annually on lawn care. "The average 1-acre lawn costs $700 and requires 40 hours of labor each year to maintain -- much more than a natural landscape" (US EPA website). 3.3.2 Systems Et Centres Collectively, the lawns of America cover well over 12 million hectares (30,000,000 acres) (Jenkins, 1994). This represents an area of land that functions lower ecologically than other vegetated landscape types. The suburban lawn is essentially a piece of land where all vegetation is removed and replaced with a monoculture of weeds that possesses neither significant ecological value nor exceptional benefits for the quality of life of residents. (Fig. 3.7) The lawn has evolved into a highly-artificial layer of the landscape on which chemicals and treated drinking water are applied to encourage growth, only to increase the requirements for curtailing growth using maintenance practices that are commonly noisy, malodorous and produce air pollution. With what systems does the lawn affect and what practical functions does it possess that we see value enough to perpetuate this ' S ' 3 ' 7 ' A t y p i c a l suburban landscape element? 31 The conventional lawn aesthetic is one that is an artificial, highly-engineered, meticulously maintained monoculture that contributes negatively to our air, soil, and water. Lawn contributes negatively to our air chiefly through maintenance practices employ internal combustion engines that produce air pollution, but also via the application of synthetic amendments such as fertilizers and herbicides which become airborne and can cause harm to humans, pets, wildlife and other plants. These chemicals also get carried into the soil by water, affecting soil quality and organisms that help maintain soil health. Lawn is less able to handle heavy rainfalls, resulting in increased water velocities on slopes and slope instability. (Fig. 3.8) Fig. 3.8: Lawn is inferior to plants in its ability to reduce stormwater runoff and stabilize slopes. The conventional suburban lawn requires extensive resources to maintain in the idealized aesthetic condition. The requirements for labour, mechanical equipment, pesticides, fertilizers, and water are high. At one end huge amounts of resources are necessary to maintain a lawn to the 'perfect' aesthetic standard while the resulting byproducts that are released from this form of landscape are far-reaching. (Fig. 3.9) "Operating a typical gasoline powered lawn mover for an hour pollutes the air as much as diving 560 kilometres. This contributes to climate change and creates health-damaging smog." (CMHC, 2000) 32 3.3.3 Guidelines 1. While better than an impermeable surface, lawns typically have very little habitat value. Turning low-traffic parts of your lawn into a meadow or garden wil l raise its ecological value significantly. Consolidate and minimize lawn areas to reduce maintenance time and associated energy and water consumption and sti l l meet the needs of residents for leisure activities, like kicking a ball, playing catch, badminton, or putting practice. Assess your needs for lawn as an activity or passive recreation space to determine an appropriate minimum area. After deciding how much lawn is needed for playing sitting and lying, replace the rest with a diverse mix of low-maintenance ground covers or drought tolerant plants. Areas of lawn should be kept to a size where maintenance can be accomplished using human powered tools like push mowers, rakes and brooms rather than noisy and polluting gas-powered equipment. " i f you're lucky enough to have a furry green carpet of northwest moss on your property, learn to love it ! People pay big bucks to have mosses put in their yards. It is the perfect ground cover: soft, green, zero maintenance and fairly traffic tolerant" (Rubin, 1989) (See Fig. 3.10) 2. Grow a lawn that can take care of itself. Keeping a conventional lawns lush and green all year round requires vast amounts of water. "Switch from thirsty, exotic grasses to hardy native varieties, and limit lawns to social and play areas." (CMHC, 2005) Conserve water by reducing lawn's watering and fertilizer needs by either planting a low-maintenance mix of grass seed Switch to a low-maintenance lawn to save Fig 3 .10: Moss just may be the perfect ground time, money fuel and fertilizer. Low- cover maintenance lawns function the same way as conventional lawns, but require less time, money, fuel and fertilizer and require no irrigation once established and no pesticides. Instead of growing Kentucky bluegrass, choose a low maintenance lawn mix that includes grass species that have staggered dormant seasons, so there is always at least one active and green species in each season. <S> C) 33 3. If you're not ready to make the switch to lawn alternatives, at the very least use less fertilizer to save water and maintenance headaches. Trimming only the top third of the lawn's height wil l build the lawn's root system, making it more deep-rooted, resilient and better able to out perform weeds, without fertilizer. "Each time you mow your lawn, mow tall and cut only one-third of the grass length. This wil l produce a vigorous, deep-rooted lawn that is better able to out-muscle weeds and tolerate minimal sprinkling." (GVRD, 2004). By keeping lawn at least 10 cm high and by leaving grass clippings on the lawn you will be help your lawn retain moisture (reducing the need to water) and replenish essential nutrients in the soil. "Leave grass clippings on the lawn. 'Grasscycling' not only cuts down on waste and work, the clippings left behind can supply up to 25 per cent of your lawn's fertilizer needs" (ibid.). Be tolerant of yellowing grass during the hot summer months. This is the dormant season for conventional lawn. Spreading chemicals on your lawn to eliminate competition has many adverse affects on human and ecosystem health. Learn to put up with a healthy lawn as opposed to a perfect lawn and the health of your family, friends, and environment wi l l improve. Using an electric or manual maintenance equipment to mow and tidy the yard instead of gas powered equipment will reduce air pollution associated with the maintenance of your yard. Electric equipment, while still contributing to pollution problems (at generating plants) is significantly more efficient (less polluting) than those with gas engines. The most environmentally friendly type of lawn equipment is human-powered. And, it's good exercise, too. (US EPA website) 4 ^ ® O 34 3.3.4 Conventional / alternative comparison Table 3.2: conventional alternative lawn comparison According to the CMHC in "Definitely in My Backyard: Making the Best Choices for You and The Environment" (2000), a low maintenance lawn: requires about half the annual time inputs compared to a conventional lawn Annual Time mintues/m 2 Conventional Lawn Low-Maintenance Lawn costs only 20 % of what a conventional costs to maintain Cost $/ m 2 1 uses no water compared to a conventional lawn's requirement for 37L per m 2 Water consumption L/ m 2 uses half as much gasoline as a conventional lawn Gasoline consumption ml/ m 2 uses one sixth as much fertilizer as a conventional lawn Fertilizer inputs gm/ m 2 1 1 uses no pesticides compared to a conventional lawn which had over 5 grams per m 2 applied Pesticide inputs gm/ m 2 35 3.4 s o i l 3.4.1 Primer The inhabitants of your garden are directly relative to the health of your garden. The health of your garden is relative to the health of your soil. Soil, as much as climate, determines what plants can thrive. Which plants thrive determine which wildlife wil l select your yard as habitat. As much as the climate conditions in your area, the soils in your yard determine what wil l flourish or struggle. Knowing the quality of your soil wil l be as important as understanding the microclimatic conditions of your site when selecting plants, considering soil amendments or changing landscape features. 3.4.2 Systems ft Centres Soil contains varying levels of organic and inorganic compounds. "The relative proportion of [inorganic compounds], sand, silt and clay particles," (CMHC, 2004) make up the soil's texture. Whereas the organic content of soil, called humus, is the source of nutrients for plants and organisms living and growing in your soil (Ibid.). The CMHC document, entitled Get to Know Your Soil (2004) describes the importance of humus in the soil: Humus is produced from the decomposition of raw organic matter such as leaves, branches and lawn clippings, which accumulates on the soil surface—Decomposition returns vital nutrients to the soil for use by living vegetation. Humus is later carried down to the 'A' horizon by means that include water, insects and earthworms. A soil's humus content has a direct veering on its fertility, structure, porosity, moisture and drainage. In sandy soil, added humus can improve water-and nutrient-holding capacity. In clay soils, it can improve aeration and drainage. It is possible to increase humus content by adding organic matter, such as compost, manure or decayed leaves. However, it may make more sense to plant species that are adapted to infertile soils that have lower humus content if you have those conditions. A common type of texture of soil in the GVRD is called loam. "Loam is made up of about 40 per cent sand, 40 per cent silt and 20 per cent clay, along with plenty of humus. Loams retain moisture and are fertile and friable" (Ibid.). Healthy soil consists of an organic layer, a topsoil layer and two layers or horizons below (See Fig. 3.11)... Healthy soil with good structure may contain up to 25 per cent air. Compaction eliminates the vital air spaces between soil particles and is 36 the single most significant impact on soil structure and porosity... Sites with a history of construction or agricultural use, mixing, tilling, filling or excavating my have significantly altered some horizons. If your soils are relatively undisturbed, be careful not to overmix the layers when working the soil. Overmixing can bury organic matter and healthy soil organisms too deeply. Soil is an important environmental characteristic that affects a plant's ability to survive and thrive in the garden. Choosing plants that are adapted to growing in the soil that already exists in a yard wil l reduce the cost and energy associated with importing top soil and/or having to replace plants that are not adapted to the conditions. An analysis of the yard's relative soil moisture, fertil ity, and pH prior to choosing and installing plants, wil l reduce plants stress. Get to Know Your Soil, by the CMHC (2004), reviews the basics of soil classification and what to know before choosing and installing new plants: • Soil is typically graded as wet, moist or dry. organic layer A horizon B horizon parent material F i g . 3.11: S o i l h o r i z o n s : W a t e r w o r m s a n d i n s e c t s c a r r y n u t r i e n t s f r o m s u r f a c e d o w n i n t o t h e A h o r i z o n w h e r e p l a n t s a b s o r b t h e m . N u t r i e n t s ( a n d c h e m i c a l s ) c a n g e t c a r r i e d d e e p l y i n t o t h e s o i l a n d c a n s h o w u p i n g r o u n d w a t e r . Soil fertility is the soil's capability of storing and releasing plant nutrients. The main nutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Fertility depends in part on soil texture and is directly proportional to the amount of humus and organic matter in the soil. • pH is the measure of a soil's acidity or alkalinity. Most plants do well in soil with a neutral pH of 6.6 to 7.4 or in slightly acid soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Always check soil pH before selecting plants. Select plants that are adapted to your soil's pH unless soil is so alkaline or acidic that it cannot support any plants. Concrete surfaces, salt spray, intensive irrigation and other factors can increase soil pH and create conditions that are hostile to many plants. Organisms are a vital component of healthy soil systems and should be encouraged, not killed. The Get to Know Your Soil (Ibid.) offers some advice on the topic: A great many life forms - from microscopic fungi, bacteria, algae, protozoa and nematodes, to larger creatures such as springtails, ants, earthworms and moles -live in healthy soils. They contribute directly to the health and vigor of plants. 37 Bacteria, for instance, decompose organic matter and release the nutrients essential for plant growth. Earthworms, ants and other insects, through burrowing, aerate the soil and carry humus from the surface to lower layers. Mycorrhizal fungi form symbiotic relationships with the roots of certain plants, helping them get water and nutrients. Improper use of pesticides can seriously affect your soil's microbial community, as can repeated cultivation. A soil depleted of its microscopic flora and fauna loses its ability to decompose organic matter and becomes less fertile. It will have poorer structure and porosity, and be less hospitable to plants than a soil rich with life. A diversity of beneficial organisms can also help control organisms that can harm certain plants. On its fertilizers website, the City of Ottawa reaffirms the CMHC's recommendations for the natural maintenance of soils by offering words of caution about the use of chemicals to disrupt the natural soil systems found in the suburban landscape: Chemical/synthetic fertilizers feed the plant but not the soil. Over time there is a gradual decrease in organic matter in the soil, as it is used up, and the soil becomes compacted. The lack of organic matter leads to a reduction in soil organisms making it more susceptible to insect or disease infestations" (Ottawa website - fertilizers). In the natural environment, soil is self-sufficient. Using chemical treatments, such as pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers kills beneficial insects and decreases the ability of the soil to be self-renewing. 3.4.3 Guidelines Focus: "Healthy soil is essential to the health and vigor of your garden" (CMHC, 2004) Worms inseets and water distribute humus on the surface down into the A horizon where uptake by plants is possible. Shrubs and perennials help soil retain moisture and reduce the need to water. 1. Picking "the most suitable plants for your usually more ecologically sound and less costly than trying to redesign your soil for unsuitable plants" (ibid.) Select plants that are suited to your soil and site conditions, such as shade and anticipated rainfall. Plants that are adapted to your site's soil wil l require the least help to grow and wil l be strong and healthy. Soils more than 75 cm deep offer better growing conditions than shallower soil and can support a greater variety of plants. Many plants are well adapted to shallow soil. If you live in a region with shallow soils, confirm that species are suitable when selecting plants, (ibid.) Selecting plants suited to your soil minimizes the need for amendments but there are situations where soil amendments are unavoidable, including food gardens or other specialized plantings that 38 may not be as easily tailored to your soils. Amendments can also be helpful when establishing new plants. 2. "Reduce erosion and stabilize slopes using plants instead of lawn. Plants make excellent slope stabilizers and control erosion and can be less expensive than lawn in the long-term. Their roots stabilize the soil while their stems and leaves slow down runoff and the impact of raindrops and wind that leads to erosion" (CMHC, 2004, pp 32-3). ^ 4 / ® < § > 0 3. Organic material, available for free from a backyard composter or mulch helps sandy soil hold nutrients and water, and improves aeration and drainage in clay soil. (See Fig. 3.12) As a renewable and readily available resource, compost is a particularly desirable amendment. Own and utilize a composter to complete a production/waste loop turning organic household and yard waste into a free amendment that is nutrient rich, improves aeration and will help your soil retain water. The preferred approach is to plant suitable species, but you can work in amendments, or use a combination of the two approaches. Compost is used as a primary soil amendment, rather than synthetic B * ^ . ^ " ' amendments or imported top soil. Applying compost to your garden reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides. Finished compost used on gardens and lawns or in planters improves the soil by releasing nutrients slowly, reducing soil erosion and reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides. Excess use of these products can lead to runoff and contamination of local waterways. (CMHC, 2005) "Organic matter dug into the soil or applied annually as topdressing or mulch material is the best way to insure that the soil is a healthy growing environment for plants" (Ottawa website - fertilizers). Using home made mulch and compost on the lawn or around trees to improve soils ability to hold water, particularly in the dry summer months. Fig. 3.12: Mulch is the best soil amendment, and it can be made for free. 4 A mm o 39 4. The long-term goal is to reduce and even eliminate the continual need for materials to amend your soil. Yards and gardens can become healthy, relatively self-sustaining ecosystems in which soils, plants and other living organisms support each other. Healthy living soil is full of insects and organisms that wi l l continually mulch and enrich soil. (Fig. 3-14) The use of chemicals that can kill the organic nature of topsoil should be avoided. Worms and insects in the soil wil l not only help aerate and improve the soil, they provide a food source for birds and small animals. Understanding the properties of the site's soil is one step towards achieving this goal (CMHC, 2004). Soil amendments are targeted to places that need it (like food gardens or establishing new plants) rather than over the whole yard. Soil should be amended selectively, only where needed, rather than amending soil over the whole yard whether it needs help or not. 5. Preserve quality and condition of soil when undertaking excavation or grading work to save money and minimize impacts. The structure, porosity and organic content of soil is a product of the behaviours of worms, insects, and microorganisms that live in the soil. Soil wil l improve over time as the decomposition of organic materials near the surface are pulled through the soil by bugs in the ground. Established soil has the processes in place that make it a valuable medium for growing. If earth moving is necessary, "stripping off, saving and reusing existing topsoil during excavation or grading work will reduce costs, provide healthy soil for plants and reduce environmental impacts" (ibid., p 30-1). "During construction or earth moving the existing ground level is preserved as much as possible while accommodating buildings and site features (mature trees, water courses, patios, pathways, driveways, etc. )" (ibid., p 28). "A conscious effort to balance the quantities of materials cut and filled [should be made] to avoid the energy and costs associated with trucking them in or out. (ibid., p31) Fig. 3.13: In a natural state, soil is self-renewing. 4 4 ®% O 40 3.4.4 Conventional / alternative comparison Table 3.3: conventional/alternative soil maintenance Benefits indicated for adopting practices that minimize impacts and maximize function: Picking the most suitable plants for soil conditions Plants used to stabilize slopes and reduce erosion Use of compost to amend soil Targeted amendments Preservation of soil structure, volume and proper grading lergy vings ist vings source vings aintenai duction ater vings aste duction 01 in o co U to <D to E t > to > m V 3.5 s t r u c t u r e s & m a t e r i a l s 3.5.1 Primer Structures, for the purposes of this document, are defined as the manufactured vertical elements of the landscape. 'Structures' is a broad category of common suburban yard accessories. In the context of the suburban yard structures include fences (Fig. 3.14), play equipment, walls (Fig. 3.15), sheds, decks and furniture (Fig. 3.16). They are human-scaled elements with functions responding to human behaviours. Structures can function to organize space, provide comfort, improve privacy, regulate views, contribute to an aesthetic, control movement, provide security, facilitate elevation change, provide shelter, facilitate interaction with the outdoors and create opportunities for enjoyment, play and/or learning. Structures contribute to the values of the property owners and are an expression the unique identity of the property and its proprietors. Inanimate materials are the building blocks, so to speak, of the structures in the landscape. Materials, which are not exclusive to landscape structures/furnishings, include wood, metal, concrete, stone, brick, plastic and glass. There is no shortage of ways these materials can be shaped and used (and often blended with one another) to create composition and surface qualities of landscape structures. Fig. 3.14: Fence made of untreated cedar planks. Fig. 3.15: Retaining wall using a popular material, precast concrete blocks. Fig. 3.16: Outdoor furnishings, trellis, and patio made of pavers. 42 3.5.2 Systems & Centres The manufacturing process takes raw materials and creates materials or products that may go through further processes to install them on site. Source materials are extracted from their natural or human-created origin and transported to the location(s) where they are refined and manufactured. The manufactured product or processed material is delivered to a retailer where it awaits purchase by a customer. The purchased product or material is then transported to the site where it is to be used and/or installed (the structure). After the structure has served its designed purpose and is to be removed, there is a decision made about the method of disposal. The structure may be transported to a regional landfill, recycled into the source material for a new product, or reclaimed for use in another context or form. Each location change results in the production of air pollution. Due to an abundant supply of source materials and cheap fuel, the life of structures is frequently a linear one. Choosing to reuse and recycle structures (or investment in more-durable structures) reduces impacts on resources, landfills and air quality (Fig. 3.17). co2 site # 2 L . co2 I co2 I I source manufacturing retailer site #1 landfill co 2 W co 2 co 2 co 2 I I I I 1 1 i co2 co2 Fig. 3.17: The linear lifecycle of products/structures can be looped by recycling and reusing furnishings. inputs outputs beyond • • regional neighbourhood Fig. 3.18: Structures & materials as the centre. 43 5.3 Guidelines Focus: Where appropriate, employ plants to do the job of structures, e.g. cedar contains natural preservatives, Include plants on structures, plant a tree instead of an arbor. Design and build structures with the local climate/rainfall in mind. Encourage rainwater to run off of structures into an area where it can be absorbed or reused. This wil l reduce ageing and deterioration due to weathering. Easy to clean surfaces. New materials should be sourced from readily renewable resource bases. Minimize the quantity of resources consumed during the construction process. Materials are sourced from within 500km of the site, ( -section 5.4) 1. Use fences that control pets when necessary, but encourage interaction between neighbours with improved visual and/or physical access. Support the creation of a backyard network. If privacy is desired, use a living 'fence' such as a hedge or trees appropriately selected for mature size and form and space available. Use vegetation to create privacy as a living alternative to a high fence (Fig. 3.19). F i g . 3 . 19 : U s i n g a h e d g e p r o v i d e s a l l t h e p r i v a c y b e n e f i t s o f a t a l l f e n c e p l u s h a b i t a t v a l u e a n d b e a u t y . 2. Locate play equipment carefully and incorporate it with site features to encourage interaction with nature, imagination and opportunities for challenge and play over time. Finishes are low toxicity. Choose preservatives that cause the least possible harm to soil and children. 3. Reduce use of retaining/decorative walls to the acceptable minimum. Walls should be made of durable materials that can be reused, such as pre-cast concrete blocks or stones (Fig. 3.20). Vegetated slopes can be used in place of retaining/decorative walls in many cases. They get more durable with age and provide habitat value that walls don't (and usually provide cost 44 savings). Planted slopes are cheaper, stability improves over time, provide habitat value, slow water rainwater velocity, provide changing visual interest year round. 4. Choose furniture that is made from 100% post-consumer thermoplastics gathered in curbside Fig. 3.20: Natural materials and planted slopes collection programs or recycled utility and reduce the need for retaining walls telephone poles. Buy furniture and structures that are made locally from materials (preferably recycled) that were generated locally. Rescue furniture, reclaim structures and materials and buy recycled or used materials. Look for safety and play tiles made from post-consumer recycled tire rubber ^ 4 d®@ 0 5. Take measures to build a quality deck that wil l resist weathering, last a long time and wi l l be easy to maintain. Ensure a "Durable, quality construction with concrete deck foundation projected above the surface of the ground so the wooden posts do not touch the soi l " (CMHC, 2004, p.81). "There should be an air space between the ledger and the house. The deck is designed to minimize construction waste. Wood edges that are cut during installation treated with a paint-on preservative or stain" (CMHC, 2004, p 82). 4 0 45 3.5.4 Conventional / alternative comparison Table 3.4: conventional/alternative structures £t materials Conventional Alternative Pressure treated lumber Cedar contains natural preservatives Overbuilt decorative or retaining walls Planted slopes are cheaper, stability improves over time, provide habitat value, slow water rainwater velocity, provide changing visual interest year round Standard fencing separates neighbours, restricts safe play opportunities for children Fences that function to control pets but encourage interaction between neighbours with improved visual and/or physical access. Support the creation of a backyard network. Catalogue play equipment Play equipment incorporated with site features to encourage interaction with nature, imagination and opportunities for challenge and play over time PVC or metal furniture (benches/tables) Furniture made from 100% post-consumer thermoplastics gathered in curbside collection programs or recycled utility and telephone poles. 46 3.6 t r e a d i n g s u r f a c e s 3.6.1 Primer Treading surfaces are those surfaces specially designed with the intent to support vehicular or pedestrian traffic. These include driveways, walkways, paths, patios, steps and ramps. The goal of areas designed for treading is that they create a safe and practical surface for walking and parking in just about every climatic condition. They must meet certain standards, including keeping a clear and stable route through the rapid removal of water from their surface so that puddles do not accumulate. Treading surfaces provide a clearly defined area for human activities and are often defined by their absence of plants. 3.6.2 Systems & Centres Large areas of paving have many consequences for the immediate landscape and the larger context. Impermeable paving inhibits rainwater from soaking into the ground, often tunneling water into storm drains where its volume and velocity increase as it moves through smooth impermeable pipes that collect water from many other paved surfaces including roofs, yards, roads and parking lots. Large quantities of waste water get dumped into natural water courses, causing harm to water quality and the fish and wildlife that live in and alongside the water body. Large paved areas are also dead areasinterms of their ecological and wildlife value:—They separate air and water from the soil, reducing the land's ability to support life. The installation and maintenance of paved surfaces requires energy, water and oil and produces harmful byproducts that are released into the air, soil and frequently bodies of water. Bulky and heavy paving materials generally have to be transported from their source to their destination, sometimes over long distances, resulting in additional C 0 2 production for their transport (Fig.3.21). Roads, driveways, patios and parking lots not shaded by trees increase the heat felt during hot summer days. Urban, commercial and, to a lesser extent, suburban landscapes, the presence of impermeable surfaces result in what is known as the 'heat island effect. ' According to the Environmental Protection Agency, "this phenomenon describes urban and suburban temperatures that are 2 to 10°F (1 to 6°C) hotter than nearby rural areas. Elevated temperatures can impact 47 communities by increasing peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air pollution levels, and heat-related illness and mortality." (EPA: Heat Island Site - website) inputs outputs regional neighbourhood Fig. 3.21: Treading surfaces as the centre (from manufacturing & transportation 3.6.3 Guidelines Focus: Seek out building materials from local sources and use materials commonly found in your region. Proper installation of durable materials wil l extend the lifespan of treading surfaces. Recycle paving materials that are being removed. Use pavers with recycled content (i.e. plastic, rubber, concrete). 1. Minimizing impermeable areas for pedestrian and vehicular treading, (patios walkways and driveways) to their acceptable minimum will have numerous benefits for your yard, neighbourhood and region (Fig. 3.22). "Limiting paved areas to the acceptable minimum required to meet your needs [for movement, parking, and entertaining] wil l reduce volumes of stormwater runoff, improve soil moisture and reduce heat in the summer" (CMHC, 2004, pp 65-6). Reducing impermeable surfaces wil l also beautify the yard and provide more habitat area for wildlife. 4 ® 0 Fig. 3.22: Stepping stones are a good surface for heavy foot traffic in all weather conditions and they have only minimal impact on permeability. 48 2. Maximize permeable treading surfaces by using crushed stone, permeable pavers, etc. (Fig. 3.23) It is preferable to allow water to be absorbed into the ground whenever possible. Treading surfaces that are not permeable or cannot absorb water rapidly during heavy rainfalls should slope towards an area where water can be detained or slowed so that water can be absorbed into the ground without impeding mobility vehicular or foot traffic or vehicular needs. Use more durable materials for walkways with intensive use and materials with lower embodied energy (such as bark mulch, flagstone and crushed stone) where the intensity of use is lower. To improve permeability of areas for driving/parking, consider installing two strips of paving for vehicular circulation with grass between the strips or choose permeable paving materials, such as pre-cast concrete pavers, loose aggregate materials or reinforced plastic rings Fig. 3.23: Pavers can be spaced to allow water to easily be absorbed into the ground. Fig. 3.24: Reinforced plastic rings can permit parking on grass - a great way to maximize permeability of vour DroDertv. that permit parking on turf (CMHC, 2004, p 66). (Fig. 3.24) 3.6.4 Conventional / alternative comparison Table 3.5: conventional / alternative treading surfaces Conventional Alternative Asphalt or concrete driveway, large and impermeable Permeable driveway/parking, pavers, gravel, reinforced grass rings, cobblestone, slate Overbuilt walkways Durability and size of paths in response to actual traffic and to maximize permeability Runoff onto street or into storm drains, puddles Runoff onto permeable areas designed to slow storm water and allow for infiltration into ground 49 3.7 w i l d l i f e h a b i t a t 3.7.1 Primer One of the reasons people enjoy having their own yard is that it represents their most immediate contact with nature. Nature is dynamic and alive. The inhabitants of any place, (be they mammals, birds, rodents, reptiles, insects, or microorganisms) are present because the environmental conditions are right for them to exist. Inhabitants are a symptom of habitat. When a habitat is working wel l , it wil l be fil led with a biologically diverse collection of interdependent species of plants and animals. (Fig. 3.25) This biodiversity of species functions in symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationships that regulate growth and maintain the health of the ecosystem. Just as a suburban yard contains a house, it is also home to many smaller creatures. They can't offer rent money, but inviting them to stay will benefit the yard in many ways; Controlling pests and providing visual interest, to name a few. Fig. 3.26: Many species call our region home. Many migratory species use our region as a place to rest on their long journeys. (Byrdhouse) 3.7.2 Systems & Centres The species that live in an area are reflective of the environmental conditions of that place. A garden that is planted with native species wil l do a good job supporting local species of wildlife. Many migratory species of birds also rely on the shelter and food our bioregion provides during certain times of the year. (Fig. 3.26) By removing familiar plants and native conditions, migratory birds have a harder time adapting to the environment at this stop on their migration. In addition to birds many small animals share this region with the human residents. 50 The satisfaction of environmental stewardship is not the only benefit humans can enjoy for designing and maintaining their yards with wildlife habitat in mind. Insects provide many benefits to the garden including keeping the soil healthy and well aerated and providing food for larger animals, like birds and bats and spiders, which in turn, help to moderate insect populations. Bees pollinate flowers and worms help to turn organic waste into nutrient-rich humus and help to circulate it down to the garden's roots. Encouraging wildlife habitat is a great way to support the health of the garden while expending minimal time, money and energy. Before suburban development in the 1960s, the area of Coquitlam containing the subject site in Section 5 was a second-growth forest. The original old growth forest was removed sometime from the mid- to late-19 t h Century when the original settlement, one primarily agriculture in nature, occurred. (Coquitlam website - City History Et Heritage) Due to the virile soils and temperate rainforest climate, the forests that had been removed in the 19 t h Century are now thick forests in areas of parkland and riparian buffers along streams. These forests create a patchwork of multi-layered habitat linked by intermittent trees and gardens woven through suburban yards in an ad hoc fashion. This network of forests, gardens, fields and waterways connect to habitat areas in adjacent, and eventually distant, bioregions. The linkages of nature areas are important at both a local and regional level to support the movement and survival of all species that occupy them (Fig. 3.27). The suburban yard provides an opportunity to mitigate the damage suburban development caused to the natural conditions of the area by rebuilding habitat through garden design. Fig 3.27: Wildlife habitat as the centre 51 .7 .3 Guidelines Focus: Create and maintain your garden with habitat in mind to attract birds and creatures and enliven your yard. Wildlife is pretty adept at finding a place to live. By designing to attract certain types of species, those species wil l be attracted year after year. A diversity of wildlife in the yard regulates species to maintain a state of environmental heath including the health of plants and soil. Many species that are seen in gardens in southwestern BC are migratory and rely on local habitat areas to rest and refuel before and after a long journey. 1. Plant a diversity of plant species to provide shelter and food for birds, animals and insects (Environment Canada website) (Fig. 3.28). If you can, reduce the size of your lawn. Lawns are of little use to wildlife and they require extra water, fertilizer and pesticides. By minimizing areas of low habitat value (lawns, paved surfaces) the yard becomes a better habitat for local birds and wildlife. Fig. 3.28: Grow plants that create a food source for the types of wildlife you wish to encourage. 2. Using native species will help attract songbirds because they are familiar. Birds will look for a habitat with easy access to food, water and shelter. Native species provide food as well as cover, and are not as likely as introduced species to dominate other native plants. "Providing food for birds is as simple as including native plant species, a good mix of fruiting and flowering plants that bloom or bear fruit throughout the year and some plants that attract insects" (Environment Canada website) (Fig. 3.29). Fig. 3.29: Attract insects that will enliven your yard. 3. Create landscape features that increase wildlife habitat value. This means creating opportunities for a variety of species with different needs. Birds, bats, butterflies and 52 beneficial insects wil l be attracted to areas where they can find shelter, food and water nearby. "Shelter includes nesting places that protect birds from predators such as hawks and cats, and from harsh weather. Evergreen trees, shrubs and thick brush piles provide good cover" ( Use bird feeders and birdhouses. (Fig. 3.30) "[Grow] bushes and trees that provide them with food and shelter and maintain a birdbath" (Environment Canada website). A good location for a birdbath will give birds a view of approaching predators and opportunities for a quick escape. "The water should always be clean; regular scrubbing is required. Ponds should be placed in sunny locations, bird baths in shady ones. Birds are attracted to running water. If you can, hand a dripping hose or bucket over the water source, and conserve water with a recirculating pump" ( Fig. 3.30: Provide shelter for birds and bats and reap the benefits of having a yard that's biologically diverse. 4. "Keep your domestic animals under control. Domestic cats kill millions of songbirds every year. A bell around the neck of an outdoor cat alerts birds". (Environment Canada website). Keep domestic animals under control and design wildlife habitat areas so that they aren't harmed by pets. Provide habitat areas that wil l not be damaged by pets and design areas where birds and animals can be safe from domestic animals. Although the vast majority of insects found in the garden are beneficial, predatory species can help control insect populations and prevent problems. "Build homes and shelters for bats, toads and butterflies. (One toad can eat as many as 1,500 earwigs in one summer)" (Environment Canada website). <D<§) 5. Avoid the use of pesticides. "Many birds die every year after feeding on lawns immediately after treatment with short-lived pesticides." "Look for less harmful ways to control insects and weeds. Or, live with them - crabgrass and wasps are wildlife too. " (Environment Canada website) 5 3 3.7.4 Conventional / alternative comparison Table 3.6: conventional / alternative wildlife habitat Conventional Alternative Little intent to create Designed to encourage birds, butterflies, bats and beneficial insects to inhabit yard Yard designed without consideration for migration patterns and developing habitat for local species Yard designed to improve habitat connections within neighbourhood and at regional scales Large areas of lawn Minimal lawn, native plants including evergreen trees and shrubs, variety of fruiting and flowering shrubs 3.8 water 3.8.1 Primer Canadians are the second largest per capita users of water. Canada has 9% of the world's annual renewable freshwater supply. 57% of Canadians are served by wastewater treatment plants. Although water is a renewable resource, it is also a finite one. The water cycle makes available only so much water each year in a given location. That means supplies per person, a broad indicator of water security, drop as population grows. Global water use has more than tripled since the 1950s to 4,340 cubic km per year. Residential water servicing costs $.50 to $.60 per cubic meter. Canadian cost (1989) $.36 per 1000 l itres." (Environment Canada Fact Sheet) Litres (billions) T! 4 M B P ~T ij"/ Daily Canadian Water Use -1994 Fig. 3.31: Water use by sector. H Residntial • Commercial • Industrial "In 1994, the residential sector used over 7 billion litres of water per day in Canadian municipalities, compared to 2.5 billion litres used by the commercial sector and 2.3 billion litres by the industrial sector." (Go for Green Fact Sheet #5) "Average daily water consumption for the region is about one billion litres. The one-day record for consumption is two billion litres - enough to fi l l BC Place stadium. The total storage capacity of the Capilano and Seymour Reservoirs is 64 billion litres. But, even if these two facilities are ful l , it isn't enough water to sustain the demand placed on the supply during peak demand periods in the summer." ( Residential water use increases by approximately 50% in the summer, due to lawn and water gardening and car washing. (Fig. 3.31) In other words, half of our average household water use is for landscaping. (Go for Green Fact Sheet #5) "In 2001, Coquitlam residents and businesses used 363 million litres of water per day." (GVRD Water Consumption Statistics) 55 3.8.2 Systems Et Centres One of the luxuries we in North America enjoy is the simple and abundant access to fresh, clean drinking water. All we must to do is turn on the tap to have an endless stream of this life-giving resource. We use tap water around the house and yard to clean, flush, irrigate and drink. Although easily taken for granted, the water that comes through our homes and yards is still very much a part of a larger system, the hydrologic cycle. The choices we make with regards to water, whether conscious or unconscious, have multiple direct and indirect effects on this system. A basic understanding of the hydrologic cycle wil l help with the understanding of other systems. Like other cycles it has no beginning and no end, it circulates (See Fig. 3.33, p58). Fig. 3.32: Some irrigation practices are inefficient and wasteful. 56 Fig. 3.33: The hydrologic cycle ( 57 Nowhere in this cycle are there pipes, taps, drains, or endless networks of smooth, impervious asphalt and concrete that we generally see as necessities for life in civilization. Every time we divert water from its natural course, we are disrupting this cycle and having an impact on the environment that is bigger than most of us realize (Fig. 3.34). As individuals the most direct influence we can make is the way we think about water. Understanding how the water that comes from our taps gets there and where it goes after we've used it is an important part of being water wise. F i g . 3 . 3 4 : A r e a s w i t h m u l t i p l e l e v e l s o f v e g e t a t i o n r e d u c e s u r f a c e r u n o f f , p r e v e n t i n g l a r g e v o l u m e s o f w a t e r f r o m e n t e r i n g n a t u r a l w a t e r w a y s a t h i g h v e l o c i t i e s . ( C o n d o n , e t a l . , 2 0 0 3 ) All of the water that we use in our homes and yards is a disruption to this cycle. Fresh water is in abundance in Coastal British Columbia as compared to most other places in the world. However, fresh water must travel a long way and be treated several times before we get to taste, spray or flush it. Potable, or drinkable, tap water is supplied to Coquitlam by both the Seymour and Coquitlam Watersheds. From the point of contact with the watershed until it is launched onto your lawn or used to hose down your vehicle in Southwest Coquitlam, a drop of water wil l have traveled travelled a total of 40 - 46 km. Between 16 and 30 km of that trip to that same spot in Coquitlam wil l be via large water mains (Fig. 3.35). F i g . 3 . 3 5 : F r o m s o u r c e t o s e w e r - W a t e r m o v e m e n t f r o m u p p e r w a t e r s h e d s t o a h o m e i n C o q u i t l a m a n d t h e n s e w a g e p a t h t o A n n a c i s Is. W a s t e - W a t e r T r e a t m e n t P l a n t 58 AU the water that is supplied to homes by the GVRD is safe, high-quality drinking water collected in three watersheds; Capilano, Seymour, and Coquitlam (Fig 3.36). The water is put through a treatment process to remove bacteria using ozone as a primary disinfectant. Chlorine is added as a secondary treatment to ensure that bacteria do not form during the journey from reservoir to your tap (GVRD website). In addition to the ongoing costs of water treatment, the installation, maintenance and replacement of potable water infrastructure also has costs. According to an Environment Canada Fact Sheet, residential water servicing costs $.50 to $.60 per 1000 litres. However, the average Canadian pays just $.36 per 1000 litres for their water. In Coquitlam, households pay a flat rate of $189 per year for their water, or about $0.52 per household to use an unlimited volume of water. Fig. 3.36: Watersheds and supply area - Map of Capilano, Seymour and Coquitlam Watersheds and the areas to which they supply water. (Environment Canada Website - Water) Where that water goes after we've soiled and contaminated it is another story. One little island in the geographic centre of the GVRD is the destination for the sewage of one million people, "including commercial and industrial waste-water" ( Those one million people are part of "the Fraser Sewage area, which includes New Westminster, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, White Rock, and the City of Langley, most of Burnaby and Surrey, and portions of Delta, Vancouver, Richmond and the Township of Langley" (ibid.). "The water is treated at the Annacis Island Waste/Water Treatment Plant and then "discharged to the Fraser River" (ibid.). Additionally, "there are four other waste/water treatment plants in the Lower Mainland - Iona Island, Lions Gate, Lulu Island and West Langley treatment plants - to serve West Vancouver, North Vancouver (City and District), Vancouver, Richmond, parts of Burnaby and Langley" (ibid.). These vast volumes of water coming from high up in the North Shore Mountains, being transported for as much as 100 km, chemically treated and contaminated along the way, and then being dumped back into the natural system at one of only a few points is massively different from the natural hydrology of this area. Sewage treatment is never 100% effective at removing everything that is harmful to our waterways either. Making conscious choices about what we are putting down the drain as well as how much can change the results at both ends of our water infrastructure system and have direct and far reaching effects on the natural systems that are part of this hydrologic cycle (Fig. 3.37, Fig. 3.38). 59 Fig. 3.37: It is important for us to be aware of where our water comes from and where our wastewater ends up. Fig. 3.38: Water as the centre 3.8.3 Guidelines Focus: The main intents of being water-wise is water conservation, efficient water use, and natural infiltration of water to reduce problems of water quality and quantity that negatively impact the rivers and oceans and the aquatic life that need them. "Doing more with less is the first and easiest step along the path toward water security. By using water more efficiently, we in effect create a new source of supply" (Wilhide, 2004). The natural flows and patterns of both the rainy and dry seasons help connect us to nature and allow us to experience its rhythms. Emphasize the local is about shrinking the size of the impact we have on the world. It now takes a conscious decision to shrink that dependence to a smaller space where we can trust that the cycle of which we are a part is a good one, and not excessively wasteful of resources (Fig. 3.39). 60 1. Selecting plants that are suited to your climate and soil is a great way to significantly reduce the demand on municipal water resources, particularly during the summer when water consumption is highest. Careful plant selection, coupled with wise watering habits, can significantly reduce outdoor water use without affecting the lushness of your landscape. F i g . 3 . 3 9 : S i g n i f i c a n t l y r e d u c e h o u s e h o l d w a s t i n g b y b e i n g m i n d f u l o f w a s t e f u l p r a c t i c e s . ' © < > 2. Equip your garden hose(s) with a spring loaded trigger nozzle to save about 300 litres of water each time you wash your car. "And never clean the driveway or sidewalk with the hose. Use a rake and broom and save about 200 litres of water every time you sweep" (Environment Canada website - No Time to Waste). 0 F i g . 3 . 4 0 : B e w a t e r w i s e w h i l e w a s h i n g y o u r v e h i c l e b y u s i n g a s p r i n g t r i g g e r n o z z l e o n y o u r g a r d e n h o s e . 3. Retrofit your lawn by "keeping thirsty turf grass to a minimum - or replacing it instead with wither native ground covers such as ivys, periwinkle or junipers, or flower beds, patios and walkways" (Ibid.). A low-maintenance landscape will give you a lush, green yard year round without having to irrigate. 4 /®<DO 61 4. Capture and reuse stormwater on site by directing stormwater to planting beds or using rain barrels to collect water from downspouts (CMHC, 2004, p 51). "Cisterns (water storage tanks) are an effective way to collect and save rainwater. They can provide water for all outdoor needs and reduce use of the community's sewer system" (CMHC, 2005). This reduces the reliance on the municipal water supply for irrigation and makes good use of a free resource. Harness the water that falls on your yard and distribute it so that it can infiltrate back into the soil close to where it landed. Minimize careless and wasteful use of treated drinking water. 5. Where irrigation systems are necessary, implement high-efficiency systems instead of portable above-ground sprinklers. "Drip irrigation, timers and sensors, properly planned in-ground sprinklers and soaker hoses use considerably less water than portable above-ground sprinklers, reduce evaporation water loss and more effectively deliver water to plants roots" (CMHC, 2004, pp 55-7). "A drip irrigation system, placed on or below ground level, eliminates water losses due to run-off and evaporation from conventional sprinkler systems" (CMHC, 2005) 6. Ensure water drains away from your house, patio, driveway and shed (CMHC, 2004, p.44) Protect buildings and their foundations by directing water away and reduce reliance on drains and municipal storm sewer. 7. Minimize impermeable surfaces. Regular asphalt driveways or concrete patios prevent water from soaking into the ground. To reduce runoff from your property, limit the size of impermeable roof and paved areas and use permeable surface materials that allow water to soak into the ground. 8. Ensure all water that falls on your property is managed on site and therefore not affecting drainage on neighbouring sites. Help reduce harmful soil erosion by taking measures to channel rainwater run-off so that it collects and then filters slowly down through the soil, rather than running off rapidly into storm drains or streams (Environment Canada website). "Rain gardens, flat areas and soak-away pits collect stormwater from areas of runoff, slow it down and allow water to be infiltrated into the ground and relieve water volumes entering the sewer during 62 rainy weather" (CMHC, 2004, pp 46-51). Stormwater, especially which falls on slopes, roofs and driveways can be slowed and absorbed into the ground, reducing demands on stormwater (municipal system and offloading to neighbouring sites). Water is being provided directly to our site from the sky as part of the hydrologic cycle. What is provided naturally is all the water needed to sustain climate-appropriate vegetation on the site. Prior to development, the land that your house is built on had all the necessary natural mechanisms to slow down rainwater and allow it to infiltrate into the ground and evaporate back into the sky. Even though there has been disturbance from your yard's natural functioning state, nature can be mimicked to restore some of that function and take the burden and cost off of municipal infrastructure. Be mindful that everything that runs into a drain flows at high velocities to one collective point where it is discharged into the Fraser River. Many toxic pollutants cannot be removed completely before treated waters return to the natural system. Fish lay eggs in the same water bodies that our waste water ends up. Reducing the volume of water being routed into these water bodies at high velocities wil l help protect fish habitat. 63 3.8.4 Conventional / alternative comparison Table 3.7: conventional / alternative water comparison Conventional Alternative Rainwater falling on roofs is quickly dumped into the storm sewer through downspouts Divert excess stormwater from the sewers by detaching downspouts and using rain water to irrigate the garden Drains are expensive and relocate water from where it can be slowly infiltrated to a place where increases volumes and speeds of water are dumped back into streams and rivers Save money on infrastructure and the environment by using paving that allows for water to permeate. Overflow can be absorbed into a rain garden Large areas of impermeable surfaces offset the natural infiltration of water into the soil and place a greater burden on our sewer infrastructure Reduce impermeable coverage with innovative permeable structures for vehicular driving/parking and stepping stones or crushed stone for paths instead of concrete Large areas of unshaded lawn are difficult to keep green during the typically dry summers in the GVRD Plant shade trees, let grass grow long or maximize native garden areas to reduce irrigation requirements A hose left running while washing your vehicle wil l use 400 litres of water A spring-trigger spray nozzle wi l l save about 300 litres of water per vehicle wash Table 3.8: Constrains / benefits of irrigation techniques Irrigation Technique Constraints Benefits Oscillating Sprinkler Much water lost to evaporation Ineffective water application Often results in watering sidewalks and driveways Inexpensive to set up Portable Hand Watering Time Conscious connection between water use and plant requirements Rain Barrel Initial Cost Requires no potable drinking water Saves roof runoff from going down the drain Drip Irrigation system Initial cost Very effective at maximizing efficiency of water delivery to plants Requires minimal amounts of water Very little maintenance 64 Table 3.9: Constraints / benefits of stormwater management Stormwater Management Technique Constraints Benefits Catchment Drain Cost Contributes to load on municipal sewers St rivers Prevents rainwater from being infiltrated where it falls Relocates water where it can't be effectively infiltrated Permeable Surfaces Initial Cost Eliminate need for 'hard' infrastructure Reduce heat-island effect Rain Garden Initial Cost Beautifies yard Attracts birds and wildlife Slows water during heavy rainfalls and allows for infiltration Prevents downhill water damage Bio-swale Initial cost Beautifies yard Adds biodiversity Attracts birds Et wildlife Slows water during heavy rainfalls and allows for infiltration Prevents downhill water damage 65 3.9 energy 3.9.1 Primer Energy has many forms. The main categories are kinetic, potential and radiant. Kinetic (moving) energy also encompasses thermal, sound and electrical energy. Potential (stored) energy encompasses chemical and nuclear energy. Radiant energy is that of electromagnetic waves and includes light energy. The interdependent relationships of natural processes involve the absorption, conversion, storage and release of energy within the ecosystem. The health of systems, just like organisms, depends on the pursuit of homeostasis, or balance of inputs and outputs of energy and matter. The energy transferred through interactions with sun, wind, soil and organisms that inhabit the landscape, free from our influence, is generally understood as being in a state of homeostasis, or health. Our main concern as humans is the impacts that our choices have on energy. In the context of the suburban yard, potential energy exists in fuel for equipment and barbeques, as well as the operation of vehicles on site. Kinetic energy is used during the manual work done in the yard as well as during the operation of fixtures or tools that use electricity (converted to radiant energy in lights). The yard and its manufactured or human-manipulated parts all contain embodied energy, which is the total energy used "to extract, manufacture, transport, construct, maintain and dispose of" materials (U. of Manitoba). The energy investment to create the suburbs is extensive. The physical forms that define the suburbs, including low densities and convenient access to ample supplies of cheap resources, have resulted in a high level of energy input per capita. International research in major cities showed gasoline consumption is directly related to density [and that] lower density US cities had the highest gasoline e n e r g y c o n s u m p t i o n per capita lGj) 350 -i 344 90 total energy consumption (Pj) 342 9t r 350 1*M Ayira A s t a i m d Europe s n d U^'SSta' N o * W O f M m m ft»Racifc CweaiAsia A r o s f a Fig. 3.41: Per capita, North Americans consume nearly six times the world average and as a population, we account for well over one quarter of the total energy consumption of the entire world. (United Nations Environmental Programme) 6 6 consumption rates" (SmartGrowthBC website). The lifestyle of Americans and Canadians result in the release of over 4.5 tonnes of C 0 2 per person every year (eartheasy website). "The car is the largest contributor (41%) to greenhouse gases and when residential emissions are added (8%), almost half of GHG in BC can be attributed to transportation and the way we lay out our cities "Canada is second only to the US in its per capita consumption of fossil fuels" (SmartGrowthBC website). 3.9.2 Systems & Centres "There are two issues associated with the use of fossil fuels: a concern about the long-term availability of fossil fuel resources and the potential impacts on the climate of greenhouse gas emissions (global warming) from fossil fuels consumption" (Burnaby Mountain Community Corporation). Energy is found in fossil fuels is converted into propulsive energy for useful purposes such as operating vehicles and gas-powered landscape maintenance equipment using internal combustion engines. "Generally internal combustion engines... produce moderately high pollution levels, due to incomplete combustion of carbonaceous fuel, leading to carbon monoxide and some soot along with oxides of nitrogen Et sulphur and some unburnt hydrocarbons (wikipedia website -internal combustion engine). Nitrogen oxides released during the combustion of fossil fuels are "hazardous to both plant and animal health" (ibid.). Nitrogen oxides "are believed to aggravate asthmatic conditions, react with the oxygen in the air to produce ozone, which is also an irritant and eventually form nitric acid when dissolved in water. When dissolved in atmospheric moisture the result can be acid rain which can damage both trees and entire forest ecosystems" (ibid.). It is the various oxides of nitrogen that make up the smog seen over urban areas. Embodied energy is the total energy used "to extract, manufacture, transport, construct, maintain and dispose of" materials. "The embodied energy in the extraction and manufacture of common materials, measured in kWh/kg, suggests that there is a strong relation between a material and its 'closeness' to the earth before refinement" (University of Manitoba Sustainable Community Design website). The chart to the right (Fig. 3.42) illustrates the relative embodied energy of commonly used construction materials. 67 The University of Manitoba's Sustainable Community Design identifies some landscape construction materials with low embodied energy: • sand, gravel 01 kWh/kg • wood 1 kWh/kg • concrete 2 kWh/kg • sand-lime brickwork ... .4 kWh/kg • lightweight concrete ... .5 kWh/kg In addition to the construction of conventional landscapes, ongoing maintenance also requires energy, both of the human sort and electricity or oil to fuel mechanical gardening equipment. Lawn, in particular is the source of much of the ongoing energy consumption of suburban yards. No garden typology uses as much fuel as a conventional lawn (CMHC, 2000). Lawn requires a continual input of energy due to the frequency it gets mowed and the conventional maintenance equipment, often gas-powered mowers, trimmers and blowers. What other plant requires pruning every one to two weeks? Conventional lawn (maintained to the conventional, short, thick evenly-green carpet) is guilty of being one of the most labour intensive plants in the suburban landscape. Lawn also consumes more fuel to maintain than any other suburban yard component (ibid.) (Fig.3.43) Fig. 3.43: Energy as the centre 68 9.3 Guidelines Focus: Reduce the use of non-renewable fossil fuel resources and decrease the amount and impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on our climate, ( 1. Following principles and guidelines for a low-maintenance landscape wil l greatly reduce energy use in the suburban yard, both in the form of fuel and manual labour. Choose garden typologies that don't require gasoline- or electric-powered equipment to maintain. By planting plants according to their space, water and soil requirements the garden can virtually take care of itself. The most sustainable land use is seen in natural green corridors and forests in the immediate area. The closer your yard resembles these natural areas, the less time, money, and energy inputs will be required to maintain it . Not only does keeping a conventional lawn trimmed extremely short require frequent mowing, it also increases the rate of evaporation, drying out the lawn faster than if it was mowed less frequently. Air Pollution from Lawn and Garden Equipment: Environment Canada website -Transportation Systems Branch Most Canadians may find it difficult to associate gardening activities with air pollution. However, engines used to power lawn and garden equipment are contributors to air pollution. The following are some tips on how Canadians can reduce emissions from lawn and garden equipment. Avoid spilling gasoline when refilling gas cans and equipment tanks. Refrain from using outdoor power equipment during hot, hazy summer days when smog problems are acute. Improve engine performance by carrying out the recommended maintenance. Follow the manufacturer's recommended gasoline to oil blending ratio when using a two-stroke engine. When using a lawnmower, reduce the mowing time by sharpening blades, by cleaning the underside of the mower, and by planning an efficient mowing route. 2. Use of materials with low embodied energy and installed to be durable. Choosing landscape structures and materials and site furnishings that contain low embodied energy will also contribute to reducing the environmental impact of your yard Take the time to winterize equipment each fal l . Consider cleaner options for lawn and garden equipment such as electric equipment or manual tools. 4/( ® 0 3. Non-polluting maintenance techniques are selected over noisy, malodorous and polluting maintenance methods. Non-polluting maintenance techniques like push-movers, brooms, and rakes reduce mechanical noise and smells and support a quieter, more livable neighbourhood that is more habitable for birds, wildlife and humans alike. Human-powered tools (e.g. push mowers) and using materials with lower embodied energy reduce the amount of toxic chemicals associated with the yard. 4. Utilize trees to shade the house sun during the hottest times of the year and reduce solar heat gain ( A mature tree can block between 60-90% of the summer sun. Deciduous trees that loose their leaves in the winter allow sun to warm and light the house in the winter. (University of Minnesota) 5. Exterior lighting (including landscape and building) should be energy efficient (eg. compact fluorescents), solar powered, properly directed and motion sensor activated, where appropriate. Lighting design should incorporate energy efficiency and minimize light pollution while improving nighttime aesthetics and site security. Take advantage of freely available energy such as that from the sun. Consider solar powered garden lighting. Use energy efficient outdoor lighting that is motion-sensor activated or solar-powered and that is directed appropriately to light up the right areas and be shielded from shining up into the sky. 0 70 3.9.4 Conventional / alternative comparison Table 3.10: conventional / alternative energy comparison Benefits indicated for adopting practices that minimize impacts and maximize function: Low-maintenance yard design on c > u on c > 0) u c ro £ c o £ = E 2 on c > CO c o QJ i f s s s y s s Use of materials with low embodied energy and / installed to be durable Non-polluting maintenance techniques ^ Trees positioned to reduce building's solar heat gain during the hottest times of the year • • V Lighting design incorporates energy efficiency: motion sensor activated / solar powered s s s 71 3.10 food / production 3.10.1 Primer The suburban yard has the potential to provide rewarding functions not only to the environment, but also to the residents. The decision to consciously plant, nurture and reap the rewards of food and flower production can have physical and psychological benefits. Residential gardening is an immensely popular hobby across the globe and in many countries it still represents a significant source of food supply. In North America most food is produced at a great distance from where it is consumed, the suburban garden is rarely used to produce much food for human consumption, but the potential remains. In Brian Halweil's document Home Grown: The Case for Local Food in a Global Market. (2002) He explained, For the better part of human history, and even as recently as several decades ago, most people obtained their food from local sources... A survey of trends from a number of nations and regions clearly indicates a growing distance between the fields and pastures where most food is grown and the mouths it feeds... Part of the reason we are moving more food around the planet is demographic: there are more people living in cities and fewer living near the centers of food production. Perhaps longer storage and more distant (as well as cheaper) shipping helped the food system sprawl. Wikipedia's entry for gardening describes the difference between farming and gardening by saying, "Gardening is done on a smaller scale, primarily for pleasure and to produce goods for the gardener's own family or community" (2006). Gardening is a hobby with the purpose of growing food and/or the production of flowers for use in crafts, cut flower arrangements or gift bouquets. Gardening for this purpose is by nature, highly labour intensive, and therefore is generally restricted to a small plot in the yard. Since most food and flowers grown for this purpose are ornamental and/or exotic, the maintenance requirements are much higher than with native species. The use of soil amendments, i.e. compost, and supplementary irrigation, in addition to frequent pruning, winterizing and reseeding, are generally necessary. The dedication of even a small part of the yard to production is sufficient to yield ample amounts of food and flowers. 72 3.10.2 Systems Et Centres "Long distance travel requires more packaging, refrigeration, and fuel, and generates huge amounts of waste and pollution (Fig. 3.44). Products enduring long-distance transport and longterm storage depend on preservatives and additives, and encounter endless opportunities for contamination on their journey from farm to plate. Instead of dealing directly with their neighbor, farmers sell into a long and complex food marketing chain of which they are a tiny part - and are paid accordingly" (Halweil, 2002, p 15). "Long distance food erodes the pleasures of face-to-face interactions around food and the security that comes from knowing what one is eating" (Ibid, p 16). "Eating lower on the marketing chain will often be healthier because buying more food first generally means eating more fresh fruits and vegetable, and because many of the extra steps between the farmer and the consumer remove nutrients and fiber and add fat, sugar, salt and other f i l lers" (Ibid, p 64). Monocultures of crops are less productive (have less yield per square unit), requires more synthetic soil amendments and pesticides. In a study of farming economics, it was calculated that farmers spent nearly 10% more to raise food than they earned from the sale of the food. Most of their expenses were on the purchase of "ferti l izer, pesticides and land made to distant suppliers, creditors or absentee land owners... The current structure extracts about $800 million from the [south-eastern Minnesota] region's economy each year (Ibid, p. 23). fertilizer Fig. 3.44: Food cycle transportation processing packaging mouth landfill w W ( nea r l y 1 / 3 of l a n d f i l l w a s t e is f o o d sc raps a n d p a c k a g i n g ) The great distances involved in transportation of food consumes more energy than we can absorb from the food and creates air pollution (C0 2) (Fig. 3.45). "Several surveys from different wholesale markets in the United States show that fruits and vegetables are traveling between 2,500 and 4,000 kilometers from farm to market" (ibid, p 17). Centralized distribution of food 73 results in the consumption of large amounts of fuel and takes up additional road space, all the while becoming less fresh (ibid). "A l l things food traffic requires staggering amounts of fuel... Among the biggest culprits are those high-value items with relatively low caloric value and high water content, such as cut flowers, fruits, vegetables and frozen foods" (ibid, p 18). Frequently, the areas for growing food also demand significant irrigation, stressing the water sources that supply the farms. Fig. 3.45: Food / production as the centre 3.10.3 Guidelines Focus: A lawn or a driveway offers little in the way of productivity. When looking at a yard for its productive area, we see that many yards are underutilized. That wasted space that could be used to produce food for resident's consumption. The production of food ultimately leads to sharing with neighbours and family. If there are kids that wil l be using the yard, have a garden for them to grow fun edible plants like sunflowers, pumpkins and strawberries. Make a teepee out of bamboo stalks and grow climbing beans over it. Water collected from roofs and intentionally-directed surface runoff from other impermeable surfaces can be used to irrigate plants that bear food and flowers for human use. Maximize irrigation efficiency through the use of a drip irrigation system. 1. Include fruit trees/bushes on site. "Not only do most fruit trees have aromatic flowers in spring, they also bear colourful fruit in the summer and f a l l " (University of Minnesota). Fruit trees and berry bushes not only produce food for humans, but for birds as well . Creative incorporation of food-bearing and productive plants can have them serve multiple purposes. 74 For example, a living fence using espalier to provide food for resident on both sides, an arbor covered in fruiting or flowering vines is attractive and productive, or fruit trees that provide food and shade (Fig. 3.46). 2. Include a food garden for growing organic fruit and vegetables on site. Food gardens increases self sufficiency, provide fresh produce and create opportunities for sharing with neighbours. The climate of southwestern British Columbia lends itself well to growing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and flowers. By establishing a small food garden, a fruit tree or a cutting garden, suburban homeowners create opportunities to reap their own organic produce and flowers for their own enjoyment or sharing with family, friends and neighbours. Local food production at the most immediate level and helps reduce dependence on distant food sources (Fig 3.47). ©<§><} F i g . 3 . 4 6 : F r u i t c a n b e g r o w n o n a n e s p a l i e r , F i g . 3 . 4 7 : G r o w i n g y o u r o w n f o o d i s f u n , h e a l t h y a n d r e d u c e s d e p e n d e n c e o n d i s t a n t f o o d s o u r c e s ( S t r u t y n s k i , 2 0 0 5 ) . 75 3. Include a cutting garden to provide an attractive flower display that can be used for creating cut flower arrangements to be enjoyed indoors or for home-made bouquets as gifts. /®®0 3.10.4 Conventional / a l t e r n a t i v e comparison Table 3.11: conventional / alternative food / production Benefits indicated for adopting practices that minimize impacts and maximize function: CD U C CO c c <4 c o o m 1/1 CJ t/i n> o n O p ° P - ^ t j > - o p CD t j * > « > 8 > £ -o £ > to "5 £ to p r o CD to c CD 5 to £ CD CD in U r n i— i/i £ L > 1/1 > Some trees and bushes on site produce edible fruit • > / • > / > / Food garden for growing organic fruits and • / / vegetables on site Including a cutting garden ^ •>/ 76 3.11 waste management 3.11.1 Primer "Each year, people and businesses in the Lower Mainland generate 2.9 million tonnes of garbage and recyclables. [This is enough to f i l l BC Place Stadium 3 times over.] Because of the economic and environmental costs of handling this vast amount of materials, reducing the amount of garbage - also called solid waste - we produce can be an important step for residents of the region. Increasing the amount of recyclables that are processed into other products rather than winding up in landfills is one of a variety of things we can do to help this region move towards a long-term goal of sustainability." (GVRD website - Garbage Et Recycling) "Detached housing tends to produce more waste per capita than higher-density alternatives" (SmartGrowthBC website) From the begi nning of the 1990s until the end there was a shift in the amount of solid waste residents of this region recycled. Although the amount of waste produced per person did not change significantly, the percentage of our waste that we are recycling has increased by 32 percent between 1990 and 1999 (Fig. 3.48). In 1999, 1,109 kg (2,449 lbs) of solid waste were generated per person in the Georgia Basin, of which 485 kg (1,078 lbs) were recycled. This represents a recycling rate of 43 per cent (Transboundary Georgia Basin - Puget Sound Environmental Indicators Working Group). Residential curbside recycling program removes 38.6% of solid waste, not including the beverage container stewardship program (GVRD Website - Garbage Et Recycling). B Waste Recycled (kg/person/year) • Waste Disposed (kg/person/year) 1990 1999 Year Fig. 3.48: Per Capita Solid Waste Disposed and Recycled in the Georgia Basin in 1990 and 1999 77 3.11.2 Systems Et Centres: Natures circle of life, where the death of one thing supports the life of another, which in turn will support the life of another in due time, is very much a looped system. The human-driven process of product manufacturing, use and disposal is a throughput whereby the waste produced is usually degraded so much from a natural state that it wil l never again support life to the degree that the source material did as part of its natural system (Fig. 3.49). Even without consuming less, we can make choices that dramatically increase efficiency of our use of these products and reduce the I -' recycling source m aniifarturi ng consumer W co 2 co 2 disposal co. co2 , I landfill C0 2 C0 2 compost incinerator Fig. 3 .49: Waste production cycle impact our waste has on the environment. Recycling, refurbishing or reusing products creates a loop that helps reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in our landfills. Additionally, diverting organic material from our landfills and composting it into a nutrient rich soil benefits us in our own yards and creates a loop that is tight and complete (Fig. 3.50, p 81). About 50% of the waste we create is recyclable and we in the GVRD are doing a pretty good job of participating in our ^S>7J curbside municipal recycling programs. But of what we send to the j llillifillJi!*! landfill 40% on average is organic waste. This organic waste when ' <n_t-put in a landfill wil l never be returned to the soil, and its nutrients _ will never be utilized by other plants to grow, and do, the cycle is .*- , stopped. Just by having and using a backyard compost bin, we not only reduce the amount of waste filling our landfills (and reducing the number of truckloads going to cache creek by 40%), but we also generate our own organic fertil izer that is free and great for maintaining a healthy garden. 78 Vr -Ji ' While we are doing a lot better job of recycling than we did back in 1990, we are still producing just as much waste. Reducing our overall production of waste is a challenge when we are being bombarded with advertisements for products to buy, where new and cheap is the convention. Consider purchasing only what you need and look for quality products that are durable and long-lasting. Products made from recycled post-consumer materials help to reduce the strain on dwindling resources. Buy locally manufactured products. Avoid buying single-use items. Reuse grocery bags and take-out containers, even using these one more time than they were intended means a 50% reduction in these products in our landfills. stew? Si i i I Disposal The GVRD's integrated waste management system processes our garbage in three steps. Once garbage has been picked up at the curb, it is brought to one of six transfer stations in the Lower Mainland where a final check is done for hazardous wastes and recyclable materials before it is loaded into large trucks for delivery to one of the landfills. The GVRD's residential garbage website describes this waste disposal system: On collection day, garbage is picked up and brought to a transfer station where operators sort through it for items that can be recycled or sent to the Burnaby Waste-to-Energy Facility to be incinerated (about 20%). What is left of our garbage is loaded into large trucks and hauled to a disposal site or landfill (Cache Creek takes about 16% of waste generated in GVRD). A large percentage of waste that is brought to the landfills can be recycled or reused. By paying close attention to what we're putting in our garbage cans and recycling materials whenever possible we can increase the stream of goods produced by recycling rather than using up precious space and money in landfiUsr-The GVRD's disposal system works to reduce the amount of solid waste deposited in our landfills through residential recycling programs, sorting of disposed materials, and incineration. Efforts to capture and reuse byproducts of waste, help to further reduce the impact of the large volumes of waste residents, businesses and industries produce. By capturing and reusing byproducts of waste, or 'biofuel ' , the GVRD is in effect using a new supply source for fuel, reducing the demands on fossil fuel reserves. " tSEfisM 5& b e skim 79 "In December 2002, the City of Vancouver and the Corporation of Delta entered into an agreement with Maxim Power Corp and Hot House Growers for the sale of landfill gas for beneficial purposes. Previously, landfill gas collected at the Landfill were flared off to control greenhouse gases and odour emissions, and also used to provide heat and hot water at the Landfill Administration building. The Vancouver Landfill Gas Utilization Project conveys the majority of landfill gases collected at the Landfill to Hot House Growers' greenhouses in Delta, where it is used to produce electricity for sale to BC Hydro. Heat co-generated by the production of electricity is used in Hot House Growers' greenhouse operations. Utilization of the landfill gas reduces greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 30,000 tonnes per year of carbon dioxide equivalents, or approximately 6,000 automobiles/year, and reduces the consumption of non-renewable energy by approximately 500,000 gigajoules of energy per year, equivalent to providing the annual energy requirements for approximately 3,000 to 4,000 homes." (City of Vancouver website) inputs outputs \ \ / / Fig. 3.50: Waste management as the centre Recycling "Studies show that about half of our refuse gets recycled by residents and businesses. Beyond using blue boxes, the recycling options available to residents have grown to include product stewardship programs run by industries for products from batteries to beverage containers. For businesses and commercial operations, the GVRD has a large number of resources, directories and other services targeted towards helping make recycling economical and easier" (GVRD website - garbage and recycling). Composting "Studies show that more than 40 per cent of what we send to the landfill is organic waste. Much of this can be composted, taking up less space in landfills, helping improve regional air quality and producing excellent soil conditioner" (GVRD website - composting). 3.11.3 Guidelines Focus: Reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfills, by reducing unnecessary consumption of resources and recycling and composting as much of our waste as possible. Less garbage put out on the curb directly equates to less trips by waste removal trucks and therefore less air pollution. "Less material in the landfill means less methane gas generated by garbage rotting there. The net result is reduced air pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that contribute to global climate change" (CMHC, 2005). Separate and compost organic materials rather than using the garborator to wash them down the drain. "Ground-up food clogs pipes places additional load on the wastewater treatment plants" (GVRD website -composting). Waste put through the garborator wil l end up being separated from waste water and will still have to be trucked to the landfill. 1. Buy only what is necessary. Find sources of materials that do not require raw resource extraction, i.e. used or recycled. Landscape elements should be acquired with their full life-span considered. Where might they end up? Buy materials that are appropriately durable to last as long as possible and be of practical use/value after removal so that they will be used again. Purchase locally sourced and manufactured products made from recycled content. 2. Use plant material to do jobs conventionally done by structures (hedges instead of fences, vegetated slopes instead of retaining walls). 3. Composter provided and utilized for organic household waste and garden trimmings to divert about 40% of waste from the landfill and provide nutrient rich mulch to improve soil conditions. With a backyard composter and garden, you can put most of your organic kitchen waste and yard trimmings to work for your garden (CMHC, 2005). "Finished compost used on gardens and lawns or in planters improves the soil by releasing nutrients slowly, reducing soil erosion and reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides. Excess use of these products can lead to runoff and contamination of local waterways" (ibid.). Using compost as organic fertilizer feeds earthworms and other beneficial organisms in the soil. Use a composter to produce nutrient-rich mulch that can be applied to the lawn or around trees, shrubs and perennials to help soil retain moisture and reduce the need to water. Composting reduces the amount of garbage 8 1 going to our landfills and incinerator. Compost organic waste to reduce volumes of trash hauled to the landfill and associated pollution. 4. Proper use and understanding of municipal recycling programs and private stewardship programs to divert all recyclables from the landfill. Building / construction materials, packaging and maintenance tools are reused or recycled to the highest available standards. 5. Hazardous materials and chemicals are properly disposed to minimize harm to soil, air, water and living organisms. Care should be taken to follow your city's instructions for disposal of hazardous materials so they do not end up causing unnecessary harm to our environment. Ensure nothing but biodegradable substances go down the drain. Always call city for hazardous waste disposal. Never dispose of hazardous substances down the drain. 4 A ® a 3.11.4 Conventional / alternative comparison Table 3.12: conventional / alternative waste management Benefits indicated for adopting practices that minimize impacts and maximize function: Buy only what is necessary, buy recycled / recyclable products on ° P oo on ene savi COS! savi s CD U o o !™ D O 11 00 > 01 ro c o QJ u c ro c Oi % 3 on c > ro c o CD u CD Use plants to do the jobs of structures Composter provided and utilized with maximum effectiveness Minimize construction waste and maximize recycling to the highest available degree Proper disposal of hazardous materials and chemicals 82 3.12 c h e m i c a l s 3.12.1 Primer For the better part of the post World War II era, we have been at war in our own backyards. On a quest to maintain our yards to some degree of what society (or the lawn and garden industry) deems perfection, we attack our lawns and gardens and pets with "herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and miticides" (Davies, 1998). This never-ending battle against our own properties is not only frustrating, but it is also hazardous to our health, the health of our loved ones, our pets and the environment. "In 1995, there were 3,205 different pest control products registered for use in Canada and 308 of these are designed for use on lawns and turf." (Ibid.) "Many pesticides have shown that at least 107 pesticide active ingredients can cause cancer in animals or humans... Pesticides are deliberately added to the environment for the purpose of injuring or killing some form of l i f e-Most pesticides are non-selective and are toxic to many non-target organisms, including humans" (Ibid.) F i g . 3 . 5 1 : M a n y p e s t i c i d e s u s e d i n y a r d s c o n t a i n i n g r e d i e n t s s h o w n t o c a u s e c a n c e r i n a n i m a l s a n d h u m a n s . In adults, exposure to pesticides has also been linked with prostate cancer, brain cancer and excess death from diseases of the nervous system. In children, household pesticides have been linked to leukemia and brain tumors. Children are more susceptible to pesticide exposure than adults because their "breathing zones are much closer to the ground..., their tissues and organs are still growing and developing..., their metabolic rate is higher" and they have behaviours involve more contact with the areas where pesticides are applied. Exposure happens due to pesticide drift in outdoor air and contact with treated soils or when pesticides are "tracked inside and deposited onto carpets" or "absorbed through skin contact with treated wooden play structures." (Ibid.) "According to one National Cancer Institute study, children are as much as six times more likely to get childhood leukemia when pesticides are used in the home and garden." (Go For Green - Fact Sheet #3) "According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 95% of the pesticides used on residential lawns are considered probable or possible carcinogens" (Go For Green) 83 Although little information is available about the use of household pesticides by Canadians, 57% of respondents in an American pesticide use survey reported using pesticides to control weeds in their yard. Statistics Canada estimated that 67% of Canadians with a garden use pesticides (Statistics Canada, 1992). "Close to two and a half million Canadian households use chemical pesticides... In 1992, Canadians spent $78 million on chemical herbicides, insecticides and pesticides for the garden" (Go For Green - Fact Sheet #3) "A pesticide is any chemical substance used to kill bugs, weeds or plant diseases. This includes insecticides (kill insects), herbicides (kill plants), fungicides (kill moulds, mushrooms and yeast) and rodenticides (kill rodents)" (Ottawa website). "Upwards of 50 million kilograms of herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides are used in Canada each year. Some of these pesticides contain chemicals considered to have hormone-disrupting effects, including at least 850 different pesticide products that are registered for household use." (WWF) ' "There's an obvious health risk to storing and using toxic chemicals: * 1 - ' i ' " 1 ' - 1 in 1993, 140,000 pesticide exposures, 93% of which involved home i ^ . j p g ; :{]&^^»ijtE}jfl§Jr use, were reported to poison control centres in the U.S. 'WJ '^jjJKf^felsI'lltiP Approximately 25% of these people exposed to chemicals exhibited ?>SabifiSa) symptoms of pesticide poisoning. More than half of these reported * -' " cases involved children under the age of six?" (Go For Green - Fact Sheet #3) 3.12.2 Systems Et Centres Fertilizers Sythetic Fertilizers are comprised of 3 elements which nourish plants, nitrogen, phosphate and potassium. "The Nitrogen is extracted from the atmosphere (which is 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen and the remaining 1% is composed of Carbon dioxide and other gases). The Phosphate and Potassium are derived from rock that is refined." (Ottawa website -fertilizers) These elements are found in healthy soil as naturally occurring byproducts of the microorganisms that live there and the decomposition of organic material. Synthetic Fertilizers work by giving plants a boost of these nutrients and, when used properly, stimulate the plant to grow vigorously. "Chemical/synthetic fertilizers are applied many times during the spring, summer and fal l , according to the package instructions" (ibid.). Organic fertilizers such as compost feed the soil and contribute to the natural processes that circulate and exchange nutrients within the soil. "Chemical/synthetic fertilizers feed the 84 plant but not the soil. Over time there is a gradual decrease in organic matter in the soil, as it is used up, and the soil becomes compacted. The lack of organic matter leads to a reduction in soil organisms making it more susceptible to insect or disease infestations." (Ottawa website -Fertilizers) "Chemical fertilizers are the most widely used fertilizers used today because they are easy to use, inexpensive and easily absorbed by the plant. They come in liquid or dry forms. Unfortunately, excess nutrients leach into the water through runoff into the sewers causing contamination and eutrophication (death) of lakes and streams endangering the fish and amphibians." (Ibid.) "Chemical fertilizers, if used improperly, can cause problems in waterways. Excess fertilizers can be swept by rainwater from the soil and into storm sewers, where they then go directly into lakes and rivers. The phosphorus in fertilizers caused algae blooms, lowers oxygen levels in waterways and degrades fish habitat." (Go for Green Fact Sheet #3). Pesticides Pesticides can pose risks to human health and the environment. While there is still scientific uncertainty about the health risks of using pesticides in your garden, growing evidence supports taking a 'precautionary approach.' Being cautious makes a lot of sense, because there are many alternatives to using pesticides for cosmetic purposes on our lawns and gardens. Within the environment, although some pesticides are species-specific, there are others that do not differentiate between pests and beneficial organisms. Some lawn and garden pesticides may persist in the environment, which may result in unintended exposure to other species. Once applied to a lawn or garden a pesticide may migrate into the air, soil, and water, both groundwater and surface water. Studies in Ontario have detected some of our lawn and garden pesticides in both surface water and wells. There are also indications that aquatic life, bees, birds and soil organisms including earthworms are harmed (Ottawa website). 85 3.12.3 Guidelines Focus: "We have to ask ourselves: Do we really need to spray these chemicals on our lawns just to destroy some plants and insects that we think are pests? We need to change our ideas about what makes a beautiful lawn. To prevent potential harm, the City of Ottawa encourages residents to explore alternatives to chemical pesticides" (Ottawa website). "When you go to your garden centre, read the labels on the products you buy. If using a lawn care service ask what they're applying to your lawn. Some items like fertilizers and lawn-care products may contain pesticides. Ask questions and find out what alternatives to pesticides are available" (Ottawa website). When necessary to paint fences, decks, sheds, play equipment or other structures choose finishes that wil l last, are correctly applied and have lower toxicity levels. "Don't use preserved wood or old railway ties near a vegetable garden. Rain can wash chemicals out of the wood and into the so i l " (Environment Canada Website). 1. "Choose plants that are hardy and resist or tolerate disease and pest problems to prevent the need for chemical pesticides." (CMHC, 2004, p 116) Select plants that are "common to your area and having a diverse mix of species wil l help reduce the cost, work and environmental impact of chemical pest management". (Ibid., p 116) Choose garden typologies and plants that are disease resistant and thrive in your climate. Local plant species are well adapted to the local bioregion and wil l thrive without the need for soil 'enrichment' 2. Select the least harmful treatment for controlling pests and disease (see appendix e) Most insects are beneficial to the garden. Companion plantings help to protect species from pests. Encourage birds and bats, which will feed on pests. Pesticides, herbicides, and wood preservatives are toxic and intended to ki l l , otherwise they wouldn't be used. Avoid the use of synthetic chemicals for yard maintenance to protect the health of people, pets and wildlife as well as soil and water quality. Choose the least toxic means to maintain your yard. 86 3. Use compost or other organic fertilizers when amendments are needed. Mulch wil l keep down weeds. While fertilizers often require the application of water to distribute them to plants roots, using organic compost and mulch wil l help enrich soils while slowing the rate of evaporation. 3.12.4 Conventional / alternative comparison Table 3.13: conventional chemicals and alternatives Conventional Alternative Fertilizers used on lawn and garden Lower aesthetic expectations and accept imperfections as natural. Let lawn grow higher and leave clippings on lawn. Herbicides used to kil l weeds Use of native plants that out perform weed species, mulch used around plants to suppress weeds Pesticides used to kill insects An understanding that most insects are good for the garden, Predator species used to eliminate insect problems. Use biodegradable bug killers only if absolutely necessary. Finishes used to treat wood for play structures Build decks and play equipment using cedar or and decks: pentachlorophenol, copper plastic lumber (plastic-wood composite) chromium arsenate (green) and creosote. 87 4.0 suburban yard scorecard 4.1 purpose £t format 4.2 scorecard properties 4.3 suburban yard scorecard 4.1 purpose ft format The purpose of the scorecard (Table 4.1) is two-fold. First, the scorecard can be used by homeowners or designers to evaluate the existing condition of a suburban yard, seeing where the yard is manifesting best practice guidelines as well as the site's best practice deficiencies. Second, the scorecard can be used by those designing suburban yards to minimize the ecological and financial impacts and maximize the ecological and social functions of the site. The format of the scorecard is heavily influenced by the sustainability checklist found in the Site Design Manual for B.C. Communities (See Section 1.4, p 8). This format does a good job of connecting the questions to a rationale, the guideline from which the question was generated and the sustainability categories (green infrastructure, movement, social infrastructure and cost) that the related guideline addresses. Using this format, the checklist questions are defended by well-researched best practice guidelines and support the overall intention of the Design Manual. The suburban yard scorecard has adapted from the design manual format to include the six principles for suburban yards as well as the addition of categories to note social and economic benefits of scoring a positive response to scorecard questions. 89 4.2 scorecard properties Checklist questions are posed as Y/N questions and should have a desirable outcome if answered "yes" Each checklist question supported by: 1. A reference to the best practice guideline correlating to the question* 2. A rationale to provide more information about the consequence of the question 3. One or more of the six principles for suburban yards and an indication of social and economic benefit where applicable. *Referenced section 3 guidelines are based on best practice guidelines from a variety of sources and consider: • Environmental performance • Annual time expenditure • Annual cost Using the icons below, the scorecard also indicates which of the six principles for a better suburban yard will be met with a positive response to questions. 9Bk 1. Let nature do the work . 4. Alive is better than dead ^ 2. Be water wise ^ 5. Emphasize the local ^ 3. Nurture nature £J 6. Waste nothing The scorecard indicates categories in which other benefits may result using the icons below: /T>i Social benefits <*• Economic benefits $ 9 0 4.3 s u b u r b a n y a r d s c o r e c a r d Table 4.1 garden Question Y N Guideline 1?r Is there a diversity of plants (including natives) that are well- ~ suited to soil, sunlight and moisture conditions??* >—I U 2 Is there a diversity of pest-resistant species? ^ - v 3 Are plants the material of choice to separate areas, control" " pedestrian movement and create' privacy? L i , • Are trees or large shrubs placed to provide shade for buildings and outdoor living spaces? I—I • 5 Is the garden free of invasive species? " 3.2~3.5T 6 Are flowering shrubs and perennials used in lieu of ornamental trees, ornamental shrubs and flower beds? LJ • 7 Is the mature height and spread of plants well-suited to their " " ~3.f.3.7.~..~..~.7.~] | * location? ^ • • ; , | 8 Are plants grouped according to their watering requirements? LJ D 9 Are edgesof planting beds" defined with borders? " "~ ~ I 10 Is unused lawn replaced with a planting bed or wildflower meadow? LJ • 91 Table 4.1: suburban yard scorecard (continued) X> "£ <u o "o _^  5 c ro OJ ro u _g ^ _o o cu ^ Jr, £ on _ 3 S £ .£ c 5 3 S £ -° E 2 ro 3 — P * -£ o « f % > g- |3 G o _ J £ O Z - < L I J > G O L L J Rationale ^ 4 > & © < > © $ ~A diverse mix of plants that are well-suited to soil, sunlight and y/"1/~ y s s ' ' s' moisture conditions wil l reduce maintenance requirements •and*iy . t > . , ,. increase the habitat value and beauty of your yard. "A diversity of species that are insect and disease resistant •/ V •/ S~ S reduces the use of pesticides which will save you time and money and minimize the impact on the environment" (CMHC, 2004, p99) ; Using plant material to do the job of structures increases habitat' V •/ V •/ •/ value, beauty and reduces the expense and maintenance ! associated with fences. •1 Using trees and large shrubs wil l create shade to keep the house •/ •/ •/ cooler during the summer and provide comfortable places to sit on summer days. |- A garden comprised of only non-invasive species wil l save energy V •/ •/ •/ \ many people spend controlling weedy species and five native and non-invasive species more space to flourish. Minimizing the use of ornamental trees/shrubs and flower beds v V V S •/ and choosing low-maintenance woodland shade gardens, wildflower meadows or xeriscapes will save time, money and energy and attract birds. Choosing plants" with an appropriate mature height, shape and • • V spread for, the location in the garden will reduce pruning and the ' ' occurrence of plant relocation. Grouping plants according to their watering requirements wil l •/ •/ •/ save maintenance time and water. Defining edges of planting beds with borders helps contain the • • mulch and soil and reduce maintenance. , ' " * ., A wildflower meadow contains a colourful mix of low- • / • / • / • / • / •/ >/ maintenance, drought-tolerant wildflower perennials, wil l only require a trim once per year and will attract butterflies and other beneficial insects to your garden 92 Table 4.1 (continued) suburban yard scorecard Lawn Question Y N Guideline \ 14.- Are lawn areas-consolidated and minimized while still 7. meeting the minimum area for required uses? ' <— — 12 Are lawn areas seeded with low-maintenance varieties of __ grasses? 13 Is lawn maintained without the use of chemicals, mowed no " " shorter than 10 cm and maintained with electric or human- —' — • powered equipment that leaves the clippings on the grass? Soil 14 Are plants selected suitable for soil conditions? • • 15 Are plants used to reduce erosion and stabilize slopes? ,•>; ___ _ 16 Is compost, rather than chemical fertilizers or imported soil,, used when soil amendments are required? —' —' 17 Are amendments targeted to areas where they are needed and free of synthetic chemicals? • • 18 Is topsoil preserved while properly accommodating existing and new site features? L J • Table 4.1: suburban yard scorecard (continued) _: oi O T3 5 _• 2 CD -g * 3 01 to ro c > J O. * - » _ : > C O ro DO 4-> OJ JZ 4-* ing ene cu JZ (U __ c u N o at phasi rz <L> t/l X ) / a mom Em| Wa: u o CO Eco Rationale A * 4 _ ? £ ® 0 © $ Minimized[and consolidated lawn arc .v. n clme m.iintenance time • • • • • • and associated energy and water consumption while stil l meeting the needs of residents for leisure activities. Growing a low-maintenance lawn that takes care of itself • • V • • V • significantly reduces the need for watering, mowing and fertilizing, saving time, money, energy and the environment. „ Using less fertilizer reduces water and maintenance required. • • • • v ? v ' " V •.1 ^Keeping lawn at least 10 cm high entourage's a vigorous, healthy ' lawn that-resists weeds and drying out. Leaving clippings on the " lawn will'provide'about 25 percent okthe lawn's nitrogen needs. Selecting plants suited to your soil minimizes the need for • •/ •/ amendments and is usually more ecologically sound and less costly than trying to redesign your soil for unsuitable plants. Plants make excellent slope stabilizers-;and control'erosion and • • •/ can be less expensive than lawrnn the Jong-term. , • i Organic material, available for free from a backyard composter, V •/ •/ •/ •/ •/ •/ helps sandy soil hold nutrients and water and improves aeration and drainage in clay soil. , WitbHbng-term soil health as the goal, it is important to"reduce' •/ •/ 7V"'* V> and even eliminate the continual heed for soil amendments. ; Amend your soil selectively, only where needed, rather than the ; whole yard whether it needs jt ,qr not. The structure, porosity and organic content of established soil is •/ •/ V •/ •/ •/ V a valuable resource on your property and improves over time. Minimizing disturbance to existing topsoil while grading appropriately around new and existing site features will maximize the proper functioning condition of your yard. 94 Table 4.1 (continued) suburban yard scorecard structures & materials Question Y N Guideline 19 Is the use of manufactured fencing limited to the acceptable minimum? I—I I 20 Does play equipment stimulate children's creativity and is it low-toxicity? L-1 U 21 Areretaining walls and decorative walls used bnlyto the ' ~ extent necessary? " '—I U 22 Is outdoor furniture made from recycled materials or manufactured locally? "—I LJ 23 "".Is decking designed and installed to. minimize constructional ~_'•: 375.3:5.' waste and resist weathenng? ' I—I U Treading surfaces 24 Are areas for vehicular and pedestrian treading reduced to the acceptable minimum? • • "25 Is the "permeability of treading surfaces maximized "for their ~ " _ ' 3.6~3.27........:....."j required use ' ; ; I—K> <-} j 95 Table 4.1: suburban yard scorecard (continued) ro <li o " O c ro he ro _ci loc 4-* 4-» o " O wise :ure i CLI 4-* 0 ) - C ing 4-» £ 1 ene J wise ro 4-» 01 o> 4-» 01 l _ =3 4-> c <u . O u> mphasiz no bei mic et na ro urtur live i mphasiz Waste ro u o conoi _ i CO < Waste t n L U Rationale " * 4 / £ ® 0 © $ Us^fericWToTontror^ elTcourage V 7 V V V V V) interaction between neighbours with improved visual or physical <~ - *» J access. Vegetation is used to create privacy. . ' • 4 . • " 1 Play equipment should be incorporated with site features to • / • / • / • / encourage interaction with nature, imagination and opportunities for challenge and play over time. Finishes should be low toxicity to protect children's health , In many cases planted slopes can do the job of retaining walls, • I are less expensive and function better ecologically:. When walls ' are necessary, use durable materials that can be reused, such as - J \ pre-cast concrete blocks. . " ' Quality furniture made from 100% post-consumer thermoplastics </ •/ •/ •/ gathered in curbside collection programs or recycled utility and telephone poles reduces raw resources extracted and contributes to local recycling. Deckingcan be carefully designed and installed to minimize ' ; ^ / J V V construction.waste and,~when properly installed, can be durable and impervious to water damage. Limiting paved areas to the acceptable minimum required to •/ •/ •/ V •/ •/ meet your needs will reduce volumes of stormwater runoff, improve soil moisture and reduce heat in the summer. rMaximizing permearJility"of treadTr^ ~siFfaces~mainTains triei r ~S ~S~> v7"] \ ability "to support traffic while allowing water to soak into the I ^ground as close to the point of contact with the surface as , j \ possible. i k ? i % . . v . ' / / i i . V v , , ' j:.A-\Jy .. ..",1"::''ik~^ >-, " JL~ < "... , . ..„,.• " ' , t ." .1 96 Table 4.1 (continued) suburban yard scorecard wildl ife habitat Question Y N Guideline ?2b , Are there a variety of plant species that provide habitat > value? • • 27 Are native species, fruiting and flowering plants that bear , fruit throughout the year and some plants that attract insects included in the garden? • • 28 Is food, water and shelter for birds provided? 29 Are domestic animals kept under control? 30 Ts the use of pesticides"a^coded?~ " ' ~~ " *r~" ~ T T * "177.3.5. Water 31 Are plants selected well-suited to climate and soil moisture levels? L J • 32, . A r e garden hoses equ ipped w i t h s p n n g i o a d e d tr igger ^ . v . . • 3.8.3:2....:.... j nozzles? " • • ' 33 Is turf grass minimized? _ _ • • Table 4.1: suburban yard scorecard (continued) •a _: <u o "O Rationale ~ 4 y £ ® < > © $ "A^aTietylrf^ species wil l help to provide"shelteTand food ~ s ' v ~~7~ --^ —-—-j for birds,* animals and insects? K V < " •*? . - > ' > Native species wil l help attract songbirds because they are s s s •/ familiar and provide food and cover. Insects also provide food for birds. A bird feeder or fruit bearing plants wil l provide food. A • • • • birdbath or pond wil l provide water forcxlrinking and bathing. Evergreen trees, shrubs and thick brush pile provide good cover. Domestic cats kil l millions of songbirds every year. A bell around • • •/ the neck of an outdoor cat alerts birds. Look for less harmful ways to.control insects and weeds to V / V v ;... i | prevent the unnecessary death of birds due to the application of ' short-lived pesticides. ' Selecting plants that are suited to your climate and soil is a V S S S S great way to significantly reduce the demand on municipal water resources, particularly during the summer when water consumption is the highest. A spring loaded trigger nozzle wil l save about 300 litres of water , •/ each time a car is washed. > -Thirsty turf grass should be replaced with native ground cover, a •/ •/ J S wildflower meadow, native shrub bed orxeriscape to reduce the need to water, particularly during the summer. r Rl[ i? i^te7that has f a l l e n ^ ------ - — . . „ should be directed iritjo-planting beds br^rain barrels to reduce , - • - v i l •H reliance on the municipal storm sewer system and municipal , - •» * . - , i j drinking water supplies. * - > - - " * .' ' , \ , . - " j 98 Table 4.1 (continued) suburban yard scorecard w a t e r ( c o n t i n u e d ) Q u e s t i o n Y N G u i d e l i n e I 35 Where irrigation is necessary, is it ahigh efficiency system/ 777 ~ OT3TT.~rT7.7~1 • and not a'" portable above-ground sprinkler? , 36 Does all water flow away from house, patio, driveway and shed? L7J • 37 Are impermeable surfaces minimized? " " " 38 Is all water falling on the property managed on site? Energy f "~39~l D o e s t h F y a r d manifelpTpr inciples " f c ^ "'71 m 379.371. design? ' * ~ U U v - : -40 Do structures and matenals have embodied energy coefficients of less than 0.4 kWh/kg? L7J • ! " 4 1 " Is yard maintenance limited to non-pollutinglnaintenance "7 "3.973.3. j practices?- V * L i U 42 Are trees or large shrubs used to shade the house during the hottest times of the year? LI U 43 Js all exterior lighting energy efficient? > " 99 Table 4.1: suburban yard scorecard (continued) Rationale °* 4 / & ® ( ) © $ S d H p i r r i g a t u j ^ due to run-off and • V • evaporation that occurs with the use of portable above-ground . ' " : sprinklers. >,' . Grading so that water runs away from buildings protects •/ V •/ V V •/ foundations and reduces reliance on drains and municipal storm sewers. To reduce runoff from your property, limit the size of S • • V , . • impermeable paved areas and use permeable surface materials that allow water to soak into;the ground. Properly managed storm water wil l be fully absorbed into the •/ •/ soil on site and not be offloaded to neighbouring sites or contribute to water volumes in municipal storm sewers. Following principles and guidelines"for a~lo"w-maintenance,~ •/ V v V V ' / " V landscape will greatly reduce energy use in the suburban yard, I both in the form of fuel and physical labour. Landscape structures, materials and site furnishings that have •/ S • V • low embodied energy wil l reduce the environmental impact of your yard. Non-polluting maintenance techniques like push-mowers, b r o o m s ' V ~S S Z V and; rakes reduce noise and pollution and contribute to livable neighbourhoods. -> • 4 Mature trees can block 60 to 90 percent of the summer sun, •/ •/ •/ •/ V V reducing energy used to cool the house while increasing human comfort. r_ne?g3r^ f^^ f i g h t T ~ * , ' ''•/~~^~~V J pollution while improving^nighttime aesthetics and security. " \ 1\M 100 Table 4.1 (continued) suburban yard scorecard food / production Question Y N Guideline f 44 Are fruit trees and/or fruit bushes included on site? <.* __ r _ 3 10.3.1. 45 Is a food garden included?, 46 Is a cutting garden included? ~ "~ " • " j waste management 47 Are materials for the yard carefully considered for the degree of their necessity and their durability, life-span, and '—I U recycled content? 48 Is p lahlmater ia fusedto db"jo6ra^ventionally"done by < 3".Tl-.3.2..7.7 structures? " l_l I_J 49 Is a composter provided and utilized for organic household waste and garden trimmings? •—I U 't . " 50 Are^construction wastes, packaging and maintenance tools -. ; " recycled to the highest available standards? V * ' l_J l_l I—, v ^ — — , . ' >, •.. : z— : 51 Are hazardous materials and chemicals disposed of properly? ^, 101 Table 4.1: suburban yard scorecard (continued) ro s (Li o TD C ro he ro _rz 4_f loc 4-> 4—. o " O wise :ure i _ <U 4-» 0> _ c 4-* ing viz ene Ol wise ro 4-> (U OJ 4-> ne i _ c N o et naU e wate urture live is mphasi Waste n ocial b conom _ i CD < L U Waste n L U Rationale B * 4 ^ £ ® 0 © $ Fruit trees/bushes have aromatic flowers in the spring and . •/ produce colourful, locally-grown, organic fruit in the summer (, . and fall for human and/or wildlife consumption.» . - > A food garden increases self-sufficiency, provides fresh organic •/ V V •/ / produce and creates opportunities for sharing with neighbours. r An attractive flower display that canbe:used?to produce cut ~~ ~ ~ • 7 7 V~~'V \, flower arrangements will beautify your yard and save money on ' 1 cut, flowers. - ' -Buy only what is necessary and those products that are made of • / • / • / • / recycled content with durability and future uses considered to minimize materials that will eventually end up in landfills. Usingjplant material to achievepurposes of structures, such as V" S~17~V ~7 7/~'^~y\ hedges instead of fences and vegetated slopes instead of • " \ retaining walls, will save money in the long term and function ~ « ,1 higher Icoibgically. ' ' I A composter used to convert organic household and yard waste •/ •/ •/ •/ •/ V •/ into compost will divert 40% of non-recyclable curbside waste from the landfill, saving trips and creating a free, nutrient-rich soil amendment. J Proper understanding and use of municipal recycling programs , , and stewardship programs will help diyerf a substantial amount t of waste from the landfill.," C ' u Proper disposal of hazardous substances will minimize harm to •/ •/ •/ •/ S V soil, air, water and living organisms. 102 Table 4.1 (continued) suburban yard scorecard Chemicals Question Y N Guideline variety of native plant species ? disease selected? amendments are required? 52 Are plants hardy and pest/disease resistant including a '" - 53 Is the least harmful treatment for controlling pests and • • 54 Are organic fertilizers or compost used when soil • • • 103 Table 4.1: suburban yard scorecard (continued) — Rationale ~ 4 > & ® 0 © $ f Cfioosihg plants that are nativF,l^ rdylrTdTesisrbr^  toleratF Vi" V V 7 7 / 7" I disease and. pest problems help prevent thecostv wor(< andp#/fei A*; . .. • •»« * •= j environmental impact of chemical pest control measures. * -r^-*'' .» Choosing the least harmful treatment for controlling pests and V V V •/ disease will maintain soil and plant health and minimize harm to children, pets and wildlife. r Co1h^bliU^he7best soil amendment because"!? isffree, locally^"" S '^Fr^^~7^1r?'~7\ V V~ I produced, nch in nutnents and promotes soil health and self- '-' sufficiency.' - " » * ' * 104 5.0 illustrative case study 5.1 case study syllabus 5.2 existing site design 5.3 proposed site design 5.4 six principles applied 5.5 performance comparison 105 5.1 case study syllabus This section explores the hypothetical application of the six principles for a better yard and the suburban yard scorecard to a subject site. The objective of this theoretical application of these tools to a real site wil l help to illustrate their potential effectiveness in real-world applications. This section begins with an inventory of the site to set the context and make apparent the physical and environmental conditions that make this site unique, but also typical to this region (see appendix e for detailed inventory). The inventory and site analysis represent a collection and assessment of data about the site as it was when construction on a new house was nearing completion in the autumn of 2004. The inventory and analysis help to set the basis for the illustration of both a conventional residential landscaping approach (recently completed) and an alternative design (proposed in this document), which will be compared later in this section (See appendices b, c, d, e, f). The illustrative case study will propose a residential design solution (concept plan) (see Fig. 5.4, 5.5, 5.6) that attempts to achieve the highest score on the suburban yard scorecard and exercise the six principles for a better yard to the greatest extent possible. The each of the six principles is presented as a layer and noted in detail (See Fig. 5.7, 5.8, 5.9, 5.10, 5.11, 5.12), how the proposed site design wil l achieve elements of the six principles. A planting plan is also included to support the achievement of the six principles and scorecard points specific to the conditions of this site (see_appendix g). Scoring of the proposed site describes, in further detail , how the proposed concept plan has succeeded in achieving the maximum number of 'yes' answers to the scorecard questions (see appendix h). After explanations of both the existing and proposed designs, a performance comparison assesses the two suburban yard approaches against one another. An impact and function audit of the area takeoffs (see Table 5.1) for each landscape approach presents the physical differences between land uses. An installation cost comparison (see Table 5.2) provides a budget breakdown of the actual installation costs of the built design versus those of the proposed design. An annual maintenance inputs analysis (see Table 5.4) compares the conventional and alternative designs in terms of their annual inputs of time, money, fuel, fertilizers and pesticides. A summary of the impact and function audit (p 121) looks at how the scorecard and six principles have affected each of the eleven residential landscape components in the proposed design. 106 5.2 e x i s t i n g s i t e d e s i g n The existing conventional landscape (Fig. 5.1). Buildings now cover 26.2 percent of the site. Another 24.6 percent of the site is covered in conventional lawn. Concrete makes up 14.9 percent of the site and pavers another 14.7 percent. Gravel makes up 6.2 percent and 2.5 percent is bare soil betweent the detached garage and fence. Only 6.1 percent of the yard is dedicated to garden area. The site has one existing tree (transplanted) and one new tree in the front yard to replace one that was removed for the new driveway. The boulders were found on site during the excavation for the new basement. ^m^gsi^^^^^^^trimfflmmmmmm Gravel . Fig. 5.1: Existing site plan - current site as landscaped using conventional techniques (not to scale) 107 5.2 e x i s t i n g s i t e d e s i g n Site as landscape as installed, using conventional techniques. Note the large areas of lawn, concrete, pavers, and precast concrete block retaining walls (Fig. 5.2, 5.3). The total cost of this landscape design was $51,500 installed. A playset was later purchased second hand for $250. Fig. 5.2: Existing backyard Fig. 5.3: Existing front yard Using the document, "Definitely in My Backyard" (CMHC, 2000), for the annual input averages and the area takeoffs for this suburban yard as built it is possible to calculate the average annual inputs. The maintenance practices are averages from the CMHC's research and not based on the actual homeowners' behaviours. However, if they were maintaining their yard in an average Canadian manner, the homeowners should expect to spend nearly 59 hours (3526 min.) doing yard work, not including the paved and gravel surfaces. They should expect to spend about $286 on lawn and garden maintenance. They would apply over 19,500 litres of water to the lawn and garden, burn up about 10 litres of gasoline operating the lawn mower. If they happen to use fertilizer, they will apply 50 kg of it each year and nearly 2 kg of pesticides. 108 5.3 proposed site design Fig. 5.4: Proposed site concept plan (not to scale) Permeable parking shoulder 109 5.3 proposed site design Fig. 5.5: Proposed site backyard elevations (not to scale) Section A-A ' : Looking East 110 5.4 six principles applied 1. Let nature do the work (Fig. 5.7) Soak-away pits collect storm water runoff & allow for natural infiltration i 1 4——JG •:| "™ Composter turns organic household waste and garden trimmings into nutrient-rich mulch Vl Xmmm a s 1 Mature deciduous tree shades the house in summer and, allows foH passive solar heating in winter Bioswale collects rainwater & takes burden off municipal storm sewer 112 5.4 six principles applied 2. Be water-wise (Fig. 5.8) Low-maintenace lawn requires no watering Rarely- -I traff icked paths topped S with bark I mulch 9. Soak-away pits col lect stormwater runoff and al low for inf i l trat ion D r o u g h t - %S tolerant wi ldf lower meadow • on dry area Stepping stones permit ML movement &$§• reduce impermeabli l ty Permeable parking shoulder Reinforced rings support parking on porous granular material Rainbarrels col lect water for irrigation of vegetable garden and flowers in b i t t i n g garden Itetive shade garden requires no water and minimizes runoff Permeable crushed stone walkways where foot traff ic is not heavy fjatfve shrubs and fround covers hequire minimal J§1gatk>n •Turf drainage strips f l o w water and reduce runoff Bottom of driveway graded to divert stormwater from street 113 5.4 six principles applied 3. Nurture nature (Fig. 5.9) 114 5.4 six principles applied 4. Alive is better than dead (Fig. 5.10) to instead of contributing to problems with fish habitat 115 5.4 six principles applied 5. Emphasize the local (Fig. 5.11) Mature Japanese maple tree already on site at ive shrubs and ;round covers make an attractive, iow-Pa intenance den 5.4 six principles applied 6. Waste nothing (Fig. 5.12) new gate ' r j mm Soit from site preserved and reused preventing the need to import topsoil Mature Japanese maple tree already on site Boulders found on-site function as slope stabilization and attractive garden elements 5.5 performance comparison Impact £t function audit - area takeoff comparison (Table 5.1) Landscape description Area (sq ft) Area (sq ft) Percent of Percent of original proposed total site non-built design design (orig/prop) (orig/prop) Total property 10 812 10 812 85.6 -Total to road (incl. ROW) 12 624 12 624 100 -House 2 865 2 865 22.7 _ Detached garage 449 449 3.6 -Total buildings 3 314 3 314 26.3 -Total to road non-built 9 310 9 310 73.7 100 Lawn total 3 300 780 26.1 / 6.2 3 5 . 4 / 8 . 4 Garden: mixed shrub bed 1 100 2 085 8.7 / 16.5 11.8 / 22.4 Garden: native/shade - 1 550 0 / 12.3 0 / 16.6 Garden: wildflower meadow - 270 0 / 2.1 0 / 2.9 Garden: xeriscape - 180 0 / 1.4 0 / 1.9 Garden: food/production - 120 0 / 1.0 0 / 1.3 Garden total 1 100 4 205 8 . 7 / 3 3 . 3 1 1 . 8 / 4 5 . 2 Parking/driving: concrete 1 050 _ 8.3 / 0 11.3 / 0 Parking/driving: pavers 200 850 1.6 / 6.7 2.1 / 9.1 Parking/driving: gravel 1 000 1 100 7.9 / 8.7 10.7 / 11.8 Parking/driving: permeable - 200 0 / 1 . 6 0 / 2.1 strips "Parking/Driving total 2 250 2 150 17.8 / 17.0 24 .2/23 .1 Walking: pavers 1 760 1200 13.9 / 9.5 18.9 / 12.9 Walking: concrete 900 - 7.1 / 0 9.7 / 0 Walking: gravel - —625 0 / 5.0 0 / 6.7 Walking: stepping stones - 315 0 / 2.5 0 / 3.4 Walking: mulch - 35 0 / 0.3 0 / 0.4 Walking total 2 660 2 175 21.1 / 17.2 2 8 . 6 / 2 3 . 4 Total landscaped area 9 310 9 3 1 0 73.7 100 The proposed design features: • a reduction of lawn area by 2520 sq ft (-76.4%) • an increase in garden area by 3105 sq ft (+282.3%) • a reduction in parking area by 100 sq ft (-4.4%) • a reduction in walking areas by 485 sq ft (-18.2%) 118 5.5 performance comparison Impact £t function audit - installation cost comparison (Table 5.2) Landscape components Quantity (original/proposed) Cost for original design (approximate) Cost for proposed design (approximate) Decorative Allan block wall 75 / 6m 5 000 400 Allan block retaining wall 50 / 25m 15 000 7 500 Pavers (patio, rear parking space, post for lamp, exterior stairs in backyard) 1 650 / 2000 sq ft 15 000 18 000 Driveway Concrete sidewalks 1 000 / 800 sq ft 886 / 0 sq ft 3 000 1 000 1 000 (plus pavers, above) Front steps 1 000 1 000 Curb-Ease concrete garden edging 1 500 2 500 Soil 3 truckloads / 0 2 500 0 Sand 1 truckload 900 900 Drainrock behind retaining walls 900 450 Drainage under retaining walls 900 450 0-pipe 300 150 Rebuilding of rear fence 2 000 3 000 Lawn 3 100 / 780 sq ft 2 000 100 Trees 1 / 10 200 2 000 Shrubs 0 / 80 • 2 000 Wildflower mix 0 / 270 sq ft 100 Composter 0 / 2 - 50 Rain barrel 0 / 2 150 Play equipment (used) 1 + 250 250 Total $ 51 750 $ 40 000 The proposed design reduces installation costs by $11,750 (22.7%) versus the conventional residential landscape design. 119 5.5 performance comparison Scorecard results (Table 5.3) A point by point explanation of the proposed yard design's score can be found in appendix h, p 150. The scorecard's first intended use, for the evaluation of existing residential landscape design, was applied in this case. The conventional yard scored low in all areas, but particularly low in the landscape categories of lawn, soil, energy, treading surfaces, food / production and chemicals, where no yeses were achieved. Evaluating one's own property in this manner is potentially helpful in deciding which landscape components are scoring lowest and which areas could be modified to notch up the performance of a suburban yard. The goal of the proposed design was to achieve the highest possible score to show how the scorecard can be used to inform design of suburban yards. By comparing performance of the proposed design to the conventional design and understanding the benefits of designing using the scorecard, the scorecard's validity is given more grounding. The proposed site scored 53 out of a. possible 54. Question 28 was not applicable as there is no need for an irrigation system in the proposed design. The design requires no irrigation except for 1.3 percent of the yard which is designed for food and production. When requiring irrigation, these areas would be watered by hand with water from rain barrels. 120 5.5 performance comparison Annual maintenance inputs Annual maintenance inputs for time, money, water, gasoline, fertilizer and pesticides are the result of a calculation of the square metre inputs documented in the CMHC publication, "Definitely in My Backyard" (2000) and the area takeoffs from the existing and proposed site design illustrated in this section. Table 5.4: Annual inputs Annual maintenance inputs for existing design Annual maintenance inputs for proposed design Annual savings over existing Annual reduction of inputs over existing Time (min.) 3526 2922 604 1 7 % , Money ($1 "" 286.14" "131T3"2" 154" 82 Water (litres) 19 518 12 523 6995 3 5 % f'Gasoline (mil 10 117 S 835 Fertilizer (g) 44 964 1 756 43*208 9 6 % i ' i -.hades (g) 2 187 2 102 96 " o performance comparison Impact Et function audit summary Garden The area of the proposed site design that is garden is 4 205 sq ft , or 45.2% of the landscaped area. This is a 282.3% increase in garden area over the conventional design and translates to a significant increase habitat value, site stability, sun protection for buildings, vehicles and residents, privacy and long-term property value. By increasing the garden area there is a reduction of environmental impacts and costs associated with fossil fuel-powered maintenance tools, irrigation, soil amendments and retaining walls. 121 Lawn The lawn area is designed to be as small as possible while stil l meeting the needs of the residents. The lawn area was reduced to 780 sq ft, or 23.6% of the conventional design but sti l l functions as a 20 x 30 ft playfield (with integrated goalposts) and a putting green. Instead of conventional roll lawn, the playfield is seeded with a mix of low-maintenance fescue species to provide a year round soft carpet of green without the need to mow, irrigate or fertilize (after initial year). This wil l eliminate the need for fossil fuel-powered maintenance tools, chemicals and the substantial volumes of drinking water typically applied to residential lawns. Soil The structure and quality of the pre-existing topsoil is carefully preserved during house construction by its removal and storage on site and then reapplication after gross site grading, house construction and paving has been completed. This practice not only eliminates the need for acquiring new top soil, it also reduces the cost and environmental impacts of earth removal from the site after excavation. Where soil amendments are required, only non-synthetic methods (preferably compost) wil l be used to optimize long-term health and self-sufficiency of soil, plants and organisms. This results in economic savings during landscaping and reduces work, chemicals and cost of maintaining soil health over time. Structures & materials A major cost and labour and material saver was found in reassessing the necessity for landscape walls, noting the difference between those that server soil retention purpose and those that are purely a contrived aesthetic. Decorative Allan block walls were reduced from 75m to 6m and retaining walls were reduced from 50m to 25m saving approximately $13 150. Treading surfaces Without reducing the capacity of the yard to accommodate vehicular and pedestrian traffic needs, the total area dedicated to treading is reduced by 585 sq ft (11.9%) as compared to the conventionally designed yard. The point of significance is that the materials have been changed to raise the degree of permeability of treading surfaces. The use of highly permeable treading surfaces (mulch, gravel, stepping stones) has been increased by 227.5% to 2 275 sq ft. The use of moderately-permeable treading surfaces (pavers) have been increased by just 4.6%, but reallocated to eliminate the need for 1 950 sq. ft. of impermeable concrete on the driveway and walkways around the house. 122 Wildlife habitat The proposed design features nearly 3 times more yard dedicated to garden areas 5 times more trees and a diverse mix of approximately 80 more native, flowering and fruit-bearing shrubs. A wildflower meadow and bird bath with help attract birds, butterflies and beneficial insects. This wil l result in a yard that is attractive to a wide-range of local and migratory bird, insect and small animal species. Water Water inputs are minimized by planting appropriate plants for the conditions, (native species and other plants that have low irrigation demands in this climate). The use of conventional lawn is eliminated. Areas of plants that require irrigation (food garden, cutting garden, accent plantings) are consolidated and minimized. Water from downspouts is collected in one of two rain barrels to eliminate the need for municipal drinking water use for irrigation purposes. Garden hoses are all equipped with spring-loaded trigger nozzles to reduce water wasting during car washing by about 75%. Water output (that which burdens neighbours, runs off property onto street, or contributes to volumes in municipal stormwater pipes) is reduced by designing multiple ways for water to be collected, slowed and absorbed into the ground on site. By increasing the amount of vegetative cover at and above the ground, water is held and disbursed before hitting the ground. Water that does hit the ground is slowed by rich, organic soil and surface irregularities allowing for absorption as close to initial point of impact as possible. Site is graded to direct excess surface water including that which runs off paved surfaces into rain gardens (gravel-filled soak-away pits in the backyard and a vegetated bio-swale in the front). The driveway is graded-to-redirect water that would otherwise run onto-street into the bio-swale. Driveway is equipped with two permeable strips into which stormwater is directed and transported under the surface to the bio-swale. Downspouts not feeding into rain barrels are disconnected from municipal storm drains and directed at garden areas equipped to accept heavy rainwater discharge. Energy Since the proposed lacks a conventional lawn, much of the energy required to maintain a conventional lawn is eliminated. Annual gasoline required for yard maintenance was reduced from 10.1 litres to 1.3 litres, a savings of 8.8 litres of fuel or 87%. By reducing the use of decorative walls by 92% and concrete by 100%, as well as reducing the delivery and removal of soil and stone, the embodied energy of the yard is reduced. 123 Food / production The square footage initially provided for food and productive purposes in the proposed yard design is rather small at just 120 sq ft, or 1.3 percent of the landscaped site, but is more than the zero percent allocated by the conventional design. Food production and productive areas are positioned for maximum sun exposure, highly visible to residents, easily accessed, close to rain barrels for irrigation and composters for occasional soil amendments. Providing opportunities for growing fruits and vegetables as well as flowers for cutting fulfills residents' urges to personalize their environment and creates opportunities to learn about gardening and the pleasures of cultivating and sharing home-grown organic food. Waste management The inclusion of two composters in the proposed design accommodates most organic household waste (approx. 40% of waste currently picked up in municipal waste collection). If a typical resident of the Georgia basin disposes of 624kg (1371 lbs) of waste, as they did in 1999, a composter can function to remove as much as 250kg of waste per person each year from landfills. The household that occupies the case study site has six human residents, resulting in an annual household reduction of nearly 1 500kg (3 300lbs) of organic waste picked up by the municipality. Following guidelines for the design of a minimal impact landscape design would result in efforts to reduce construction wastes produced during landscaping. However, the actual amount of waste reduced is not known as an audit of the quantity of waste produced vs. the minimum that could be produced was not undertaken. Chemicals An audit of chemical use on the case study site was not undertaken. However, the low-maintenance and health-oriented nature of the proposed design equates to the absence of synthetic chemicals for pest management, plant fertilizing and weather protection of structures to the greatest degree possible. The lawn and garden options selected can flourish without the use of chemicals and maintaining the yard in their absence wi l l help reduce harm to children, pets, wildlife, soil and micro-organisms that inhabit your yard, whether constantly or only occasionally. 124 6.0 final thoughts 6.1 key findings 6.1 liabilities and learni 6.2 applications 6.3 conclusion 6.1 key findings The proposed design for a suburban yard was designed using the six principles for a better yard and the suburban yard scorecard. The existing design achieved 'yes' answers to 9 out of 54 suburban yard scorecard questions. The proposed design achieved 'yes' answers to 53 out of 54 suburban yard scorecard questions (details of which are in appendix h, Table A.3, pp 150-154). The application of the six principles in the proposed design is shown in section 5.4 on pages 112-117. As compared to the existing 'conventional' design, the proposed design showed significant quantifiable reduction in initial and annual inputs*: • The proposed design reduced installation costs by $11,750 (22.7%) as compared to the conventional residential landscape design. • Annual cost of maintaining the yard fel l from $286.14 to $131.32, a savings of $154.82 or 54%. • Annual maintenance time fel l from 3526 min. (58.8 hrs.) to 2922 min. (48.7 hrs), a difference of 604 min. (10.1 hrs) or 17%. • Annual water input fell from 19 518 litres to 12 523 litres, a reduction of 6 995 litres or 35%. • Gasoline consumption was reduced from 10.1 litres to 1.3 litres, a savings of 8.8 litres or 87%. • Fertilizer consumption was reduced from 44.96 kg to 1.76 kg, a reduction of 43.20 kg or 96%. • Pesticides use fell from 2 187 g to 85 g, a reduction of 2 102 g or 96%. *The calculations for annual maintenance inputs were determined from area takeoffs from the existing and proposed designs and use annual inputs per square metre of landscape types from the CMHC publication, "Definitely in my Backyard" (2000). This evidence supports a correlation between the scorecard score and the installation cost and annual inputs. As the scorecard score approaches 54/54, there is a significant reduction in installation cost, and annual inputs of time, money, energy, water and chemicals. 126 6.2 liabilities ft learning This project attempted to dissect the suburban yard into some of the common features that are present in just about every suburban yard. Due to the range of elements from static to dynamic, a challenge was creating a consistency to the presentation of findings for every element sub-category. Due to the intentional standardization of method and presentation format for element analysis and recommendations there was undoubtedly some stretching that occurred to make the available information fit , resulting in a reasonable probability that omissions occurred. Due to the lack of clear categorical positioning and lack of applicability in the illustrative case, the common landscape elements of pools and ponds were omitted. In subsequent editions of this document, I recommend the inclusion of these suburban landscape elements. The scorecard is a method for assessing a site's compliance with numerous best practice guidelines. The goal would be to have a site that has the most possible ' y e s ' answers. However, there is no framework in place for people to know how many yeses they should have before their yard is 'good enough.' Nor is there a way of quantifying which questions carry more weight in terms of their effects on reducing impact and maximizing function other than seeing how many of the six principles and the economic and social benefits they achieve. The nature of the scorecard is that each item can be answered with a 'yes' or 'no' . Either the element is present or not. There is no way_of awarding partial points for elements that may fall between 'yes' and 'no' . Maximize and minimize are unspecific terms, like more and less. In most cases how much more and less is not identified. Answering a question like, "Are areas of lawn consolidated and minimized to the minimum acceptable for your needs?" is very subjective. However, assigning a standardized area or specific percentage would not adequately respond to the uniqueness of sites and user needs in different situations. 127 6.3 applications By demonstrating that following the 'six principles for a better suburban yard' and employing the 'suburban yard scorecard' can reduce cost and other impacts of installation and ongoing maintenance, the pieces explored in this project are have the potential to be very attractive to the public. The evidence supporting the quantitative reduction in time, money, energy, water and chemical inputs that can be achieved by making use of the suburban yard scorecard is a significant selling feature of these ideas. By building on the work in this project, it would be possible to assign values to the scorecard questions that would more accurately reflect the relative significance of the adoption of each guideline. The eventual result could be the development of a certification system for suburban yards. Being awarded a certification for achieving a high score on the scorecard could potentially be a selling feature for a suburban property. The certification would mean that the property manifests the principles for healthy, environmentally-conscious design and translates into a reduction of annual maintenance inputs for the owner. The key audience who would be most interested in this document and its application would be homeowners and designers of suburban residential landscapes. "Living Lightly" is of particular interest to those who like the idea of a low maintenance yard. However, homeowners in general can use this publication to heighten their awareness about the role of their yard in the bigger picture and understand how their decisions have direct and indirect impacts on the environment. This document can be used to stimulate deeper considerations around what homeowners may want their yard to achieve. It suggests that landscaping is more than about making a yard look like those in magazines. Landscapes designed with multiple functions in mind exhibit a deeper meaning and ingenuity in their design. They are landscapes with an intentional purpose. Landscapes designed with a vision and a focus. The key component of this project that may contribute to the work of residential landscape designers is the suburban yard scorecard. This checklist may aid in the design process or for the evaluation of existing suburban yards based on generally agreed upon best practice guidelines. The suburban yard scorecard suggests appropriate directions for creating healthy yards with minimal impact and maximum ecological function. 128 Further research Future applications of this project could have the impact on suburban yard design that LEED is having on buildings. With the suburban yard scorecard developed for this project as a starting point, the scorecard should be refined through the input of numerous academics and industry professionals who could contribute their experience and knowledge to create a consensus on all aspects of the scorecard; number and wording of questions, presentation style, etc. A subsequent goal would be to use the scorecard as a checklist that would inform a LEED-type rating system for suburban yards. The potential would be to assign a relative value to each of the scorecard questions, based on their degree of importance in minimizing impact and maximizing function of suburban yards, similar to the way the LEED rating system defines and evaluates 'green buildings' and awards them a certification or silver, gold, or platinum status. Adapting the LEED approach to suburban residential yards would likely promote integrated, environmentally conscious site design and raise awareness of the benefits of designing for minimal impact and maximum function. Applying LEED goals to suburban yard design can also establish a common standard for measurement, recognize environmental leadership in the industry, stimulate green competition and transform the landscaping market. (USGBC LEED website) 129 6.4 conclusion The primary goal of this paper is to stimulate thinking about the impacts of homeowner's decisions about their yards on the neighbourhood, regional and global scales. While primarily focused on environmental impacts, the solutions described in this document can have beneficial results environmentally, socially and in some cases reduce economic costs. Seeing the yard as a small, but important piece of multiple, interdependent systems, raises the importance of holistic-based decision making at the site level. Decision making at the site level, occurs throughout the design process as well as on a day to day basis when it comes to yard maintenance, expenditures and land use by residents and visitors. An important part of making decisions about design, maintenance and use of a site is an understanding of the current conditions of a site. Understanding the site can be as simple as answering yes or no about a wide range of existing site qualities. As the population of our cities and surrounding region expands, demands on our resources and municipal infrastructure increase. The suburban form, in its sprawling, car-centric and parceled nature, is particularly greedy on our resources and infrastructure. As much as the suburbs portray and image of being more perfect than nature or the city, their existence, as much as any —other land use remains a part of larger systems. The suburbs may be unsustainable in their current state, requiring more energy and resources to maintain than they generate, but by reducing their demands and improving their self sufficiency, we can make them last longer or all those who have invested so much already. The suburbs are admittedly not designed to be an efficient use of space— nor energy, but independent homeowners can improve the efficiency of their properties and allow the existing suburbs to endure. New Urbanist communities and Smart Growth developments may be good solutions for space and energy efficiency of new developments, but the patterns of land use of most of our current suburban developments designed since mid-century are not compatible with densification and pedestrian oriented development. The suburbs represent a massive investment of money and resources that we are not ready to abandon, and in my opinion, shouldn't have to. To the degree that we can improve suburban efficiency and reduce or mitigate resource wastage, the suburbs will endure. Reducing our consumption of fossil fuels through changes in our behaviours may come from rising fuel costs or through environmental stewardship. By reducing car trips, driving fuel efficient vehicles, improving home efficiency and by monitoring our wasteful habits, we can reduce our 130 dependence on limited resources, reduce pollution and save money. To most people who dwell in the suburbs, the biggest single financial investment of their life is their house, when in fact this is generally not the case. Houses are expensive, yes, but the land that the house occupies is frequently assessed the higher price tag. The suburban yard is all too often ignored or misunderstood. The suburban yard's value is forgotten. The value of the suburban yard is not only downplayed in financial terms, but even more so in terms of its intrinsic role. If land is worth so much for us to invest the better part of our middle years of our lives to work to pay for i t , why do we consciously decide to abuse it with chemicals and tools to change it into something that is less productive, less alive, less diverse, and less able to care for itself that nature wil l do for us? Anthropocentric land use is merely an interruption to natural systems. The degree to which we disturb these natural systems is under our control. By raising our awareness of the important role these systems are playing in the behaviour of our environment as well as the contribution they make to the livability and uniqueness of or bioregion, we can raise our level of appreciation for their significance to providing us with everything we need to live. Our environment has provided us with the resources necessary to build our homes and live comfortably. It is up to the individual to decide how much he or she wil l demonstrate appreciation of the environment in return. By beating it down, poisoning it and by needlessly wasting the resources our environment bears? Or by practicing stewardship for our environment, appreciating what we have and meeting our needs without being wasteful? This document represents an exploration into the choices people have for their properties with the goal of improving the health of all aspects of the complex and familiar organism known as the suburban yard. In organisms, health is a state of optimal well-being. Health is a state of equilibrium between inputs and-outputs of energyand matter.-Health is a state where there is good prospect for continued survival. If we are to expect our environment to survive, like our bodies, we must support it to be healthy. There are a lot of things in this world as individuals we do not have much control over, but the decisions we make in our daily lives as well how we are going to make our contributions to the world are no one's but our own. Whatever choices we make there will be a result and we have the power, particularly on our own property, to choose what those results wil l be. By raising our awareness of the consequences of our decisions, we can make well-informed choices that wil l have the result we want. It is possible, if not necessary, for individuals to make decisions with health as a priority. A war with nature is ultimately a war with ourselves. Taking steps to improve the health of our environment wil l stimulate our personal health and well-being. We, as individuals and as a 131 collective, can make a real difference. We can save our time, money and energy while improving the quality of our environment and our quality of life. It requires a reframing of how we relate to the suburban yard. We wil l change our expectations of the role of the suburban yard and shift our perception of what the suburban yard represents, from a purely aesthetic one, to one of mitigating the impacts that our behaviours inherently have on our environment. We can choose the future for our suburbs. A change in attitude will not only support the health of the environment, it will support the health and quality of life of the individual. It means lightening the impacts of the way we live, saving us money, energy and time while simultaneously improving the level of ecological function of the world around us. 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Healey, Michaerr(ed.). Seeking Sustainability in the Lower FraserBasin: Issues and Choices. Institute for Resources and the Environment, Westwater Research. University of Britisah Columbia. 1999. Jenkins, Virginia Scott. The Lawn: A History of an American Obsession. Smithsonian Institution Press. 1994. Rubin, Carole. How to get your lawn off grass. A North American Guide to Turning off the Water Tap and Going Native. 1989. Statistics Canada. Ottawa. 1991. Wilhide, Elizabeth. ECO: An Essential Sourcebook for Environmentally Friendly Design and Decoration. Quadrille. 2004. 133 internet: BC Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks. Georgia Basin Puget Sound Report. 2001. <> "Saving Migratory Birds." Burnaby Mountain Community Corporation. "East Neighbourhood Plan Part Four: Development Guidelines." A new community at Simon Fraser University. 2003. <> City of Coquitlam website: "City History Et Heritage." .htm City of Coquitlam website: "Garbage and Recycling Guidelines." City of Vancouver, Engineering Services website. "Solid Waste: Environmental Protection at Vancouver Landfi l l . " 2006. <> website: "Water and Sanitary Sewer Systems." <> Eartheasy website. "Global Warming: What We Can Do About It." <> Environment Canada website - Transportation Systems Branch: Take Action! What Can You Do? Air Pollution from Lawn and Garden Equipment. <> Environment Canada website - "Water: No Time to Waste - A Consumer's Guide to Water Conservation." <> Environment Canada website. "What You Can Do: Your Yard. Collecting and Retaining Water." <> Environment Canada website. "What You Can Do: Your Yard. Creating Your Garden." <> Environment Canada website. "What You Can Do: Your Yard. Garden and Lawn Pesticides and Alternatives." <> Fleissig, Will Et Jacobsen, Vickie. Smart Scorecard for Development Projects. 2002. <> Go for Green. "Fact Sheet #3: The Health and Environmental Costs of Garden Chemicals." <> Go for Green. "Fact sheet #5: Water-Wise Gardening." <> GVRD website. "Composting." <> GVRD website. "Garbage Et Recycling." 134 GVRD website. "Water". Ottawa website "Ferti l izers." <> Ottawa website "Pesticides." < l> SmartGrowthBC website. "Sprawl Fact Sheet and Background." <> University of Manitoba Sustainable Community Design website. "Building Ecology." < arch005.htm> University of Minnesota Metropolitan Design Center. "Sustainable Yard Series - Create a Productive Yard." < pc_hud/pdfs/HUD_10ProductiveYard.pdf> USGBC LEED website. <> Nov. 23, 2005 US Environmental Protection Agency. "Heat Island Site." <> US Environmental Protection Agency. "Mid-Atlantic Region Green Landscaping - Reducing the Use of Power Equipment." < /garden/equip.htm> US Environmental Protection Agency. "Mid-Atlantic Region Green Landscaping -Why Do It? Problems With Traditional Landscaping." <> Wikipedia website. "Internal Combustion Engine." <> Wikipedia website. "Gardening." < http: / / en. wi ki pedi a. o rg / wi ki / gardeni ng> World Wildlife Fund website. "Reducing Your Risk: A Guide to Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals" <> Natural Resources Canada Website. "Geomap Vancouver - Geological Units." <> 135 images: Fig. 1.4: Byrd, Kevin. Photo: "Hot A i r " . Feb 2004. http: / / byrdhouse. ty pepad. com / photos / hotai r/ dsc02912. html Fig. 3.26: Byrd, Kevin. Photo: "The Butterfly Effect". Sept. 2004. http: / / by rdhouse. typepad. com / photos / uncategorized / butterf ly_by rdhouse. j pg Fig. 3.33: Fig. 3.34: Condon, et a l . , Design Manual for B.C. Communities. 2003. Fig. 3.36: Fig. 3.41: United Nations Environmental Programme. "Total and per capita energy consumption, 1995." Global Environment Outlook 2000. 1999. Fig. 3.42: Embodied Energy of Materials. University of Manitoba Sustainable Community Design website, design/arch/arch005.htm Fig. 3.47: Strutynski, Niki. Photo: "Growing Food." May 2005. 136 appendix a alternatives to chemicals Alternatives to synthetic pesticides (Environment Canada - website) • Insects such as spider mites, aphids and mealy bugs can be removed from your plants, bushes and trees by hosing them off with a strong burst of water. • Wearing garden gloves pick off small insects such as lilac leaf miners, leaf rollers, Colorado potato beetles, and spruce budworms. This is best done early in the morning. Pick forest tent caterpillar larvae off your plants when they cluster together on cool days or in the late evening. Remove eggs or cocoons from other species in the same manner. • Keep cutworms away from your tomatoes, peas, cabbages, and beans by removing both ends of a can and sinking it around the bedding plants, or by placing aluminum foil around the base of the plants. • If you don't want to let bugs move in, keep old bags, decaying vegetables and other rubbish out of your yard because they can provide homes for insects. Old tires often provide breeding places for mosquitoes. • Get rid of slugs by placing flat boards near your plants. Later, lift the boards and destroy the slugs that have gathered there to avoid the sunlight. • Plant marigolds, chrysanthemums, chives, onions, garlic, basil, savory, horseradish, mint, thyme and the like among and near your garden plants because their natural odours and root secretions repel some insects. • Insecticidal soaps can be used to dislodge or suffocate insects. -• If you feel that pesticides are-required, use degradable natural products suchas Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). (The labels usually say "thuricide" or "biological insecticide.") • Put bird feeders and bird houses in your yard; birds are a natural form of insect control. • Invite toads into your vegetable patch by building a "toad house", such as an old terra cotta pot with an opening in the side, or a small pile of rocks with an opening. Alternatives to synthetic herbicides (Environment Canada - website) • Dig out weeds by hand • Hoe your garden regularly to control weeds and keep plants healthier. 137 Alternatives to synthetic fertilizers • "Organic Fertilizers include compost, manure, and fish, bone or blood meal. They are slow release because they must decompose before the nutrients are released. They are bulky, take effort to apply, and the nutrient content is low. Fortunately they improve the tilth of the soil making it more porous, giving it better water drainage and water storage. They improve the storage of all nutrients thereby reducing the rate at which nutrients leach into the waterways. They also supply micro-nutrients needed for plant growth, and feed the earthworms and other organisms that live in the soil. There are organic lawn fertilizers available that are formed into pellets for easy handling that are applied to the lawn once a year in the early summer." (Environment Canada - website) • "Compost and composted manure are wonderful organic alternatives to chemical ferti l izers" (Go for Green Fact Sheet #3) 138 appendix b site context Existing site Centered in the heart of the Lower Mainland on the West Coast of British Columbia, Canada, Coquitlam is just a 30-minute drive from downtown Vancouver, BC's largest city, and about 20 minutes from the US border. (See Fig. A .1 , A.2, A.3) The site, found at N49°14'16" W122°50'9", in Coquitlam, is located on a stable, gently sloping plateau near the southern edge of the hill just north of the Fraser River and south of the eastern tip of the Burrard Inlet. The site is located in an area of heterogeneous glacial t i l l , consisting of clay, silt, sand and stones ranging from pebble to boulder size. This t i l l is the same material covering much of Vancouver and the lower slopes of the Coast Mountains. "T i l l commonly has a high bearing capacity and thus is an excellent foundation material. Compact t i l l is nearly impervious; for good drainage, the surface must slope. Silt- and clay-bearing tills disturbed during construction activities can be a major source of stream siltation" (Natural Resources Canada Website). The site is within a predominantly residential area with nearby parks and schools. It is located at 2135 Palliser Ave. Fig. A.1: City scale: study site indicated by arrow Fig. A.3: Street scale: study site indicated by arrow 139 The subdivision was originally developed in the mid-1960s and the site received its first single family house in 1965. That house was moved from the site in early 2004 to make room for the construction of a new house and detached garage. Many neighbours have also recently renovated their houses and some of the original houses in the neighbourhood have recently been replaced with new buildings. The parcel is bordered by Palliser Ave. on the south side and by a paved laneway on north. The design of the new residence includes a primary suite and a secondary suite, with a total of six residents occupying the main building. The main building includes a two car garage accessed from Palliser Ave. A detached garage at the northeast corner of the property accommodates another two vehicles from the rear laneway. The total area of the property is 10 811 sq. ft. when the municipal right of way on the south side is omitted. The yard is 12 624 sq. ft. including the property and right of way up to the existing curb on Palliser Ave. There are no sidewalks on Palliser Ave. The house has a larger footprint than most in this neighbourhood (See Fig A.4), and maximizes the permitted Fig. A.4: Block scale: study site and footprints of surrounding building area for this site. (See Fig A.5) buildings Fig. A.5: Parcel scale: buildings' position and size relative to site 140 appendix b site context Existing site This is a sun diagram for Mar. 21 and Sep. 21 (Fig. A.6) • light grey shadows are 10:00 a.m. • dark grey shadows are 2:00 p.m. The site has excellent solar exposure in the font yard and the northwest corner of the backyard. t «••»•> - ->» • i," i '~' **'.»• —- — _ : .»•,*„ • ».« « | Fig. A.6: Parcel scale: shadow diagram (not to scale) 141 appendix b site context Existing site The site slopes from the northwest to the southwest at 7.7%, with and elevation change of 3.65m over the 47.20m diagonal (Fig. A.7). As the residence was nearing completion in the autumn of 2004, the yard was a blank slate for landscape design (Fig. A.8). Soon after this photo was taken, the landscape was installed using conventional suburban landscape techniques. Fig. A.7: Parcel scale: new house overlaid on pre existing contour lines SS£M • Fig A.8: Site as seen from south-west corner appendix c area takeoffs Table A. 1: Area takeoffs Landscape Description Area (sq ft) Percent of total site Percent of non-built Total property 10 812 85.6 -Total to road (incl. ROW) 12 624 100 -House 2 865 22.7 Detached garage 444 3.5 -Total buildings 3 309 26.2 -Total to road non-built 9 317 73.8 100 Lawn 3 100 24.6 33.3 Parking/Driving concrete 1 000 7.9 Parking/Driving pavers 200 1.6 Parking/Driving gravel 785 6.2 Parking/Driving total 1 985 15.7 21.3 Garden 766 6.1 8.2 Walking concrete 886 7.0 Walking pavers 1 650 13.1 Walking total 2 536 20.1 27.2 Leftover space 321 2.5 3.4 Fig A.9: Landscape coverage proportions E x i s t i n g L a n d s c a p e C h a r a t e r i s t i c s E x c l u d i n g B u i l d i n g s E x i s t i n g L a n d s c a p e C h a r a t e r i s t i c s I n c l u d i n g B u i l d i n g s • Lawn • Walking • Parking/Driving • Garden • Leftover • Buildings • Lawn • Walking • Parking/Driving H Garden • Leftover 143 appendix d installation expenses Table A.2: Landscape installation expenses Landscape components Quantity Cost (approximate) Decorative Allan block wall 75m 5 000 Allan block retaining wall 50m 15 000 Pavers (patio, rear parking space, post for 1 650 sq ft 15 000 lamp, exterior stairs in backyard) Soil 3 truckloads 2 500 Sand 1 truckload 900 Drainrock behind retaining walls 900 Drainage under retaining walls 900 0-pipe 300 Rebuilding of rear fence 2 000 Lawn 3 100 sq ft 2 000 Driveway 1 985 sq ft 3 000 Concrete sidewalks 886 sq ft 1 000 Front steps 1 000 Curb-Ease concrete garden edging 1 500 Play equipment (used) + 250 Total $ 51 750 144 appendix e client interview site analysis Residents' Hobbies Golfing Dancing Barbequing Minimal Gardening (flower pots) Sitting, eating on the back deck Sitting on the front veranda Riding bikes Playing soccer Playing hockey Site conditions Deficiencies Front yard Visual: Functional: Back yard Visual: Functional: Manhole covers (hide but keep accessible) Backing out of driveway requires caution (cars drive by quickly) None reported Absence of storage for garden tools i.e. lawn mower, shovels, etc. Features to be maintained or enhanced Front yard Visual: 7 large granite boulders unearthed from site during excavation for foundation Style of Allan Block walls Functional: Back yard Visual: Functional: Separation between "unfinished" road and landscaping (physical barrier) Dimensions of driveway Curb border to separate lawn and gardens Allan Block walls Pavers Curves Colours / textures match building Ramp (for maintenance i.e. lawnmower, and play i.e. kids on bikes) Raised planter Parking for trailer (potential for powerboat parking in future) Gates on back fence (bi-folding) Opportunity to practice putting Client interview cont. 145 Acceptable annual maintenance cost: $250 - 300 Desired materials: Cedar, fir lumber (fences) Allan block walls (decorative and retaining) Desired plant materials: A few roses, no more than were brought from previous residence Grass Evergreen trees blue spruce, creeping spruce Japanese maples (small, mounding) Flowering trees (long blooming season) Weeping small trees Colourful flowering shrubs Blue star juniper Dusty miller Discouraged plant materials: Weeds, morning glory, bamboo, ivy, willow, disease prone plants, more roses 146 appendix f neighbours and views Fig. A. 10: Neighbours and views view. laneway. view. Simon Fraser University lacks visual appeal. Fences, blackberry bushes, backs of houses, mature trees small vista to coastal mountain range neighbours. nice yards, nice neighbours, fruit trees and vegetable gardens site neighbour. nothing noteworthy, views are obstructed by high fence, mostly lawn view. street. view. desirable view along Fraser River towards Surrey, New Westminster, Richmond Facing neighbours, mature trees and shrubs Mount Baker on clear days. Port Mann Bridge can also be seen. Fig. A. 11: Existing yard design (left) and proposed design. 147 appendix g planting plan Fig. A. 12: west side of property sunflowers pumpkins strawberries cucumbers bean teepee Mahom'a aquifolium Vaccinium ovatum Oregon grape huckleberry Acer circinatum Buddteia davidii Camellia Ceanothus velutinus Cornus sericea Euonymus alatus 'Compactus' Gaultheria shallon Hosta 'Piedmont Gold' Hosta sieboldiana 'Elegans' Mahonia aquifolium Mahom'a nervosa Oemieria cerasiformis Physocarpus capitatus Ribes sanguineum Rosa nutkana itdfiower meadow Achillea millefolium Allium acuminatum Allium cernuum var. cernuum Anaphalis margaritacea Anemone multifida Anemone occidentalis Armeria maritima californica Aruncus Sylvester Asarum caudatum Aster modestus Aster laevis car geyeri Aster subspicatus var. subspicatus Balsamorhiza sagittata Campanula rotundifolia Dicentra formosa Dodecatheon pulchellum Eriophyllum lanatum Heuchera micrantha var. diversifolia Sedum spathulifolium var. spathulifolium Tellima grandiflora vine maple butterfly bush snowbrush red-osier dogwood winged buring bush salal tall Oregon grape dwarf Oregon grape Indian plum Pacific m'nebark red-flowering currant Nootka rose common yarrow Hooker's onion nodding onion pearly everlasting cut-leaved anemone western anemone thrift goat's beard wild ginger great northern aster smooth aster Douglas' aster balsam-root, spring sunflowers harebell, bluebell, scotch bellflower Pacific bleeding heart few flowered shooting star wolly sunflower small flowered alumroot broad leaved stonecrop tall fringecup Planted bioswal« Permeable parking shoul< 148 § P Fig. A.13: east side of property Acer palmatum (existing) Betula papyrifera (3) Cercidiphyllum japonicum Chamaecyparis nootkatensis Juniperus scopulorum Pinus parviflora 'Adcock's dwarf Rhamnus purshiana Tsuga mertensiana Japanese Maple Paperbark Birch Katsura Tree Yellow-Cedar Rocky Mountain Juniper Japanese White Pine Cascara Mountain Hemlock Low-maintenance lawn seed mix including: Bouteloua curtipendula Buchlow dactyloides Festuca longifolia Fectuca ovina Festuca rubra Festuca rubra var. cummutata Lotus corniculatus Outeloua gracilis Poa compressa Cornus canadensis Gaultheria shallon Mahom'a nervosa Maian themum dilatutm Polystichum munitum Roses (existing) Clematis Lilac Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Fragaria virginiana Genista pilosa Vancouver Gold' Lavandula angustifolia Rosa gymnocarpa k-away pits ft bio-swale Adiantum pedatum Athyrium filix-femina Blechnum spicant Carex rostrata Cornus canadensis 3uncus eff usus Side-oats Grama* Buffalo Grass* Hard Fescuet Sheep Fescuet Creeping Red Fescuet Chewings Fescuet Birdsfoot Trefoil Blue Grama* Canada Blue Grass! *Warm Season tCool Season Canada Bunchberry Salal Oregon Grape False Lily of the Valley Sword Fern Kinnikinnick Common Strawberry Vancouver Gold Broom Lavender Baldhip Rose Northern Maidenhair fern Lady Fern Deer Fern Beaked Sedge Canada Bunchberry Bog Rush appendix h scoring the proposed design (Table A. 3) Proposed means for achievement of checklist question that are designated as either the result of design are marked with a 'D' and those that are the result of maintenance practices are marked with an ' M ' . Question Y/N 1 Is there a diversity of plants Y (including natives) that are well-suited to soil, sunlight and moisture conditions? 2 Is there a diversity of pest-resistant Y species? 3 Are plants the material of choice to Y separate areas, control pedestrian movement and create privacy? 4 Are trees or large shrubs placed to Y provide shade for buildings and outdoor living spaces? D/M Proposed achievement D Multiple species of trees, shrubs and ground covers are used in gardens on all sides of house D A variety of species are used, many of which are native and pest resistant (see planting plan) D Trees in front and back yard help to create privacy. Shrub beds define and separate areas of yard and help control pedestrian movement. Vegetated bio-swale separated vehicular parking strip and garden. D Deciduous trees on south side of house provide some shade to building. Evergreens in backyard help shade detached garage. Fruit tree provides shade for play spaces. Some deciduous trees beside driveway reduce heat from pacing and keep parked cars protected from the sun. Isthe garden free of invasive species? Are flowering shrubs and perennials used in lieu of ornamental trees, ornamental shrubs and flower beds? Is the mature height and spread of plants well-suited to their location? Are plants grouped according to their watering requirements? No invasive plant species are used inthe garden. Flowering shrubs and perennials are used in lieu of ornamentals and flowerbeds except in cutting garden and small border/accent plantings. Plants are space appropriately with mature height and spread in mind. Plants with low water needs (natives, wildflowers, xeriscape, low-maintenance lawn) grouped separately from plants that required irrigation (food garden, cutting flowers, border/accent plantings). Plants that require irrigation are easily accessible and restricted to small areas. 150 9 Question Y/N D/M Proposed achievement Are edges of planting beds defined Y D Borders are used to define lawn area and with borders? separate lawn and planting beds. 10 Is unused lawn replaced with a Y planting bed or wildflower meadow? 11 Are lawn areas consolidated and Y minimized while stil l meeting the minimum area for required uses? 12 Are lawn areas seeded with low- Y maintenance varieties of grasses? 13 Is lawn maintained without the use Y of chemicals, mowed no shorter than 10 cm and maintained with electric or human-powered equipment that leaves the clippings on the grass? 14 Are plants selected suitable for soil Y conditions? 15 Are plants used to reduce erosion Y and stabilize slopes? 16 Is compost, rather than chemical Y fertilizers or imported soil, used when soil amendments are required? 17 Are amendments targeted to areas Y where they are needed and free of synthetic chemicals? 18 Is topsoil preserved while properly Y accommodating existing and new site features? 19 Is the use of manufactured fencing Y limited to the acceptable minimum? D Unused and stressed front lawn is replaced with a wildflower meadow and low-maintenance native trees, shrubs and perennials. Back lawn is reduced and consolidated to the acceptable minimum and enhanced functionally with residents desired us in mind. D Lawn areas are consolidated and limited to acceptable minimum while meeting the needs of site users. D Lawn areas are seeded with low-maintenance seed varieties. M Lawn is maintained without the use of chemicals, grass clippings are left on the lawn and human-powered tools are used. D Plants are selected to be compatible with existing soil conditions (moisture, organic content, pH, etc.) D Plants are used to reduce erosion and stabilize slopes, particularly across back yard, in xeriscape beside driveway and in and around vegetated bio-swale at front of property. M Compost is the only soil amendment used (as a fertilizer and to improve soils moisture-retaining capacity) M Amendments are only applied selectively to areas where they are most needed. D Topsoil is preserved during construction and reused for new design so no new soil is required. D New gates constructed from existing fence materials. 151 Question Y/N 20 Does play equipment stimulate Y children's creativity and is it low-toxicity? 21 Are retaining walls and decorative Y walls used only to the extent necessary? 22 Is outdoor furniture made from Y recycled materials or manufactured locally? 23 Is decking designed and installed to Y minimize construction waste and resist weathering? 24 Are areas for vehicular and Y pedestrian treading reduced to the acceptable minimum? 25 Is the permeability of treading Y surfaces maximized for their required use? 26 Are there a variety of plant species Y that provide habitat value? 27 Are native species, fruiting and Y flowering plants that bear fruit throughout the year and some plants that attract insects included in the garden? 28 Is food, water and shelter for birds Y provided? 29 Are domestic animals kept under Y control? 30 Is the use of pesticides avoided? Y D/M Proposed achievement D,M Play equipment is integrated with fruit tree, food garden and playfield. Low-toxicity finishes used. D Retaining walls are limited to structural necessity along east edge of property. D Outdoor play equipment is 2 hand. Furnishings are made from locally-sourced suppliers that use recycled materials. D Decking is designed and installed to minimize construction waste and resist weathering. D Approx. 7 full-sized vehicles can be accommodated on site (plus 4 in garages), while reducing impermeability to m 2 per vehicle. Areas for pedestrian movement are reduced to the acceptable minimum. D Treading surfaces maximum permeability appropriate to levels of traffic. (Vehicles: High - pavers; Low - crushed stone; Pedestrians: High - pavers, stepping stones; Low - crushed stone, bark mulch) D Fruit bearing and native trees and shrubs are plentiful in the proposed design. D Fruit bearing and native trees and shrubs are plentiful in the-proposed design. A wildflower meadow garden attracts butterflies and beneficial insects. D Fruit bearing shrubs provide food for birds. A bird bath provides water for birds to drink and bathe. Native species of trees and shrubs provide familiar shelter. M Domestic cats are kept indoors. One dog is mainly indoors and has a designated area to relieve itself. D,M No pesticides are used. 152 Question Y/N D/M 31 Are plants selected well-suited to Y D climate and soil moisture levels? 33 Is turf grass minimized? Proposed achievement Plants are selected and positioned based on climate and soil moisture levels (i.e. wildflower meadow, native shade garden) Turf grass is minimized and replaced with low-maintenance lawn. 34 Is rainwater captured and reused on site? D,M Rain barrels collect rainwater from roofs of house and detached garage for irrigation purposes. 35 Where irrigation is necessary, is it a N/A D,M No irrigation system is used. Hand high efficiency system and not a portable above-ground sprinkler? watering with collected rainwater is used to irrigate food garden, cutting garden and accent plantings. 36 Does all water flow away from house, patio, driveway and shed? Site is graded to ensure all water flows away from buildings. In backyard, water flows toward soak-away swales (deep holes fil led with coarse aggregate, allowing for the retention and infiltration of stormwater. 37 Are impermeable surfaces minimized? Driveway has permeable strips, rear paving is modest, and paths permeability is maximized. 38 Is all water falling on the property managed on site? All water can be absorbed slowly into ground on site using vegetation and bio-swales. 39 Does the yard manifest principles for low-maintenance design? Six principles drive design and show up repeatedly, reducing embodied energy and maintenance energy. 40 Do structures and materials have an Y embodied energy coefficient of less than 0.4 kWh/kg? Structures and materials have relatively low embodied energy. Preformed concrete blocks and pavers are used conservatively. Metals are minimal. Recycled materials are acquired from local sources. Materials imported to and removed from site are minimized. 41 Is yard maintenance limited to non-polluting maintenance practices? M Yard maintenance is done by hand. The requirement for power tools to maintain yard is minimized by low-maintenance yard design. 153 Question Y/N 42 Are trees or large shrubs used to Y shade the house during the hottest times of the year? 44 Are fruit trees and/or fruit bushes Y included on site? 45 Is a food garden included? Y 46 Is a cutting garden included? Y 47 Are materials for the yard carefully Y considered for the degree of their necessity and their durability, life-span, and recycled content? 48 Is plant material used to do jobs Y conventionally done by structures? 49 Is a composter provided and Y utilized for organic household waste and garden trimmings? 50 Are construction wastes, packaging Y and maintenance tools recycled to the highest available standards? 51 Are hazardous materials and Y chemicals disposed of properly? 52 Are plants hardy and pest/disease Y resistant including a variety of native plant species? 53 Is the least harmful treatment for Y controlling pests and disease selected? 54 Are organic fertilizers or compost Y used when soil amendments are required? D/M Proposed achievement D Trees are used to help shade buildings during hottest times of the year. D Fruit-bearing trees and bushes are included in site design including espalier fence on west edge of site. D,M Food garden planted with sunflowers, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins and a bean teepee. D,M Filled with roses and other fragrant and attractive cutting flowers. D Materials are selected for appropriate durability and recycled content and their use is limited to the acceptable minimum, (i.e. Allan blocks and pavers) D Plants are used to help manage stormwater and stabilize slopes. D,M Two composters are provided and utilized. D,M Construction waste is minimized and recycled to the highest available standards. M Hazardous materials are disposed of through municipal hazardous waste program. D Plants are hardy/native and disease resistant. M Pest-control uses least harmful methods as per section 3.11.5. M Compost is the only soil amendment used. 154 appendix i p r e s e n t a t i o n pane ls 1 Fig. A. 14 Living Lightly: Minimi. P r o b I e m Single detached dwellings (suburban homes) make up over 57* of the Canadian housing stock, which represents a significant quan-tity of privately-held land for which homeowners are responsible. The chokes suburban landholders maKe regarding their yards typically perpetuate the need far extenyve resource inputs, create landscapes that support littleecological function, and compromise human and environments health. The convention-ally designed suburban yard is based on an unnatufat aesthetic that is constantly at oddswlin natural prrxesses, resulting in sig-nificant inputs of time, money, and enerjy for its installation and maintenance, f &s£^-~~*^\^X "• ~*\ \ V The goal of this project Is to'contfibute to the geHefat*-population's understanding of the importance of and best prac-tices for sustainable design, improving their ability to maris deci-sions that minimize the environmental impacts and maximize the ecotogicat functions of suburban yards. ^ ^ C w t l \r^^^S 1. Raise awareness about a the residential yard's rote & impact in larger systems: 2. Offer options that reduce Impact on larger systems and con-tribute to a healthy planet; J. Develop a scoring system / checklist to steer or assess the sus-tainability of a suburban yard, and; 4, illustrate the environmental, social and economic benefits of designing a yard that wilt score higher on the checklist as com-pared to a conventional suburban yard and in doing so demon-strate reduced impact and increased function. decision m a k i n g The key characteristic of the suburban structure that tends itself to rebuilding healthy natural systems is the high percentage of privately-owned open space,. Living Lightly explores decision making based on the ecosystems approach and. environmental health. JF jSjO i \ V Health % defined, for the purpose* of this project, as a condition of optima! welt-being and implies jood prospects for continued survival. | III r I \ The ecosystem's approach sees "human beings and thehuman. economy as dominating & integral components of the toihplex weti of Wer-retationships among living organismsand the physical environment. This approach recognizes not or.iy the overwhelm-ing importance of the human species in transforming jthe global landscape and ecological processes but also humanity's complete dependence on the ecological and physical processes that its ac-tions continually alter. * v i s i o n s t a t e m e n t The suburban yard should function to mitigate the disturbance of the house by supporting the cycles and flows of natural systems while contributing to the health and economy of aw individual and the community. 155 p r e s e n t a t i o n pane ls 2 Fig. A. 15 zing Impact and Maximizing, The six principles for a better suburban yard were created by drawing out explicit and implicit best-practice guidelines from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation's Landscape Guide for Canadian Homes and by analyzing ecologically and socially successful landscape designs and reverse engineering them to de-termine which prioritiesdrive the designs. These priorities were then arranged into six categories. Each category became a prin-cipte and was given a memorable title that alluded to the original best-practice guidelines. These six principles for a better subur-ban yard Inform good landscape design and decision making: 1. Let nature do the work 4. Alive is better than dead 1. Be water wise 5. Emphasize the local J. Nurture nature 6. Waste nothing l a n d s c a p e e l e m e n t ^ To better understand the complex interrelationships within the ecosystem and our society, the suburban yard can be dissected into some generalized functional categories, called landscape ele-ments. The exploration of each landscape etement includes its impacts in the world in relation to complexity and scale, specific guidelines for minimizing impact and maximizing function, and a comparison of conventional and alternative options. inputs outputs The purpose of the scorecard is two-fold. First, the scorecard can l>d used by homeowners or designers to evaluate the existing con-dition of a suburban yard, seeing where the yard is manifesting best«practice guidelines as well as the site's best-practice defi-ciencies. Second, the scorecard can be used by those designing suburban yards to minimize the^ecotogical and financial impacts and maximize the ecological and social functions of the site. c a s e s tudy The illustrative case study functions to demonstrate the applica-tion of best-practice guidelines to a typical suburban yard tn a i way that people can understand and to which they can relate, j The illustrative case study Is also a means by which to evaluate: the effectiveness of theisoburban yard scorecard and six prin-ciples.- — - ' - * — - i — ~——X~ c o n v e n t i o n a l d e s i g n The case study site's existing design Is of the conventional subur-ban yard aesthetic, featuring large areas of lawn, paved surfaces and planting beds containing ornamental shrubs. p r e s e n t a t i o n pane ls 3 notion of Suburban Yards j**^  r s o i l s i The proposed design is an illustrative example of how the six principles and the suburban yard scorecard affect design. c o m p a n so n In the proposed design, installation cost and annual inputs of money; time, water, gasoline, fertilizer and pesticides were re-duced significantly. Areas of lawn and impermeable surfaces were reduced and areas suitable tor habitat, food production and natural stormwater infiltration were increased. Designing using the six principles and the suburban yard scorecard resulted in installation costs being reduced by $1t,750 (22.7X) and annual maintenance costs being reduced by S154.82 ( 5 « ) . 3>f ~Wi vw 0 Comparing the conventional design to a best-practice design re-veals evidence that supports a correlation between the scorecard score and the installation cost and annual inputs. As the score-card score approaches 54/54, there is a significant reduction in installation cost, and annual inputs of time, money, water, fuel and chemicals. Individuals make choices about their yards. The ecologically-inspired manner of decision making explored in Living Lightly, when multiplied across thousands of suburban yards, will result in a significant reduction to the strain that the suburbs have on our human-designed infrastructures and our natural resources. 1 5 7 


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