For Immediate Release - May 03, 2011

State Environmental Officials Highlight Sustainable Landscaping Care

BOSTON - May 3, 2010 - With summer approaching, state agricultural and environmental officials are encouraging Massachusetts residents to use sustainable landscaping practices.

"Well-tended landscapes can have enormous ecological and aesthetic benefits to neighborhoods and communities," said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. "With a little extra effort and forethought, residents of the Commonwealth can ensure that their yards and gardens also incorporate environmentally sound practices that benefit local wildlife and precious water resources."

Residents are reminded: Whether you are landscaping a half-acre lot or planting a small garden, choosing native varieties of flowers, shrubs and trees supports the Commonwealth's natural environment. Naturally suited for the Massachusetts climate, native varieties tend to require less water and chemical fertilizers in order to thrive than do their exotic, non-native counterparts. Local Massachusetts nurseries and garden centers can provide expert advice on plants and seeds that are resilient and adaptive to New England climate variables. By consulting local nurseries and garden centers, gardeners can make a win-win choice: supporting Massachusetts businesses, while making ecologically smart choices for their yards and gardens.

Typically, Massachusetts lawns and landscapes need no more than one inch of water per week, including the water received from rainfall. Drought-tolerant plantings require even less, and native landscapes may require no supplemental watering once they're established. By incorporating efficient irrigation practices, including installing rainwater collection systems to supplement rainfall, and low-impact development practices such as, drought-resistant landscape techniques and rain gardens, gardeners can have an aesthetically pleasing garden with the least impact on water resources.

In addition, plantings can help lower summer temperatures in urban environments, mitigating the so-called "heat island effect." Through shading and as water is released from the earth into the atmosphere, lawns, trees and shrubs can reduce air temperatures in urban areas by up to 14 degrees. From an air quality perspective, lawns and landscapes can prevent millions of tons of soil particles containing dust and dirt from being released into the atmosphere and re-deposited annually.

"From the aesthetic to the ecological, lawns and landscapes are often overlooked for the significant benefits they provide to our daily lives," said Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Scott J. Soares. "I encourage residents to visit their local garden centers to learn more about good lawn and landscape care practices that are best suited to our environment and their lifestyles."

"In Massachusetts, as well as across the country, the movement from traditional water-intensive plantings to more environmentally sound landscaping practices is being incorporated into the fabric of our horticultural choices," said Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) Commissioner Ken Kimmell. "A natural landscape is not only great to look at - it also cleanses and filters water."

Throughout the Commonwealth, 814 flower and nursery growers employ more than 4,000 workers, and generate more than 30 percent of all total agricultural sales ($177 million annually) for the state's economy. The state urges residents to promote a vibrant and sustainable agricultural future for Massachusetts by visiting local garden centers that can offer expertise in environmentally-friendly landscape plant offerings. To find a garden center near you, go to http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/map.htm.

"Massachusetts residents have the great fortune to live in a state that has significant diversity of climate and soils," said Rena M. Sumner, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Nursery and Landscape Association, Inc. "With the right plants surrounding your home, you can cut up to 25 percent off your energy bill. The professionals in the Massachusetts nursery and landscape industry are uniquely qualified to assist homeowners with all of their garden and landscape design and can help homeowners to be environmental stewards while enjoying the beauty and benefits of the outdoors."

Homeowners looking to enjoy the benefits of sustainable landscapes are encouraged to look for a MA Certified Horticulturist in their hometown at Massachusetts Nursery and Landscape Association, Inc. (MNLA).

For tips on lawn care suited to Massachusetts' weather and climate, residents may consult the Massachusetts Association of Lawn Care Professionals (MALCP), the Northeast Organic Farmers Association Organic Land Care Program, and the Ecological Landscaping Association. MassDEP also offers tips for a step-by-step guide to lawn care that protects water resources and public health. The guide offers suggestions about using organic fertilizers, how to select landscaping plants and grasses, and strategies for watering efficiently.

Information about tips for lawn care strategies to protect water resources.

Information on rail barrels and other water conservation tools.

Information on the best management practices for lawn and landscape turf.

Information about recycling lawn clippings.

DAR logo DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of local agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions - Agricultural Development, Animal Health, Crop and Pest Services, and Technical Assistance - the DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the Commonwealth's agricultural community, working to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture's role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR's website at www.mass.gov/agr, and/or follow at twitter.com/MDARCommish

MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills, and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources. For more information, visit MassDEP's website at www.mass.gov/dep and/or follow at twitter.com/massdep.