Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2017 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Form, Function, and the Design of Sustainable Landscapes
Schwartz, Stu

Abstract: In the built environment, standard specifications for grading and landscaping produce an anthropogenic landscape in which routine and inadvertent compaction constrain vegetation success and amplifies stormwater runoff, by limiting rooting depths, infiltration, and the water holding capacity of disturbed soil profiles. Lost environmental services can be purposefully restored by sustainable grading practices that incorporate urban soil husbandry into mass grading and site preparation. We compare the results from standard and sustainable landscaping practices, from three "authentic" disturbed graded landscapes, using full-scale grading equipment and standard contractor means and methods. Redefining standard specifications and acceptance criteria for sustainable land transformation can reliably restore superior sustainable landscapes and the hydrologic and environemntal services they support.