Why sustainable landscaping discussion is need of the hour

Takeaways from the 2020 Outside Collab

Dr. Patrick Bohlen talks to Chris Hite about sustainable landscaping

With the environment crisis brewing, any discussion about sustainable landscaping is to be welcomed. It’s especially important when it brings together cross-sectional view from the landscaping industry. This is why Outside2020 was a revelatory experience with rich diversity in the speakers, and panel discussions. If you missed the discussion, here are some quick takeaways from the landscaping supplies team that attended the event.

The event opened with a thought provoking discussion on real-life application of sustainability principles. Chris Hite of DIX-HITE Partners explained how she introduced better alternatives for projects across Florida. Particularly, the Hamlin project stood out as an example of community development with lower environmental footprint, and distinctive look and feel.

Dr. Patrick Bohlen from the University of Central Florida explained his perspective on how communities can lower their carbon footprint. He underscored the need to

  • Evaluate the site for regional species to measure biodiversity
  • Understand how biodiversity helps water conservation efforts

This first panel was followed by an opening keynote from Cherrylake’s President, Timothee Sallin, who stressed on the need of more engagement initiatives like Outside Collab.

The second panel was probably most interesting from the practical application of sustainability. Hearing actual landscapers discuss their challenges with sustainability offered a unique perspective.

Brian Canin, Pierce Jones, Ernie Cox, and Richard Levey

Themes discussed at the panel as well as breakout chats:

  • Zero irrigation system
  • How housing codes impact sustainability
  • Need for developer education around native trees

The panel also brought up a key issue about access and availability of native trees for landscaping.

The next session was a wonderful narrative by naturalist and NY Times author Jeff VanderMeer. His lyrical storytelling of the need for biodiversity underscored what residents and communities can do to encourage harmonious living.

Particularly, Jeff’s story of how native landscapes get a push-back due to accepted aesthetics was interesting. It was great that the story ended on happy note with consensus building tips for native landscaping.

The event ended with a government panel that brought in the political narrative for reforms and what can be done at the policy level. From panels to side discussions, Outside Collab was well received and the enthusiastic response to it just highlights the vaccum it’s attempting to fill. Going forward we need more events such as this that bring landscapers, architects, and the policymakers on the same platform to discuss sustainability. It’s a dialogue worth continuing, isn’t it?

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