Sustainable Lawns for Urban Parks

One morning in late August, Toby Wolf took a walk around Boston Common with plant and soil scientist Normand Helie. With Boston undergoing extreme drought and the Common’s lawns a patchwork of brown and green, they discussed the ways that grass adapts to changes in its environment and some ways that responsive maintenance can support rather than override those adaptations.

Toby's walk with Norm resulted in a short article that outlines six sustainable practices that can help urban lawns adapt to drought. Many thanks to Norm for his insights, and to the Friends of the Public Garden for publishing the article in their newsletter and their blog.

ELA/Wellesley Symposium on Large Landscapes

On January 13, the Ecological Landscape Alliance and Wellesley College will present “Large Scale Landscapes: Exploring Ecological Options.” During the day-long symposium, speakers representing colleges and universities, public gardens, conservation organizations, and public-private partnerships will explore innovations in the design and management of new and historic landscapes whose scale presents special challenges and opportunities.

Wolf Landscape Architecture is proud to be a sponsor of this important and timely event.

Continuity and Innovation at the Public Garden

Phase 3

Work is complete on the third phase of the renovation of the Boylston Street Border in Boston's Public Garden. Three quarters of the border's 900-foot length now benefits from improved drainage, reinvigorated plantings, and inviting places to sit.

The project's phased implementation has allowed our team to improve each year on the work that came before. This year we fine-tuned the planting palette, adjusted the soil mix, revised the transplant specifications, improved the way benches are installed, and eased curb installation by providing the granite quarry with full-size templates. These changes helped achieve an improved outcome at no additional cost.

Construction of Phase 4 will begin in September 2016. To see project updates, to become a member, or to learn how to sponsor a bench or a tree, please visit the Friends of the Public Garden online.

Green Infrastructure at SCUP North Atlantic

On April 13, Toby Wolf will join Cornell's University Planner Leslie Schill, University Landscape Architect David Cutter, and lecturer Michele Palmer to present Cornell's green infrastructure initiatives at the North Atlantic Regional Conference of the Society for College and University Planning.

We hope you'll join us in Providence for our panel "Site, Campus, Watershed: Integrating Green Infrastructure in Sustainability Planning." Learn more about SCUP and its regional conference here.

laf publishes cornell bioswale study

A new study published by the Landscape Architecture Foundation affirms key environmental and educational impacts of the Bioswale at Cornell Plantations in Ithaca, New York.

Photo by Mujahid Powell

Photo by Mujahid Powell

Built in concert with the Nevin Welcome Center and located at its visitor parking lot, the Bioswale greets visitors to Cornell's botanical garden with a bold display of plants—and it soaks up stormwater.  Unlike conventional landscapes, which put runoff into drains and pipes, high-performance landscapes like the Bioswale help to restore natural water cycles using plants and soils.  They cleanse and cool the runoff that flows from roofs and pavement, recharging local aquifers and protecting natural waterways from pollution, flooding, and erosion.

In the LAF study, Cornell researchers Michele Palmer and Mujahid Powell found that the bioswale is reducing runoff by 31% (78,000 gallons annually), cutting peak flows in major storms by 81%, improving soil health, increasing biodiversity, and galvanizing support for green infrastructure among the fifty thousand people who visit Cornell Plantations each year.

Toby Wolf authored the Botanical Garden's master plan and served as landscape architect for the Welcome Center and Bioswale while a Senior Associate at Halvorson Design Partnership, working in collaboration with landscape designer Irene Lekstutis, architects Baird Sampson Neuert, and civil engineers TG Miller. 

The Welcome Center and the Bioswale have earned LEED Gold certification, and the Bioswale has been recognized by the Society for College and University Planning with its Honor Award for Excellence in Landscape Architecture. Dr. Christopher Dunn, the E. N. Wilds director of Cornell Plantations, has called the Bioswale "one of the premier gardens of its kind, inspiring other botanic gardens to create similar landscapes."  

Find out more about the LAF study here, and about Cornell Plantations' Bioswale here.

Photo by Chris Kitchen

Photo by Chris Kitchen

Greening the Garden

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The second phase of our renovation of the Boylston Street Border in Boston's Public Garden is nearly complete. Working with landscape architect Deb Howe, arborist Norm Helie, and civil engineer John Cusack, we have moved and planted trees and shrubs, improved drainage, and made space for two more benches.  In the weeks ahead we'll add more perennials and bulbs, and the last tree will be planted early next spring.  

The multi-year rejuvenation of the entire 900 foot length of the the Border is a project of the Friends of the Public Garden, who have posted a project update here. The Friends work in partnership with Boston's Parks Department to care for the Garden, the Common, and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, and membership is open to all.