05.11.11Gregory Ray

The Birth of Native Landscapes in Masterplans

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What you see is a variety of native trees, shrubs, grasslands and wildflowers that provide a seamless transition from the developed areas into the adjacent natural open space.  Irrigation will only be applied to the trees and shrubs planted closest to homes and other structures, and isolated pockets of trees and shrubs on the upper slopes.  All other areas will be established through hydroseed application during the natural rainy season.  This method, while unconventional in terms of use in ornamental landscape, has been in use in revegetation and native habitat restoration projects with excellent results.  The selected plant species occur naturally in the local area and are well-adapted to the weather and soil conditions on site, therefore, they will be easier to establish and will require far less water and maintenance than ornamental plant varieties in traditional landscaping.

The benefits of design with native plants are numerous, most notably in terms of savings in water, reduction in use of chemicals to establish and maintain the landscape, and reduction in long-term environmental and maintenance costs. Native plants do not require significant quantities of water to become established. To thrive, the natural rain cycle is all that is necessary to sustain these plants.  Native plants also offer effective erosion control and act as natural slope stabilizers with there deep rooting characteristics.  In terms of aesthetics, native plants will provide a continuity from the man made landscape areas to the adjacent open space, while adding color, texture, and aromatic variation, the presence of native flowering plants will attract a variety of local pollinators and beneficial insects such as songbirds and butterflies, which are delightful for the residents aesthetically, and benefit the environment by maintaining the natural reproduction of the plants and controlling pest insects without the use of fertilizers, insecticides, and other chemical contaminants that pollute the environment.

This alternative approach to large-scale landscaping has several inherent short-term and long-term benefits for the environment, in addition to economic and social benefits that will be realized by those who embrace it.

Recap of benefits:

- It is a concept that is sustainable.

- Provides a better habitat for the native wildlife.

- Eliminates the costs of H2O to HOA’s and LMD’s.

- Eliminates the issue of slopes failing due to Landscape H2O .

- Eliminates the costs of maintenance to HOA’s and LMD’s.

- By bleeding the graded lines with native plants across slopes, the visual impact of development reduced.

Follow my Blog to see how this concept is implemented on real projects!

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Gregory Ray

What do you call a landscape architect who understands how to design memorable environments that are also constructible and highly functional spaces? The answer is Gregory Ray. Greg recently came to ValleyCrest from the home building industry where he led the landscape program for a major home builder. Prior to earning his degree as a landscape architect, Greg founded a landscape construction company to earn his way through college. With over 30 years of experience, Greg has found his passion in reintroducing an attractive native plant palette in drought prone communities throughout the Southwest and Western regions.


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  1. Sunday, 7:55 Richard Restuccia

    We are starting to get requests from customers to change some landscaped areas back to native landscape. I think this is starting to catch on.

  2. Monday, 10:06 Martha Golea

    That’s a powerful argument for native landscapes! Native is a hot topic here in Phoenix where people would rather see mostly East coast or tropical type plant material that is completely foreign and unsustainable in this environment. I’m so glad to know that Landscape Architects like yourself are encouraging the more sustainable route.
    Can’t wait to read about your implementation!

  3. [...] 1. Plant palette modification, which consists of replacing high water using landscapes with lower water use or drought tolerant / native plant material. [...]

  4. [...] and trees. While some of that attitude still prevails, landscapers are increasingly turning to drought-tolerant landscaping as a way to preserve resources and save [...]

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