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Green Landscaping In New York City

In 2010, the fellows of the Design Trust for Public Space published a handbook for green landscaping in New York City’s parks. Developed with public spaces in mind, the guide is an invaluable resource for urban landscapers looking to reduce their environment impact and offers in-depth planning information aimed at mitigating the urban heat island effect, providing healthy habitats for native species and reducing the impact of climate change.

Although the technical guide aims at the creation of large-scale urban park spaces, the landscaping guide also offers some practical and cost-effective methods adaptable for green spaces large and small. From harvesting rainwater, using native plant species and enriching your soil with composting, home landscapers and gardeners can benefit from some of the best expert-developed practices currently being used to transform New York City’s public urban park spaces into environmentally friendly green oases.

Invest in rainwater harvesting or a drip irrigation system

Water management, including reducing the reliance on city water supplies, is a top priority for New York City Parks. For home landscapers looking to reduce their own monthly bill, harvesting rainwater can be an an easy, environmentally friendly way to make your garden more green and reduce water usage. Water management systems are available to fit every budget and every space, from old-fashioned rain barrel projects that rely on gravity to drip irrigation systems that water plants at their root to reduce the amount of water needed to keep plants healthy. For residents unsure of their options or seeking expert installation, NewEco Landscape Design and Builders is one local, eco-friendly company that can help homeowners explore their options and develop a system to best meet their needs and space.

Plant with native species to encourage local wildlife

New York City is home to over 2,000 native species that provide habitats and food for local wildlife, and city gardeners and horticulturalists regularly research which plants are best suited for particular parks and spaces based on a number of factors from soil quality to the amount of sun. For homeowners seeking to learn which plants thrive in shady areas or which are salt-resistant varieties, the Greenbelt Native Plant Initiative offers New York City residents a comprehensive list of native species suited for a range of city environments, from wildlife gardens to the growing number of green rooftops across New York City. The Greenbelt Plant Initiative also has an expert staff that can answer your questions or direct you to additional resources available to home gardeners and landscapers.

Start composting

In parks throughout the five boroughs, compost gathered from public composting projects is helping to provide nutrient-rich soil for plants to thrive. An easily recycled resource for landscaping projects of all sizes, composting is an environmentally friendly way to turn wasted food into a renewable green resource. For homeowners seeking to learn more about how they can compost, city-sponsored NYC Compost Project makes it easy to start your own composting project at home. The program, which is part or NYC WasteLess, offers discounted composting supplies, low-cost workshops to help train you to compost wisely, as well as assistance for first-time composters on how to create a healthy compost heap to turn wasted food into healthy soil for their home landscapes.

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Tamar Auber is a freelance writer whose work can be found on

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