Licensed landscape horticulturist and business owner Brooke Inzerella admits he could be doing more when it comes to sustainability, but he’s ready to make the commitment.
Like a lot of you reading this, I am grateful for the excitement and rush of activity that spring brings. Although we did well last year and were able to stay productive and steady despite the pandemic, I did end 2020 with a nagging feeling that as the owner/operator of a landscape + pool company, I could and should be doing more in the area of sustainability.
One key way to achieve this is through the use of native plants. As the architects and designers of outdoor environments, we can become the catalysts for increasing interest and usage of native plants for the overall health and benefit of our ecosystems. I knew the best way to really implement this type of change was first to identify a few doable, actionable items for me and my team. I’m aware there are challenges with using native plants in our projects: supply is often weak and our clients usually know what they want and it’s not necessarily natives—it’s generally something they’ve seen on Pinterest or in their own neighborhood. Rarely is it a native Fringe Tree. That said, we’re going to take small baby steps and move forward.
Do the Research
First, I am recommitting to research and learning. We all have a general understanding of the benefits of native plants: they’re adapted to the local environment, they require less water, pesticides and fertilizers. We know they provide a vital habitat for birds and many other species of wildlife that rely on each other to thrive—and survive. But I admit there is so much more I need to learn to be able to educate our clients with confidence, and get them excited about including some native plants in their own green spaces. This year, I’m committing to more research, learning and overall networking with native plants experts—and there are lots of them!
Find the Resources
• The National Audubon Society has a Native Plants Database on their website. You can type in your client’s zip code, and it will give you a detailed listing of the natives for your area, photographs of the plant, as well as the wildlife it’s known to attract. It also includes a directory of other local and regional resources, as well as nurseries offering native plants.
• We have a great local native plants society in Louisiana (greauxnative.org), that is managed by a group of dedicated and passionate volunteers whose only mission is to promote a healthy environment through the adoption of native plants and landscapes. You likely have one in your area, too, and they are generally the nicest people and willing to teach you everything you need to know.
Secondly, I vow to continue what we started and grow upon the momentum. Last year, we implemented more natives than ever. So, this actionable item is to ALWAYS consider implementing some native plants into our designs. I’ll be the first to admit that a shift like this will not be easy. But at press time, we have already designed our first native butterfly garden of the year, and its success makes it so worthwhile.