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April 2009 Letters






Above & Below: "Highway Art for Interstate 5" (LASN Feb.) in Southern California and the highway artwork of Scott System, Inc. on the Pima Freeway in Scottsdale, Ariz.





Re the "Highway Art for Interstate 5" feature in Feb. LASN

I, too, am looking forward to the coming year when the stimulus package kicks in and the recession eases away. I'm glad to see that your magazine is picking up on and helping to generate interest in the large-scale public art on sound and retaining walls along heavily traveled highways--something that we do a lot of ourselves. The feature about the Interstate 5/SR-54 Project will help to make this type of art more prevalent and keep us all in business. I attached a picture of our work on the Pima Freeway in Scottsdale, Ariz. that I thought you would enjoy. Thanks!

Buck Scott
Owner
Scott System, Inc.
Denver, Colorado






Re the news item "The Return of Native Grasses to Hawaii" in the March issue and online at www.landscapeonline.com/research/article/11696.

Note: LASN had contacted Christopher Dacus, RLA, with Hawaii DOT about his work with the University of Hawai'i at Manoa plant specialists to select and plant native groundcovers along bare areas of the state roadways, instead of the low-cost, effective, and decidedly nonnative, Bermudagrass.

Chris Dacus is to be congratulated for pioneering efforts to bring the civil engineering dominated Hawaii DOT into the 21st century of biotechnology and sustainability. He has also taken the lead in the statewide industry effort to be proactive with invasive species control.

Tropical conditions make rights of way maintenance labor intensive, and invasive grasses and woody shrubs, with no winter to slow them down, quickly make inroads into any plantings deliberately introduced. Much will depend on the research into good weed control methods if these native grasses and sedges are to be successful.

Hawaii’s environment, compared to the rest of the U.S., is one of the most vulnerable to invasive plants, and one of the richest in unique species.

Our lowland areas, where most urban and rural built-up environments exist, are nearly devoid of native species. Chris and the DOT are making experimental steps to begin to re-establish low land natives. Dryland ecosystems in Kona on the big island are also being carefully studied by NGO and resort-sponsored groups, with an eye to protecting and expanding them.

The superficial beauty of the exotic tropical species everyone wants to see have long eclipsed the subtle beauty and sustainable forms of Hawaii’s native flora. The landscape industry in Hawaii is actively working to restore knowledge, appreciation, and use of native plants in the built environment. Chris Dacus is one of our leaders.

Boyd Boyd
Vice President
Akahi Services, Inc.
Pearl City, Hawaii






Re "ASLA Response to Nat'l Mall Provision Drop" www.landscapeonline.com/research/article/11655

You comments that it's a shame the efforts to rehabilitate the National Mall have now been removed from the stimulus bill due to political wrangling makes me think we have some serious issues in our profession. If we cannot make the case for the restoration of the National Mall in spite of its near derelict conditions, then we need to seriously consider the clout we have as a profession and what anyone understands us to be. We need to challenge the thinking of who we are and what we do. Many think of us as “landscapers” something that serves architects and engineers very well. Our numbers are few in comparison to these other professions and we certainly do not command the respect we deserve for our efforts in making outdoor places for people. We applaud ourselves for our green thinking and being environmentally conscious and yet we are at the tail end of implementing and effecting change with these technologies because they have now become elements of buildings or engineering strategies. I challenge our professional leadership to develop strategies that will increase our numbers and visibility otherwise we risk eventually becoming insignificant or a division of another professional discipline.

Rene Torres
Design Director
GroupMelvinDesign
Woodbury, NJ






Terry Smith of Goshen, Ohio wrote re the February Stewardship article, "Heritage Garden Showcases Ohio's Natural History" www.landscapeonline.com/research/article/11617:

I worked on this project hands on for over a year. What a wonderful team of pros! Too bad Rick Stanforth isn’t still giving the tours at the residence. His and Julie Stone’s knowledge of the grounds and pleasant demeanor with the guests were a pleasure to have witnessed.






Re "Survey Shows LAs Replacing Grass to Reduce Maintenance Time, Utility Costs" www.landscapeonline.com/research/article/11772:

I’m curious to know how turning lawn into gardening space reduces maintenance costs? From my experience, gardens are much more time consuming to maintain than lawns, even more so than planter beds. Mowing and weed eating lawns is quick, with very little labor in comparison to the time intensive weeding, spraying, trimming and clean-up work needed for beds and gardens.

Also, placing either planter beds or gardening areas near lawns creates extra time to maintain the lawn. At a minimum it creates additional boarder zones for the weedeater. It may create an obstacle to inhibit mowing in certain areas, or prevent it all together.

As for the value it creates, that is dubious, too. For it to add value to a home, the new buyers would have to be gardeners. The vast majority of people in subdivisions are not gardeners and the extra work of a garden area to maintain would not appeal to them. Secondly, for the garden area to add value to a home it would have to be done in an aesthetically pleasing way. Too many garden areas/bed are put in without thought to how they affect the overall visual landscaping appeal. Most garden areas in urban areas detract from that visual appeal.

Anyways, the article seems based a little more on idealism and political correctness than on reality. I think gardening is a great idea, but I just don’t see the facts supporting what the article touts.
Also, please don’t try using Bermudagrass clippings as a weed suppressant in your garden! If you’ve got good clean Fescue, go for it, but only if you’re sure your lawn isn’t mixed.

John Armstrong
Owner/Operator
Bentonville, Ariz.





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