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This is potentially really exciting news, especially for those of us operating in the DC metro area! I did a design for a secure federal facility last year (can't name names) and their lack of sustainability was appalling. Case in point: the deer were ridiculous, actually milling around my car and preventing me from leaving the guard shack. The plantings included loads and loads of tasty annuals. How did they deal with the deer damage? By replanting ALL the annuals every 6 weeks or so. Sounds reasonable.

I know you hate leaf blowers, but you're going to have to change the space's end users' expectations and demands before blowers can be phased out of public spaces. I ran the grounds crew for a 20 acre research facility in California and if it wasn't immaculate every day, we would get downright unhinged people screaming that they could see organic detritus from their labs.

Absolutely love this news! Now I can show clients a sustainable garden that is beautiful and extremely well thought-out and executed. A person can know a standard has been set by the 31 federal agencies and 13 advisors!!

Awesome news. I imagine the degree of compliance will vary from site to site. And that change will not happen overnight. So I think your question about enforcement is a good one.

How fantastic! I think enforcement is an excellent question. I'm also curious as to where they're planning on sourcing their plants, particularly the natives. I imagine that will vary from eco-region to eco-region, but it's so difficult to find good sources of the majority of natives, I'm curious as to how they'll manage. (I have an image of someone from the Pentagon strolling into a tiny mom 'n pop nursery and saying "We need eighteen thousand prairie dropseed, eleven hundred white baneberry, five thousand orange milkwort...")

This is wonderful, and so comprehensive. Will it be perfect and practical? Probably not -- at least not at first -- but at least it's a fantastic starting point, and we will hopefully see a trickle-down to state then city levels.

Is this expected to create jobs too?

I assume that most of the millions of acres owned or maintained by the Feds includes vast tracks of national forest and other wild areas in the West. This may temper how much land the "landscape" guidelines affect. Also, I doubt there will be any enforcement per se since these are guidelines and not rules/policies.

That said, it's good to see movement in this direction.

@ Elizabeth : there are approx. 190 million acres of federal forest land (just forest, this is not counting other types of federal land). The # mentioned above is very likely landscaped acreage, or acreage that is not left to its own devices and must be maintained/managed to some degree for the sake of aesthetics, safety/health, or education/history.

This looks like a great will be interesting if it just sits around or actually changes the way federal landscapes are ran. Hopefully it will at least encourage more sustainable practices.

It's the government it won't work.


Finally, something exciting and more tangible from any gov't, to help drive some in the LA / nursery field who keep making excuses for the same-old!

But I agree with others that it could take some time to catch-up on supplies and qtys. As well as that sticky issue of one species of a huge range, requiring a local, ecoregional ecotype or provenance. "I don't want no Denver Saltbush in my Abq or El Paso reveg project..."

Will re-read this one! Thx for posting.

Yep, Troll, if it's government it won't work--just like the federal highway system and Seal Team Six. Now if they could just figure out how to get the government to adopt the lassez-faire system that allows the private sector to be so sustainable.....

Keep on Trollin'--I was ready for a laugh :-)

I see another unfunded mandate. Think of all the post offices. Places that lease out some space to a minute division of the federal government. Who is responsible for enforcing this? Are they going to tell each federal agency to tell each section to "take care of it"? It only makes sense for big places that actually have landscaping, not your rural post office where the post master or the cub scouts plant some petunias in red white and blue around the flag pole.

One thing to keep in mind is that all the landscape maintenance professionals who already maintain these federal properties are likely very familiar with more sustainable landscape practices already. It won't be so hard for them to change when the boss can't say this is what we have always used and always done.

And I might add many of them will likely welcome the new guidelines with open arms.

I'm going to reply to other comments first.

Dave, I have heard Stories about a certain secure facility and its deer, who, if you are taking a relaxing walk after dinner, will practically mug you if you haven't brought snacks for them.

Urusla, I adore your image! Of course we know that such an contract would have to be initiated earlier in the year before the planting could be done, given those amounts.

Tibs says, Look at all the Post Offices. The Eastside Santa Cruz post office was rather deedy, and one day, I talked to the Postmaster, offering to bring in some lavendar or something of that nature, but the landlord had been approached about improving the landacaping. Never responded, and I couldn't even donate with out the landlord's agreement. Feh. There may be other issues of this sort with leased (urban?) grounds.

I agree with many who've said, this might take a while, but it IS a step in the right direction. Yes, it IS unfunded and likely enforced
only casually, but lots of little drops turn a mill wheel.

As far as English Ivy and a few others, one could perhaps use the fact that they can harbor rats, and therefore should be discouraged, in the name of public safety, historic or no, unless recreating the aftermath of villages with bubonic/pneumonic plague is truly desired.

I am pleased to read your comments and find the Federal document itself. I teach at the Landscape Institute, Boston Architectural College, formerly of Radcliffe College. My courses are in plant identification and landscape inventory---attempts to De-emphasize the "design" and open the eyes to first "observe", existing plants, soils, bedrock and glacial geology, water movement. To this end I offer as texts PDF books on these subjects I've written over many years, focused on NE USA water, landforms and plant species of all origins. Native plants may be difficult to re-establish when exotic woody invasives have taken over, but that is exactly the emphasis on a site where I am consulting: hazardous soils will be removed and natural revegetation promoted, the Federal effort will undoubtedly help in this process. It is nice to read independent voices speaking up, as well. Thanks.

41 million acres of land is a lot to own - maybe the government should give a it away

@ Gordon : Give it to whom ? It is owned by the people of the the United States now. These are historical properties & public buildings, not random tracts of land.

Ha, so many historic plants are invasive plants. Kudzu, privet, ivy......


Gardening is definitely ejsubctive, and I find that my opinions sometimes even counteract one another, putting me right into gardening hypocrisy. For example, I enjoy some whimsy in the yard, as long as it doesn't cross the line into what I would consider tacky (Mickey Mouse would definitely cross that line). I might admire perfect yards, but I would never want one. I get a bit of an attitude about yards so groomed they don't look natural, or so perfectly healthy one immediately thinks of wasteful watering or use of pesticides or fertilizers. But that doesn't mean I can't admire the beauty of a flower, the artistic skill in the gardener's plant selection or landscape design, or the fact that there isn't a weed in sight.I do feel a sense of longing when gardeners talk about a scent or flower that reminds them of their mom, dad, or grandparent gardening. My parents didn't garden when I was growing up, but they do some now, with their new spouses. I never learned from another how to do all this. And as an organic gardener, I'm pretty much on my own there, too. We might talk a bit about plants, but there's a divide, too. I'm all organic, and they're... not. They also aren't Internet people -- do they read my blog? Nope. So while we are close in other ways, gardening actually isn't a regular part of our conversations. But I feel glad that one day my kids are going to have their memories of being in the garden with their mom, and hopefully a bit of me rubs off on them.FYI, I do have dirt under my nails much of the time. But that's mainly because the dogs steal and chew up my gloves. Oh, and I do have a tattoo. Two actually. They're both tasteful and all me. One day I'll share a pic!

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