UD Botanic Gardens launches sustainable landscape Web site
Rebecca Pineo has designed a sustainable landscape Web site for the University of Delaware Botanic Gardens.
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8:12 a.m., Feb. 3, 2009----Want to find out which native trees offer red fall foliage? Interested in learning how to support biodiversity in the garden? Or maybe you're intrigued by the idea of green roofs and rain barrels and want to know more.

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These are just a few of the topics explored on a sustainable landscape Web site launched last week by the University of Delaware Botanic Gardens. The site's content was written in large part by Rebecca Pineo, who is serving her second year-long internship with the Botanic Gardens.

A 24-year-old graduate of St. Mary's College of Maryland, she has applied to UD's Longwood Graduate Program in Public Horticulture for the 2009-2010 academic year.

“The term 'sustainable landscape' gets thrown around a lot but there's not always agreement on what it means,” said Pineo. “This Web site defines it as a stable and productive ecosystem that conserves the physical and biological processes occurring on that landscape.”

Most importantly, said Pineo, the Web site explains why sustainable landscaping is a good thing to do. Sustainable landscapes are promoted for maintaining soil integrity, hydrological function, plant and animal diversity, and contributing to human wellness.

The site is divided into five major categories - soils, hydrology, vegetation, human wellness and materials (which includes such topics as renewable landscape products and recycling leaves).

The soil section gives an overview of the basics, including how to do a soil test. But it also details the ins and outs of fertilizer usage, composting, soil compaction, and 10 full pages of info about integrated pest management.

Pineo started working on the website in September. She drew upon material already developed by Cooperative Extension specialists but also wrote some new content. As part of her research, she attended lectures, interviewed horticulture experts, and, in the process, discovered new interests.

“I visited a greenhouse that sells plants for green roofs and also toured a green roof at Sanford School,” said Pineo. “I got pretty excited about the environmental benefits of green roofs. They capture and manage storm water, reduce air pollution, insulate buildings so that they are cooler in summer and warmer in winter, and attract pollinators.”

She wrote a fact sheet on green roofs for the hydrology section of the site and is now a member of a UD committee that is studying the feasibility of adding a green roof to a campus laboratory.

“Rebecca did a great job of taking complex topics and material and presenting it in a reader-friendly format,” said Sue Barton, UD Cooperative Extension's specialist for ornamental horticulture, and Pineo's adviser on the project. “I think the sustainable landscape Web site will be a useful tool for Delaware gardeners who want to protect the natural environment.”

Article by Margo McDonough
Photo by Kathy Atkinson