Durango Telegraph - Natural landscaping 101
Natural landscaping 101

The track record for natural and chemical-free parks is improving all over the country. Among the most notable efforts was Harvard University’s commitment in 2009 to manage its entire 80-acre campus with organic land management strategies. The experiment is not only promising healthier outdoor spaces at Harvard it is saving tens of thousands of dollars a year.

Harvard’s path to chemical freedom started with a one-acre test plot. During a multi-year study, the plot was compared with a conventionally managed area. Root measurements were taken bi-weekly, and in the end the organic plot demonstrated greater vitality of the turf and trees, higher soil nutrition and a reduced need for irrigation.

Nearly 30 acres of the Harvard campus are now being managed naturally, and the university has committed to phasing over the entire campus in coming years. A recent article in the New York Times noted that Harvard expects the new approach to save two million gallons of water per year, cut $10,000 in chemical fertilizer costs and save $35,000 in waste disposal of organics that are now being composted.

– Will Sands