Native plant communities are vital to wildlife, regional identity, water quality, and the health of the entire ecosystem, including human health. In terms of ecological services, the ideal landscape would consist of plants native to each specific site, sourced from local seedstock. While availability, budgets, schedules, functional and aesthetic requirements may require flexibility, we start each landscape project with this ideal in mind.
Preserve and Protect
In the pre-development phase, we consider existing and historical natural and cultural uses and preserve and protect native trees and tree canopy as much as possible. When natural materials must be removed from development sites, we seek ways to responsibly reuse them.
Start with Trees
Trees are large and live a long time, so our choice of trees will make a big impact for generations. We will plant only trees native to the Ozarks.
Thwart Invasive Species
We will not plant species known to be invasive. Where practical, we will employ best management practices to minimize invasive species on the properties we manage. In Northwest Arkansas, the worst offenders are Bush Honeysuckle, Bradford (Callery) Pear Trees, Privet, and Euonymus.
Grow Food for Sharing
Where practical, our properties will include edible plants in dedicated vegetable gardens and as part of the ornamental landscape. In addition to edible native plants, non-invasive food plants of all sorts are welcome.
In terms of ecological services, lawn performs only slightly better than pavement, and it requires chemical inputs, labor, fossil fuels, and noise to keep it maintained. We will not use lawn as a default, but only sparingly where it serves a clear function.
Conserve and Protect Water
With a preference for Ozark native plants, we will select drought-tolerant plants that minimize the need for irrigation after establishment. We will be mindful of erosion and sedimentation into our watershed, including ensuring that leaves and garden waste are prevented from washing into streets and streams.
Choose Landscape Materials Wisely
Use locally and regionally sourced compost and mulch to contribute to the local economy, reduce packaging, and reduce emissions in transport. Avoid landscape materials that degrade another landscape by their extraction, such as cypress mulch or irresponsibly harvested river gravel. Choose recycled materials or by-products when possible.
Thanks to Jennifer Ogle of UA Herbarium, Tanner Weeks and Jenny Burbidge of Ecological Design Group, Allison Quinlan of Flintlock Architecture & Landscape, Lissa Morrison of NWA Wild Ones, Colin Massey and Jane Maginot of University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Lee Porter of Ozark Green Roofs, and Jack and Pam Stewart of Audubon Arkansas for their guidance in drafting this pledge.