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Thank you to our Strategic Sustainable Landscape Sponsors

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Special thank you to the PLNA PCH-SLC Strategic Sponsors for their support of this program. Without their help, services such as the PLNA Blogs would not be possible.



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Sustainable Landscape Resources

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 23, 2014

General References

Design/Consultant ReferencesEducation/KidsGovernment References Green Roof References Growers/Greenhouse/Garden Center ReferencesHighway/Infrastructure References Landscape Contractor ReferencesNon-Profit Organizations
  • Watershed Organizations - PA Organization of Watersheds and Rivers (POWR) -
  • See links from Octoraro website "Related Links" page
Plant Resources Rain Gardens/Bioswales/Stormwater
Riparian Buffers Sustainable Business Community/Programs Urban Greening/Air Quality ProgramsNotes:
Information provided above is for reference only and is not an endorsement of any product or company. The more you search, the more you will find on these subjects. this just scratches the surface. Thanks to Jim MacKenzie at Octoraro Native Plant Nursery for pulling these resources together

Tags:  bioswales  education  garden center  government  green roof  greenhouse  growers  highway  infrastructure  landscape contractor  non-profit organizations  plants  rain gardens  references  resources  riparian buffers  stormwater  sustainable  sustainable business community programs  urban greening 

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Workplace Benefits

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Atrium - Univ. of Michigan Med. Ctr.A number of studies (we have reviewed only a few here) report a variety of positive effects of plants both within the office environment and when visible to employees through windows to the outdoor landscape. Not only do plants improve employee morale, attitude and productivity, but they also reduce the reported incidence of employee illness and fatigue. A study by Professors Rachel and Steven Kaplan at the University of Michigan found that workers with a view of trees and flowers experienced less job pressure and were more satisfied with their jobs than those who had no outside view or only a view of buildings. The employees with views of plants also reported fewer headaches and illnesses.

Plants Improve Productivity, Attitudes and Morale

Similarly, a study of office conditions by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found that productivity, employee attitudes and perceptions were positively correlated with the amount of plants in the work place. The most negative employee response was found in an office setting with no plants, an improved employee response was found in a setting with a moderate number of plants, and the highest positive response was in an office with many plants. (Larson et al., 1998).

View with Plants Boosts Satisfaction

A European study of employee satisfaction looked at three variables connected with windows: The general illumination levels, sunlight penetration and the view through the window. The study found that sunlight penetration and a view of natural elements (trees, vegetation, plants and foliage) had a positive impact on employee job satisfaction and morale. The general illumination level provided by the window was found to have no impact (Leather, Pyrgas, Beale, & Lawrence, 1998).

Plants Reduce Illness and Fatique

As Kaplan and Kaplan found in their study of employees, Fjeld, Veiersted, Sandvik, Riise, and Levy (1998) from the University of Norway horticulture department found that plants in the workplace actually reduced reported symptoms of illness and fatigue 23 percent to 30 percent in a controlled study of office environments with and without plants.

Plants Reduce Absenteeism

These studies report a variety of positive effects of plants both within the office environment and when visible to employees through windows to the outdoor landscape. Not only do plants improve employee morale, attitude and productivity, but they also reduce the reported incidence of employee illness and fatigue. A 2005 survey by CCH Inc., a Riverwoods, Ill.-based provider of information services, found that unscheduled absences cost companies $660 per employee per year. A reduction in this cost by interior plantscaping can offset the cost of plant maintenance and lead to better morale in the workforce.

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Health Benefits

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Healing Garden Penn State Hershey Medical CenterRecent studies are demonstrating dramatic improvement in human performance and behavior when a landscaped environment is incorporated into hospitals, schools, workplaces and neighborhoods. Access to landscaped environments have been shown to reduce hospital stays for patients, improved the recovery of cancer patients, improve the performance of students in schools, and reduce sick leave usage among office workers.

There have been a number of studies that have related the presence of a landscaped environment to human health. Studies have found that the presence of plants, or quite simply the ability to see plants, can reduce pain sensation, lower blood pressure and help patients heal faster. Not only does the impact of plants translate to less human suffering and better health, but it also means fewer drugs and lower healthcare costs. Any design of a hospital or health care facility should incorporate the benefits of the landscaped environment on patient well-being.

Shorter Hospital Stays

Researcher Roger Ulrich (1984) found positive changes in medical outcomes resulting directly from people being able to see plants. Ulrich compared the hospital records of patients recovering from gall bladder surgery in a suburban Philadelphia hospital and found those with a view of a group of trees spent less time in the hospital than those looking out at a brick wall (7.96 days vs. 8.70 days). Equally important: the patients required fewer and less potent drugs to remain comfortable.

Translating that into economic terms, a University Of Michigan study found that average cost of the last day of stay for a hospital patient was $432 (Taheri et al, 2000) Assuming that the average reduction in hospital stays could be reduced by 0.74 days as in the Ulrich study and the annual number of hospital discharges was 34.9 million in the U.S. in 2006 (DeFrances, et al, 2008), that would equate to a potential savings of over $11 billion over a year to the U.S. healthcare system, insurers and individuals.

Breast Cancer Recovery Improved

A study of breast cancer patients used walks and other exposure to the natural environment for 120 minutes per week before and after breast cancer surgery to help women maintain and regain their mental and emotional strength (Cimprich & Ronis, 2003). The study found that the group having the exposure to the natural environment was significantly better than the control group, which had no such exposure, even after controlling for other variables such as age, education and other health problems.

Higher Bone Density

A University of Arkansas study found that women age 50 and older who gardened at least once a week had higher bone density than those who jogged, walked, swam or did aerobics. Lori Turner, assistant professor of health sciences at the university, says weight-bearing exercise is known to help women maintain healthy bones. According to Turner (2001), "being outside also gives bones an extra boost from the Vitamin D derived from sunlight.”

Healthier Hearts

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 30–60 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four times per week to promote cardiovascular fitness. The National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends that adults accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week. Moderate activities include pleasure walking, climbing stairs, gardening, yard work, moderate to heavy housework, dancing and home exercise. Regular physical activity reduces the risk of dying prematurely from cardiovascular disease. Gallup Polls put gardening as the No. 1 adult leisure-time activity.

Regular gardening, like other moderate physical activities, offers a list of short- and long-term health benefits. A some of the more important benefits:

Gardening as Exercise.

Short-Term Benefits
More energy and stamina, stronger bones and muscles, cope more easily with daily stress, be less preoccupied with your weight, relax and sleep more soundly.

Long-Term Benefits
Reduced risk of: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, obesity, adult-onset diabetes, osteoporosis, depression, colon-cancer. Increased likelihood of continued independent living in later life

Dutch researchers (Maas, Verheij, Groenewegen, de Vries, & Spreeuwenberg,, 2006) found a strong tie between general public health in an area and the amount of green space in that environment. Not only was there a strong correlation between greenery and the health of residents in an area, but the more urbanized an area, the greater the impact green space had on the general health of the population in that area.Finally, in an article summarizing what we know about the interaction between human health and the natural world, a team of health scientists from Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia wrote:

Natural areas can be seen as one of our most vital health resources. In the context of the growing worldwide mental illness burden of disease, contact with nature may offer an affordable, accessible and equitable choice in tackling the imminent epidemic, within both preventative and restorative public health strategies. (Maller et al., 2005)

 A summary of evidence supporting the assertion that contact with nature promotes health and well-being.

What the Research Demonstrates With Certainty
There are some known beneficial physiological effects that occur when humans encounter, observe or otherwise positively interact with animals, plants, landscapes or wilderness.
Natural environments foster recovery from mental fatigue and are restorative.
There are established methods of nature-based therapy (including wilderness, horticultural and animal-assisted therapy among others) that have success in healing patients who previously had not responded to treatment.
When given a choice, people prefer natural environments (particularly those with water features, large old trees, intact vegetation or minimal human influence) to urban ones, regardless of nationality or culture.

The majority of places that people consider favorite or restorative are natural places, and being in these places is recuperative.
People have a more positive outlook on life and higher life satisfaction when in proximity to nature (particularly in urban areas).
Exposure to natural environments enhances the ability to cope with and recover from stress, cope with subsequent stress and recover from illness and injury
Observing nature can restore concentration and improve productivity.
Having nature in close proximity, or just knowing it exists, is important to people regardless of whether they are regular "users” of it.
Note. A = Anecdotal; T = Theoretical; E = Empirical
Source. Maller et al. (2005).
PLNA recommends that the building designs for public and quasi-public buildings (hospitals, schools, government office buildings, assisted living facilities, etc.) incorporate adjacent landscaping as apart of the overall building design.

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Neighborhoods and Crime

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Chicago NeighborhoodMayor Richard Daley of Chicago poured millions into making Chicago the "Greenest City in America.” But his claim is more than hype. For years, Daley has invested in the positive impact of planting trees in neighborhoods, putting perennial gardens in industrial areas and changing out the "color” in planters and street median plantings three times a season.

Why Chicago Invests in Plants

Several years ago, PLNA president Gregg Robertson was on a tour of Chicago with the then just retired director of the city’s Bureau of Forestry, Robert Benjamin. The Chicago Bureau of Forestry has responsibility for all things green in Chicago. After an impressive tour of an industrial district where street trees, parking-lot median plantings and street-side flower beds were in flower-show condition, Robertson asked him how the city justified spending so much on the city’s green initiatives.

His reply, "Because it lowers crime, the test scores of kids in these neighborhoods go up, and the neighbors take ownership of the streets. In the long run, the city saves money, is a better place to live and attracts business and tourists.”

Green Landscapes Reduce Crime

The data bears out Benjamin’s assertion. A study by University of Illinois, Urbana (Kuo, Bacaicoa, & Sullivan, 1998), found that residents in of Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes felt safer if the grass was closely maintained and the tree density was increased. This was contrary to police opinions that increased tree density would provide hiding places for criminals and thus make residents feel less safe. In fact, improved landscaping made the residents feel safer.

In another Chicago study by Quo and Stanley (2001), there were dramatically fewer occurrences of crime against both people and property in apartment buildings surrounded by trees and greenery than in nearby identical apartments that were surrounded by barren land. In fact, compared with buildings that had little or no vegetation, buildings with high levels of greenery had 48 percent fewer property crimes and 56 percent fewer violent crimes. Even modest amounts of greenery were associated with lower crime rates. The greener the surroundings, the fewer the number of crimes that occurred.

Clues to Crimnals to Stay Out

Greenery lowers crime through several mechanisms. First, greenery helps people to relax and renew, reducing aggression. Second, green spaces bring people together outdoors, increasing surveillance and discouraging criminals. Third, the green and groomed appearance of an apartment building is a cue to criminals that owners and residents care about a property and watch over it and each other.

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