Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Codman Academy Charter School in Dorchester, MA occupies a storefront in one of Boston’s low-income neighborhoods, sandwiched between units of affordable apartment housing. Their “playground” was a packed dirt yard abutting a parking lot. The school, which uses trauma-informed design to help at-risk students feel more grounded and safe, looked to the Community Outreach Group for Landscape Design (COGDesign) to create a more appropriate play space. Designer David McCoy of Geographia Landscape Design developed a beautiful plan for a sensory and environmental playground, and A Yard & A Half Landscaping Cooperative was lucky enough to be able to install it. Thanks to COGdesign and Codman Academy for the chance to participate in this exciting project!

empty dirt lot with low metal fence

Play area before construction.

landscape plan

Master Plan by David McCoy

poster from 2nd grade class saying "thank you for building our park!"

“Thank You” poster from second-graders at Codman Academy

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Turfstone Pavers in LawnPermea permeable driveway

Which of these photos shows permeable interlocking concrete paving? Both!

A concrete grid system (left) was once the only permeable option.  As municipalities have increased pressure on developers to minimize storm water runoff, a number of attractive permeable pavers like Permea (right) have come on the market.  These concrete pavers look like cobblestone, brick, or traditional pavers, but spacers allow water to flow between them, when filled with a fine, clean aggregate.

Much of the flooding in urban and suburban areas is the result of large impermeable areas of asphalt and rooftops.  Porous paving options can reduce runoff up to 100% when properly installed and maintained. Other benefits of permeable paving include:

  • Reduces construction costs for underground drainage systems
  • Qualifies for LEED credits for new construction
  • Easy to repair and maintain
  • Recharges groundwater rather than dumping to streams and waterways
  • Cleans water through biological filtration, removing chemicals and pollutants
  • Makes nearby streams safer for wildlife and human enjoyment
  • Eliminates puddles, standing water, and icy patches

This short ICPI video presents more detail on the benefits, performance, and applications of permeable pavers.


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This peastone driveway is dressed up by a granite cobble apron. We used a new product, a polymeric stone dust, in the joints of the cobbles. I’m very happy with how it is holding up after the winter, with no wash-out that we would see in such wide joints filled only with stone dust.


The whole drive is permeable, making it a great option for sites needing to offset the impervious area of an addition or new home construction. Permeable paving and use of natural, local, and recycled materials may qualify for LEED/Sustainable Sites credits. The traditional New England materials are also a perfect match for historic architectural styles.

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If you’re in the Boston area, you’ve already heard about the discovery at Faulkner Hospital of six trees infested with the Asian Longhorned Beetle.  Yesterday, our managers and crew leaders attended a briefing by the USDA to learn about how the problem is being addressed in the landcare industry.

What Can We Do?

Our crews will be monitoring the properties we serve throughout the Boston area, and will be contacting the USDA if we see signs of infestation.  In addition, we will be observing new regulations within the quarantine zone established by the USDA and Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).  We do not expect these rules to disrupt our customers’ experience of service.  We will be able to continue tree pruning and removal in the regulated area, but will need to chip all uninfested wood on-site before removal.  Trunks and stumps too large for chipping will require special disposal permits.  Landscapers cannot remove infested trees or wood.

What Can You Do?

Do not move wood or brush >1/2″ in diameter from your property.  Contact a trained landscaper for chipping and removal.  If you need firewood when camping this summer, buy from sources local to the campsite, rather then transporting firewood.

Monitor for signs of the beetles, which are generally active July-October.

  • Adult beetles – 3/4″-1 1/2″ long; long antennae with white bands;  shiny black body with bright white spots
  • Perfectly round 3/8″  exit holes (a little smaller than a dime) in host trees, often with sawdust below or divets in bark nearby
  • White sap oozing from exit holes

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This week, the Senate Committee on  Environment and Public Works considers  new “cap and trade” legislation, which would limit carbon emissions by industry, and allow the purchase of carbon credits to offset excess emissions.  This potentially places a new value on green space, above its acknowledged benefits for our physical and mental health.  In time, carbon-sequestering green space may have a value on the open market.

In an article in October’s Lawn & Landscape, scientists at NC State posit that an average homeowner could offset 40% of their annual automobile emissions just by maintaining a healthy, well-vegetated home landscape.  (Being a Tar Heel transplant to Boston, however, I can say that their assumptions about lot size and driving distance could both be scaled down for our region!)  According to their calculations, a lawn takes in three times more carbon than is released even by frequent mowing.

Homeowners can further reduce their carbon footprint (and maintenance costs) by reducing lawn areas and planting a higher proportion of trees, shrubs, and perennials.  These more naturalistic plantings require fewer landscaping visits — i.e. less driving — and no gas-powered machines for maintenance.

You can check out your footprint using one of several  carbon calculators.  If you find one that actually takes landscape into account, let us know!

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