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Creating a Native Landscape

Assess site conditions

For any potential project, understanding the site’s natural features

is imperative to help determine if the project goals can feasibly be

achieved. Site conditions also dictate species likely to thrive there.

Before selecting plant species, be sure to have a solid understanding

of your site’s soils, hydrology, topography, and solar exposure.

When creating a native landscape, there are additional existing

conditions that need to be understood during the project planning

stage, including the vegetation already present on the site,

adjacent land uses and conditions, sensitive natural resources, and

access to the site.


Vegetative cover and the site’s seed bank, which includes seed

dropped from existing vegetation and any sub-surface dormant

seed, can have a significant impact on a native landscape’s

success. Understanding the existing vegetation, including the

presence of invasive species and the previous land use, will help

define site preparation needs. Existing species on a site also

often reveal clues about soil fertility and hydrologic conditions.

This information can be used to determine what other species

will perform well after installation. Cardno can assist with site

assessment and invasive species control.

Adjacent land uses and conditions

Landscapes do not necessarily respect property boundaries.

Vegetative cover on adjacent sites can have a significant impact

on a native landscape’s success. Poorly managed adjacent

properties can negatively impact the success of a site’s

management plan. If it is possible, managing unwanted plants

on adjacent sites will help with long-term site establishment

and maintenance. In addition, understanding adjacent land uses

will help ensure that the plant species selected will be able to

withstand any externalities.

Sensitive natural and cultural resources

It is also important to determine whether a site has any sensitive

natural resources, such as wetlands, streams, or other water

sources; any RTE species and their habitats; or historically

or culturally significant resources. Protecting natural and

cultural resources on a site can significantly affect planning,

design, construction, management, and overall project costs.

Understanding whether there may be permitting and compliance

requirements as a result of these site attributes is critical to a

successful project.

Site access

Some sites are in remote locations or are difficult to reach. Design

your project with any such limitations in mind, and make sure that

appropriate equipment can be used during both installation and

maintenance. Keep in mind that specialized equipment will likely be

required for maintaining larger-scale wetland or aquatic projects.

Cardno can perform a detailed site assessment and create custom

recommendations for your project.