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TREES & Plants

Sustainable large landscapes

Retrofitting Large Landscapes for Sustainability manualAttractive shrubs and perennials can mask unsightly views in the landscape.


The green spaces of homeowners associations, office campuses, industrial parks, schools, park districts and other large properties are expensive and complex to maintain. These large landscapes also can make a real difference in the health of people and ecosystems.
Sustainable landscaping—changing practices to reduce these landscapes’ adverse impacts on the environment and make them easier to care for—can be beneficial to property owners, the surrounding community and the planet.

“Retrofitting Large Landscapes for Sustainability” is The Morton Arboretum’s online handbook for property owners, managers, and residents. The handbook is based on the idea that all parts of the landscape are interconnected and any change—even a small one—can improve the entire property, reduce its management budget, and help the environment at large. 

It addresses such topics as landscaping around ponds to reduce erosion and goose problems; choosing tree species that are pest-resistant and resilient; reducing lawn area for lower mowing costs; changing display plantings to perennials and native plants that require less upkeep; and enlisting residents’ and tenants’ support for sustainable landscaping changes.

The document was developed by The Morton Arboretum’s Community Trees Program with the help of a large advisory committee of property managers, residents and board members of community associations, landscape architects, landscape contractors, government agencies, nonprofits, and other partners. A full list of the committee can be found in the Acknowledgements section of the handbook. The work was funded by the US Forest Service.

The 96-page handbook can be downloaded in its entirety, but each of the seven chapters, addressing a particular aspect of design and maintenance of large landscapes, is self-contained and also can be downloaded separately.

Retrofitting Large Landscapes for Sustainability

Intro and Credits

Chapter1: Property Manage

Chapter 2: Design

Chapter 3: Ponds

Chapter 4: Turf

Chapter 5: Trees

Chapter 6: Herbaceous

Chapter 7: Wildlife