Sustainable Landscaping Initiatives at Massasoit Community College
Massasoit has converted several traditional gardens to sustainable gardens with non-invasive plants native to New England. Among its numerous native gardens are a 17,700 square foot wildflower meadow, two bioswales, and a rain garden. The college has also converted several large expanses of lawn to no-mow areas. These landscaping efforts help to conserve water, mitigate storm water run-off, increase wildlife habitat, and reduce the use of chemical fertilizers and fossil fuels.
Massasoit’s edible community garden, situated between two classroom buildings, grows a wide variety of vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees. The garden helps to demonstrate the potential for urban gardening, engage the campus community, and foster an appreciation for growing one’s own food.
Learn more about our sustainable landscaping efforts from the National Wildlife Federation’s Campus Ecology project.
Tour the Brockton campus gardens by following our new Self-Guided Tour, developed by Dr. Andrew Oguma.
Why sustainable landscaping?
Sustainability is an important, yet misunderstood, concept. Many people think being “green” means driving a hybrid car and recycling, but what about our landscapes? Our love of tidy lawns results in pollution as well as a depletion of important natural resources and wildlife habitat.
Sustainable landscaping uses environmentally responsible landscaping practices that respect and preserve the functioning of ecosystems. In practice, sustainable landscaping reduces the size of lawns, uses native and edible plants, uses fewer resources and synthetic chemicals, and results in less time and energy required for maintenance. Our goal isn’t just sustainability, but also usefulness to humans, wildlife, and ecosystems.
Consider a forest. Trees capture the sun’s energy, and the energy then passes through the food chain. The leaves that fall on the forest floor are recycled, and the nutrients are passed on to other organisms. The forest is diverse, and each species plays a role in the functioning of the ecosystem.
Now consider a lawn. While the lawn photosynthesizes, the amount of energy available to other organisms is tiny compared to natural ecosystems. Plant “waste” – like leaves and cut grass – is hauled away, leaving the lawn deprived of nutrients, which then must be replaced by adding fertilizer. And most lawns are composed of just a couple of species; nature fights monocultures, so pesticides are applied to keep out the invaders.
Massasoit’s commitment to Sustainable Landscaping has resulted in:
- Seven Native Gardens
- Two Edible Gardens
- Three Rain Gardens
- A 35,000 square foot Wildflower Meadow
- Two “No Mow” Areas
1. Rethink Lawns: Lawn maintenance uses water, fertilizers, and pesticides; results in water and air pollution; contributes to climate change; and reduces available habitat. Therefore, rethinking lawns can contribute to sustainability. For example: Reduce lawn size. Maintain lawns more sustainably. Mow higher to shade out weeds. Mulch clippings on the lawn instead of bagging to keep …
Americans’ love affair with lawns has consequences. The United States has over 63,000 square miles of lawn, an area over three times larger than any single irrigated crop (there’s a map as well). Each week, 54 million homeowners mow their lawn, producing pollution and using fossil fuels. Lawns also require water and fertilizer, and many …