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GreenScapes: Environmentally Beneficial Landscaping


View and print this brochure (8 pp, 757K, about PDF)

May 2005

What Is Green Scapes?

Roads and highways, golf courses and ski resorts, commercial buildings and industrial sites—the widespread use of economically and environmentally costly landscaping is everywhere. By simply hanging these landscapes to “GreenScapes,” you can save money and prevent pollution.

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) GreenScapes program provides cost-efficient and environmentally friendly solutions for large-scale landscaping. Designed to help preserve natural resources and prevent waste and pollution, GreenScapes encourages companies, government agencies, and other entities to make more holistic decisions regarding their practices and purchases and their associated impacts on land, water, air, and energy use. By focusing on the “4 Rs”—reduce, reuse, recycle, and rebuy—you can help improve both your bottom line and the environment.

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Why Is GreenScaping Important?

Brochure Cover

Think about some of the large-scale land uses in the United States—shopping and retail centers; recreational facilities such as golf courses, ski resorts, amusement parks, public gardens; roads and highways; abandoned industrial sites such as brownfields; college and university campuses; and military installations. Think about the millions of tons of materials that are hauled away, buried, or burned each day from landscaping and groundskeeping operations—trees, shrubs, brush, lumber, asphalt, and concrete, just to name a few. Also, consider the millions of gallons of water, pesticides, fuels, and oils used each and every day in landscaping. The costs of these materials—both economic and environmental—can be easily reduced or eliminated with updated landscaping methods.

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What Can You Do?

Understanding the economic and environmental benefits of saving resources and preventing waste and pollution is key to bringing positive changes to your operations and surroundings. These changes can be made gradually. Set a combination of short- and long-term goals—activities that can be performed in a few weeks paired with actions that can be implemented later for future gains. Even small improvements can create a huge ripple-effect not only on your site, but throughout your industry and the environment. Focus on the 4 Rs:

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Reducing the production of waste is the first and most important step towards efficient materials use. When planning a new landscape design or updating a current one, avoid products that require frequent replacement or regular maintenance to reduce future waste. Durable products will long outlast those of lesser quality, reducing future waste generation and the need to purchase new or replacement products. Try some of the following waste reduction suggestions:

Filter Berm

This filter berm made from compost demonstrates how well the organic material helps retain runoff in comparison to a typical silt fence in the lower portion of the photo.

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Truck spreading compost

Compost – An On-Par Alternative. The soil on the North Shore Country Club (Glenview, Illinois) golf course had elevated sodium levels—too high to maintain quality turf. Standard procedure called for the installation of a well to solve this problem, but that solution came with a quarter million dollar price tag. With a little research, North Shore found compost to be the economical alternative to enhance the quality of its soil.


Reuse serves as another key component to environmentally beneficial landscaping. Many items can be reused effectively without adding much time or energy. Try some of the following reuse tips:

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Plastic bedding trays and plant containers

A “Growing” Plastics Recycling Business. Agri-Plas, Inc., an agricultural plastic recycler in Oregon, processes tons of discarded plastics from the agricultural and nursery industries each year. The company collects trays, pots, and greenhouse films from about 100 nearby nurseries and picks up baling twine and plastic agricultural chemical containers from local farmers and growers. Agri-Plas provides the recovered plastic to end users that make new products for the nursery and automotive industries.

Creating products from recycled materials saves energy and resources, and can often generate revenue. Try some of the following recycling suggestions:

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Rebuying means re-thinking your purchasing habits. Look for products that meet your needs but have a better environmental profile than your current product purchases. Consider biobased, recycled content, and other environmentally preferable aspects in your purchasing decisions. Recycled products, for example, are often more durable than those made with virgin materials, saving money and raw materials over time. Rebuying is key to sustaining recycling markets, and it aids in the development of technology that conserves resources and prevents waste. You can work with your managers, clients, suppliers, and vendors to identify and establish specifications to purchase various environmentally preferable products. Try these rebuy tips:

Walking Path

This walking path at the Earvin “Magic” Johnson Recreation Area in Los Angeles County is made from rubberized asphalt, which is more resilient than traditional asphalt.


Reference to any specific commercial products, processes, companies, or services by trade name, trademark, manufacturer or otherwise, does not constitute or imply endorsement or recommendation by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

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