Happy Earth Day!

Bob Hursthouse | Hursthouse Landscape Architects

April 15, 2022

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The global pandemic has not been kind to us or to the Earth, our home. As we move through this time, we at NextHaus Alliance thought it appropriate to think about the positive things we can do. Here are three suggestions for Earth Day activities that will make a difference

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Embrace natives: Our natural plant community has evolved and adapted to our local environment. The plants have come to thrive in our individual site micro-climates. With decades of experience, it only takes a few minutes of understanding to make us aware of what should be growing at our homes. Illinois is the Prairie State. Pre-settlement, most of northern Illinois was covered in tall grass prairie punctuated with oak groves. There were stands of trees, mostly on the east sides of waterways that helped protect them from prairie fires. Robbi and I are fortunate to live on the edge of a pre-settlement oak grove. We have nurtured our trees and restored prairie to a large portion of our property. We have helped encourage the population of bluebirds and provided food and habitat for butterflies and pollinators. These are all good things for our environment.

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Harvest rainwater: Early in my training I was taught about storm water management. It basically consisted of proper pipe sizing to send rainwater downstream and away from homes. It kept the basement dry, but that was all. We are now suggesting rainwater harvesting. What are ways we can refill our personal aquifers? How can we keep the rainwater on our properties to care for our plants and gardens? Rain barrels are a simple way to do it. You have an instant source of water for your plants and gardens following each rain event. Rain gardens are another way. We direct and collect rainwater in appropriate spaces in our landscapes and allow the water to pool and percolate into our soil structure. It ultimately adds to ground water and cares for our plants.

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Plant Pollinators: Considerable research has been done that shows how dependent we are on plant pollinating insects. They are essential in plant productivity and the creation of our fruits and vegetables. Random use of pesticides and reduction of habitat have crushed insect populations. We can support the pollinators by reducing/eliminating our use of pesticides and by planting pollinator friendly plants. Beautiful gardens can be created that attract butterflies and other pollinators. The flowers are fabulous and change with the season. Robbi and I enjoy sitting in our pollinator garden and counting the number of unique species we have attracted.

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The Earth is ours to exploit or restore. It is really up to us. We invite you to join us in the restoration of our home.

Wishing you fabulous memories in your gardens. Flourish!

Bob Hursthouse, along with his wife Robbi, are founders of Hursthouse Landscape Architects, located in Bolingbrook, Illinois, and core members of NextHaus Alliance.

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