Integrated Landscaping: Following Nature’s Lead
by Lauren Chase-Rowell, Katherine Hartnett, Mary Tebo, and Marilyn Wyzga (UNH
Cooperative Extension and NH Fish and Game Department: paper, 162 pages, $ 20.00)

Book Review by Rebecca Rule

Ever wonder where the extra money folks in New Hampshire pay for the
moose license plate goes? Some of it helped fund
Integrated Landscaping:  
Following Nature’s Lead

This book, a collaboration among four New Hampshire women, promises “a
new way of thinking about shaping home grounds and public spaces in the
Northeast.”  And it delivers.  

With rural New Hampshire fast disappearing, it seems the only way to
preserve our nature, that is our identity as a place where people and wild
things can share the land, is to integrate living spaces with  landscape.  

Between 1960 and 2000 our population doubled.  “By 2025 rural New
Hampshire will be restricted to the North Country and isolated pockets in the
west.”  How sad.  But short of moving to Wyoming, what are you going to do?

Lauren Chase-Rowell and Katherine Hartnett (design experts), along with
Mary Tebo (forestry educator) and Mary Wyzga (wildlife educator) offer many
ideas, both practical and visionary, for keeping New Hampshire New
Hampshire.  They envision a more populated state that is still naturally

Generously illustrated and clearly written, i.e., jargon free,
offers practical suggestions -- from landscape diagrams to lists of
wildlife friendly plants -- for living with and in nature.  

Take rocks, for example.  We’ve got plenty, and, as it turns out, rocks not only
look nice in our yards, but provide hiding places for critters. Instead of cutting
down that dead tree, leave it for the birds and bugs to enjoy. Think of the dead
tree as sculpture.

Take water, another example.  “Even something as simple as a half-barrel with
a few wetland plants in it” can increase plant diversity. If you’re lucky enough
to live near the water, the book describes the particular delights and
challenges of preserving shoreline environments.  Instead of a rolling lawn
and all that mowing, buffer vegetation protects the water and provides habitat
for birds and animals.  

When neighbors cooperate, so the buffers cross property lines, a more
continuous habitat results:  layers of plant life to retrain water rather than
letting it run freely from land to lake.  Layers can be tall and small, from Black
Spruce and American Mountain Ash at the back of  the buffer, to Spicebush,
Winterberry, Silky Dogwood, and Elderberry closer to shore, then the smaller
plants like Iris, Bog Rosemary, Common Cattail and Summersweet with their
feet practically in the drink.

There’s some scary information in here, including the proliferation of invasive
plant species like Norway maple, burning bush, and Japanese barberry, which
threaten to crowd out natives because they grow so fast, aren’t fussy about
soil, and have no natural enemies.   We don’t need them, and, in fact, they are
illegal to sell, purchase or plant.  

But even if you don’t plant a forbidden Crimson King Norway maple on your
lot, the lot itself is part of the problem -- the chopping up of habitats into
homesteads.  If we could do less chopping and more integrating, we could
keep some of the wildness we love in our state.  Integrated landscapes “mimic
combinations found in nature.”  Instead of individual plantings, homeowners
or caretakers of public lands would do well to think of the whole system of
plantings, how the plants fit and work together.  They should consider the
animals and insects and their needs, as well as “aesthetic landscape qualities.”
Besides being aesthetically pleasing, integrated landscapes require minimal
maintenance, because they’re doing what comes naturally.  Let nature be the
teacher and everybody wins.  

About the author: Rebecca Rule is a humorist, author and storyteller, who is
the author of  short fiction, including
The Best Revenge, Could Have Been Worse:
True Stories, Embellishments and Outright Lies,
and her most recent book Live Free
and Eat Pie.
 Visit her web site at
Integrated Landscaping:
Following Nature's Lead

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