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J.C. Raulston Arboretum hosts conference on sustainable landscaping

by Dee Shore, NC State University

Sustainable landscaping not only benefits the environment, it creates new opportunities for landscape  and green industry professionals. These opportunities are the focus of a new summer conference on sustainable landscaping practices at the JC Raulston Arboretum.

The arboretum, which is part of NC State University, will host the July 26 event through a partnership with the North Carolina Composting Council. Speakers and topics are:

  • “Soil, Plant, and Environmental Benefits of Soil Health in Sustainable Landscape Practices,” presented by Ron Alexander, a horticulturist and the president of R. Alexander Associates, a consulting company in Apex specializing in product development for organic recycled products.
  • “Making Lawns Pop: Sustainable Practices in Turfgrass Maintenance and Establishment,”presented by Greg Harris, owner of Leapfrog Landcare, a full-service landscaping company based in Fuquay Varina.
  • “Educating Customers on Sustainable vs. Traditional Turf Practices,” presented by Kevin Cooper, vice president of Cooper’s Landscape Management in Virginia Beach
  • “Managing for a Sustainable Landscape: Steps to Prevent Stress, Pests, and Pathogens,”presented by Barbara Fair, associate professor in NC State’s Department of Horticultural Science and extension landscape specialist focusing on issues of landscape sustainability and arboriculture.
  • “How to Market a Sustainable Landscaping Business,” presented by Bryce Lane, Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor Emeritus and Lecturer Emeritus in NC State’s Department of Horticultural Science.

The event, designed for landscape and other green industry professionals, offers continuing education credits for the American Society of Landscape Architects, the N.C. Board of Landscape Architects and the N.C. Landscape Contractors’ Licensing Board.

Gary Gittere, president of the North Carolina Composting Council, suggested the idea for such a seminar. “Both the composting council and the company I work for, McGill Environmental Systems, are interested in educating people about the importance of soil health.

“Right now there is a lack of knowledge in the landscape industry of amending soils so they have proper organic matter content to grow things like grass and crops and flowers,” he said. “The focus over the last several decades has been to utilize synthetic fertilizers, not focusing on the soil, helping provide a proper planting environment for plants, turf, and crops.

“We thought it was important for landscapers to know more about amending soils and how to use a sustainable program,” he added. “We’ve always found that if you can educate your landscape architects, you can educate your landscape companies, and then they can help educate the end user, be that a homeowner or commercial property owner.”

Registration in advance is required. To find out more, visit the event webpage or contact the arboretum’s Programs and Education Coordinator Christopher Todd Glenn at (919) 513-7005 or chris_glenn@ncsu.edu.

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