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Kim Eierman

Kim Eierman

Founder of EcoBeneficial!

Available for virtual and in-person landscape consulting, talks and classes.

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How Can I Create an Ecological Landscape in Pennsylvania

I want to create an ecological landscape in Pennsylvania on 4 acres of land.  How can I get started?


Thanks for your question.  You have an opportunity to made a tremendous positive impact with 4 acres.   The first order of business is to do a site analysis.  A good resource for this is Site Assessment for Better Gardens and Landscapes written by Charlie Mazza and published by Plant and Life Sciences Publishing.  Given the size of your landscape, you may well have different conditions on different parts of the site, so assess them individually.

Some of the important ecological elements to consider:

– What ecoregion are you in?  By knowing your ecoregion you can then work from a list of native plants that are appropriate for your region:  Here is a link for the ecoregions of  Pennsylvania.  Keep in mind that the native plants you choose must be appropriate for the conditions of a given site (wet/dry, sun/shade, high pH/low pH etc.) in addition to being suitable for your ecoregion.

– What are the existing ecosystems on the site, such as a wetland, woodland, meadow (wet and/or dry), vernal pools, et al?  Each one of these ecosystems will require a different planting and management approach.

– Have you included a pollinator garden and/or meadow?  That would be a good idea to attract not only pollinators but beneficial insects as well.  For helpful information see Heather Holm’s new book, Pollinators of Native Plants.

– Have you identified the native plants for your ecoregion and done a planting plan?  Have you factored in layers that occur in nature including: native trees (canopy and understory), shrubs, sub-shurbs, and the herbaceous layer (native perennials, grasses, sedges)?

Here are some books that will help you with native plants of Pennsylvania:

Pennsylvania Native Plants/Perennials: Habitat and Culture by Geoffrey Mehl

A Gardener’s Guide to Native Plants of Northeastern Pennsylvania by Geoffrey Mehl

Trees of Pennsylvania: A Complete Reference Guide by Ann Fowler Rhoads

Another great resource is the Pennsylvania Native Plant Society.  They have quite a few links to other resources as well.

Best of luck with your landscape!


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