Examples: Naturescape-Conventional and Naturescape-Restoration
To facilitate a better understanding of the process of making a plan, we now offer a few examples. Please note that some municipalities and non-profit entities offer workshops on how to design a naturescape for your property.
The examples include:
A threshold difference between conventional landscaping and restoration landscaping is that conventional landscaping tends to look at a plant for the function it provides while restoration landscaping tends to look at the ecological relationship of the plant to the site and to other plants.
Conventional landscaping, for example, will label a plant a "groundcover" for the function it provides of covering the ground. The use of a groundcover is favored in conventional landscaping, while it is disfavored in restoration landscaping. A groundcover is typically a plant that forces out other plants and monopolizes an area. This is perhaps favored in conventional landscaping in that it may provide a certain look or permit easier identification of weeds. A groundcover is not favored, however, in restoration landscaping because it promotes a loss of biodiversity and provides limited nutritional and habitat benefits. Many monoculture groundcover plantings are quite sterile.
Other aspects of conventional landscaping that are not favored in restoration landscaping include placing plants in well defined rows (or other geometric arrangements that require maintenance to retain the desired geometry), planting in monoculture (i.e., planting a lot of the same plant) and promoting pruning practices that mandate a geometric shape that removes the food or shelter offerings of that plant.
While NS-restoration is better from an ecological standpoint, NS-conventional is better than what exists in many places and may be more readily accepted by neighbors and easier to deal with for a naturescaping novice. NS-conventional tends to work well for smaller confined spaces such as park strips, parking lot landscape "islands" and areas border by walks, driveways or curbs. Larger areas tend to be better suited to NS-restoration. And there is no reason why you can’t have both on the same site. For example, have NS-conventional close to the house and NS-restoration further away.