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Mill Creek’s new sustainable landscaping a collaborative effort

Volunteers and Mill Creek staff planted the new sustainable landscaping on Saturday, June 22nd. According to Linda Knox, Mill Creek Town Center Business Association past-president, "It looks great!"
The new sustainable landscaping at Mill Creek City Hall. Photo credit: Lesley Van Winkle.

June 24, 2013 update

Volunteers and Mill Creek staff planted the new sustainable landscaping on Saturday, June 22nd. According to Linda Knox, Mill Creek Town Center Business Association past-president, "It looks great!"

Once the new sustainable landscaping is established it will need much less water and upkeep than the conventional landscaping it replaced. However, Jesse Blum, Mill Creek Design Review Board member, cautions that it will take up to three full years for the new plants to be established. It will be important to keep the new plants well watered during this period.

Original June 17, 2013 article

Mill Creek City Hall will get a new look this weekend when volunteers show up to plant the City’s sustainable landscaping demonstration garden on Saturday, June 22nd, 2013 at 10 am.

Everyone is invited to join in. There will be a short sustainable landscaping workshop followed by hands-on planting of the new garden. Please RSVP online at www.sustainablemc.eventbrite.com to ensure there are enough handouts and refreshments.

Mill Creek is teaming with the Snohomish Conservation District, Edmonds Community College, the Mill Creek Garden Club, and Snohomish County Washington State University Extension to create attractive landscaping using native plants that will use less water, fertilizer and upkeep than the existing planting.

The project is being paid for by a surface water grant awarded to the City by the Washington State Department of Ecology three years ago. The demonstration garden allows the City to provide public education and outreach activities that will help reduce surface water pollution coming from traditional landscaping such as lawns.

The design goals of the project are as follows:

  • Create a sustainable, beautiful garden space with low maintenance needs.
  • Utilize native Pacific Northwest plants that are drought tolerant.
  • Provide a community space that is aesthetically pleasing and an opportunity for educational outreach.

At the May 15, 2013, City Council meeting, Tom Gathmann, Mill Creek Public Works Director, described the changes to expect, “Landscaping with native plant species that has a sustainable theme has a much more ‘subdued’ and subtle appearance than typical urban landscaping and will result in a significantly different appearance at City Hall. Bright annual flowers and bulbs will be replaced with wildflowers and the bright green lawn will be replaced with native grasses and ground covers. Several mature trees and shrubs will be removed as well.”

According to the May 16, 2013, presentation to Mill Creek’s Design Review Board, “Staff at the Snohomish Conservation District contacted the teaching staff at Edmonds Community College to enlist the help of a landscape design instructor and students with the design of the project. The design became a collaborative class project.”

“The front of City Hall was selected as the project location because it has good public visibility, relatively high pedestrian traffic, and is easy to monitor.”

“The site was divided into five zones, and the design elements visually connect the landscaped areas separated by the walkways. There is extensive use of native grasses and wildflowers, and positioning of plant types to highlight the natural vertical structure from ground covers through grasses, shrubs, understory and tree layers.”

Jesse Bloom, award winning landscape architect and Mill Creek Design Review Board member, reviewed the Edmonds Community College design and made a number of suggestions regarding plant selection, which were adopted into the final plan.

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