Mother Nature-approved landscaping brings buzz to Blatchford

A best-of-both worlds approach is helping to design Blatchford green spaces, with resulting landscaping that is both beautiful and environmentally smart.

But if it’s just trees, grass and plants, isn’t it “naturally nature” and automatically environmentally friendly? 

Not always. 

In urban areas where we two-legged creatures have drastically changed the landscape, we need to thoughtfully design green spaces to make sure other creatures also have a place to call home. 

“In the land’s previous life as an airport, the site was designed around concrete runways and clear sight lines—there was maybe a tree or two on the entire site,” said Tom Lumsden, Blatchford’s Development Manager. “And while those were important factors to have for an airport, we now have the opportunity as we redevelop this land to create an urban oasis right in the centre of our city.”

Rendering of the first stormwater pond in the community. 

Sustainable landscaping is important for many reasons. It supports urban wildlife, it reduces air, soil, and water pollution; and, it also makes for beautiful spaces for people to enjoy.

“One thing I know about human beings is that while we have to live in cities to be sustainable in terms of population growth, we also have to be close to nature,” said Tegan Martin-Drysdale, President of Ocheller by Redbrick, one of Blatchford’s home builders.

“We have to be near life and plants and greenery, and I think Blatchford is going to provide that type of lifestyle right in the heart of our city.” 

So, how do you build truly environmentally friendly landscaping? 

For the most part, it’s about creating the spaces to let nature do what it does best! 

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Here are just a few examples of how Blatchford is bringing back the birds and the bees.

Wetlands

The first stormwater pond in the community will have native and wetland vegetation planted into the water. The wetlands will provide micro-habitats where birds and beneficial insects can flourish, adding more biodiversity to the neighbourhood. Crews will also be installing amphibian habitats, aka frog houses. 

Canada geese have already started to move into the neighbourhood. 

Pollinator plants

Yes, honey bees and apples trees! An orchard with four different varieties of apple trees is being planted this year in the community’s first pocket park. Pollinator-friendly trees and plants will help attract and feed bees and other beneficial insects. This is vital in a time of declining bee populations. 

In addition to community gardens, Littlewood Park will feature an orchard with apple trees. 

Green roofs

A green roof is what it sounds like. Plants are grown on what otherwise would be a bare rooftop.  Not only do green roofs help reduce a building’s energy use and help manage stormwater runoff, they also provide another opportunity for habitat creation and biodiversity. 

Blatchford’s architectural controls mean any building more than three storeys tall will have to allot at least 40 percent of the roof as a green roof. 

Green roofs become home to a variety of plants, insects and birds. 

Rain gardens and bioswales 

Rain gardens and bioswales capture stormwater and allow it to slowly seep into the ground, reducing runoff and absorbing pollutants in the process. 

Home to the right plants, these water management features can attract life forms from butterflies to small mammals, strengthening biodiversity. 

Blatchford has the unique opportunity to build the best sustainability practices into the community from the ground up. Thanks to sustainable landscaping, the community will soon be buzzing with more than just people.

Editor’s note: May 31 to June 6, 2020, is Environment Week at the City of Edmonton and here on the Transforming Edmonton blog. 🌎