Posted in education on February 26, 2014 2:40 pm EST

Tutorial: Leading through Landscaping

Even when it comes to landscape water management, designers and contractors help churches lead by example.











Sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter Designer Today to stay up to date with all we do at Designer and with what's going on in the field of house of worship architecture.


TAGS: green, landscaping, sustainability,


By Barbara Landrith

Even when it comes to landscape water management, designers and contractors help churches lead by example

Landscaping is one of the most important features of a church. It needs to be inviting, healing, joyful and represent God’s splendor here on Earth. Church grounds often host picnics, playgrounds, healing gardens, weddings, funerals and many are attached to schools. The beauty of the grounds must convey to the congregation and the community the beauty of God’s love and commitment to his people. The appearance of the grounds, including maintenance and plant selection, not only helps to shape the image of the organization, but it also affects the church’s bottom line. One of the biggest issues facing the bottom line of today’s facility managers is water conservation.

Because of our world’s shortage of water, water conservation has become a great issue now and will be for generations to come. With significant increases in population and reduced resources from previous years, our nation’s current water needs are exceeding our supply. In addition, there have been significant increases in the costs of transporting water. According to a recent report by the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA,, the cost of water will continue to go up due to the cost of replacing or maintaining our aging water infrastructure. As a result, reducing water waste has become a top priority for churches, leading companies and other organizations that own and operate their own facilities. Smart water management choices can help properties save water costs, run at peak efficiency and send a message to the community that caring organizations lead by example.

Smart water management and sustainability are now mainstream throughout the United States and the world. The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) is an interdisciplinary effort by the Washington, D.C.-based American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden, Washington, D.C., to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices. In addition, President Obama recently issued Executive Order 13514 based on the Sustainable Sites Initiative giving Federal agencies and facilities managers environmental, energy and economic performance guidelines, including sustainable landscaping for facilities managers and contractors to help save outdoor water usage. According to the Sustainable Sites Initiative, “irrigation of unsustainable landscapes accounts for more than a third of residential water use—more than 7 billion gallons per day nationwide. Typically, half of irrigation water can be wasted as a result of evaporation, wind, improper system design, and overwatering.”  continued >>