Q and A: Landscaping Process and Considerations

November 25, 2008

November2008Landscaping a new hospital takes strategic planning and  much effort.  Hitchcock Design Group, Sherman Hospital’s landscaping architect, has answered a few questions some of us might be curious about when it comes to landscaping for a newly constructed hospital.

1. The hospital has taken a positive environmental stance with their geothermal lake. Are there any other environmental, energy-conservation or “green” aspects of the project that readers and supporters should know about?

Using a predominantly native plant palette is environmentally conscious, conserves energy, and is ‘green.’ Native plants are well adapted to the climate of Elgin, so they do not require special soil treatments, fertilizer, herbicides, or other human interventions to survive and thrive making them a sustainable choice.

Establishing native plantings require specialized maintenance, called “stewardship” in the industry, for the first three to five years however, once established, the native areas require significantly less mowing, fertilizing, weeding, and other energy intensive maintenance than a typical Kentucky Bluegrass lawn.

In addition, native plants are an important component of a healthy ecosystem providing food and habitat for amphibians, reptiles, mammals and insects.

2. What considerations did you have in determining and selecting which plants to use in the landscape plan? Did you consider or use native plants?

Native and non-native plants are used on the campus.  The planting approach is quite simple; native plantings are used in a naturalized fashion on the outskirts of the campus and as one gets closer to the buildings the plants become a mix of native and non-native plantings used in an ornamental fashion.

Some specific considerations for selecting plants were:

  1. Restoring an Illinois prairie in the northwest corner of the campus with native plants.
  2. Using a blend of two native grasses for the future building areas because they are hardy and relatively easy to establish and maintain.
  3. Using native aquatic and mesic plantings around all of the ponds because they are hardy, provide erosion control, provide habitat and seasonal interest.
  4. Using native plantings in an ornamental fashion around the building.
  5. Using very tough, adapted, proven, plants in challenging growing areas such as the parking lot islands and near the buildings for color, interest, recognition and durability.

Native plantings were selected for the areas outside of the loop road; the northwest corner of the campus, for example, will have native prairie plants used in a naturalized fashion to recreate an Illinois prairie.

3. Is there any special vegetation that has to planted around the geothermal lake for any reason?

Native plants from the aquatic (or submergent) and mesic communities were used in the water at the pond edge and on the shores and slopes of the pond and were chosen for several reasons.  Native plants are adapted to the climate and ecosystem and, therefore, do very well with minimal intervention from humans.  In addition, they will control erosion from wave energy, provide seasonal interest, and provide habitat for fish, amphibians, and mammals which help control the mosquito population.

4. How did the landscaping around the exterior of the hospital affect any color palette or finishing decisions for the interior?

Sherman worked with Hitchcock Design Group on the “feel” of the new building. We knew we wanted to create an environment that felt warm and comfortable.  We wanted a color palette that would incorporate the colors of nature, at the same time we worked with Hitchcock to create that vision for the landscaping. When the signage consultant was brought on, we already had these ideas and they incorporated a silhouette of the plantings for the interior and exterior signage.

5 Responses to “Q and A: Landscaping Process and Considerations”

  1. ElginGuy said

    I figured Sherman would be using native plants in its landscape plan. Nice article on the details! Keep ’em coming.

  2. mfd1 said

    It’s great Sherman is taking such care in planning every detail of the new hospital. The geothermal lake is by far the best feature…it’s going to make for a beautiful healing environment.

  3. Teresa said

    I was so impressed that this hospital was being environmentally responsible and adding a geothermal lake. It doesn’t surprise me that they also took the same approach with the landscaping. I’m anxious to see everything pulled together, I’m sure it will be a proud day for Elgin and its residents.

  4. MaggieMay said

    I was so impressed to hear the initial program for the geothermal lake and now this has put the perception of Sherman in a whole new league. For them to be this conscious and aware of the environment and to take responsibility and action for what they are doing is great. Keep up the good work! I will def. be coming to the new Sherman Hospital when it opens. They have certainly won my respect.

  5. mzpritteful said

    Very interesting article. It’s good to know that so much thought goes into planning vegetation and that Sherman is working to keep it as “green” as can be! Always good to hear!

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