Currents

Environment, Landscapes, Interpretation

  • By: Kyle Braun | 0 Comments

    Imbuing Your Backyard Landscape with Natural Beauty

    A lofty fragrance. Lush in color. Tidy and tailored to straight lines. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as the saying holds, and for many Pacific Northwest landowners this means a traditional English-style lawn.  However, for those hoping to achieve a more environmentally-friendly aesthetic in their yards, it’s important to know how “natural beauty” isn’t just how green a plant appears or well its flowers look or smell, but how the plants contribute to its surrounding ecology.

    Take the non-native Vinca Vine (upper left), or the English Ivy (lower left) for example. Their ground covering characteristics and colorful flowers make it a favorable species to plant in the back yard. Yet, a homeowner looking to highlight “natural beauty” in their landscape design may instead look to the Kinnikinnick (upper right), or the Beach Strawberry (lower right).

    Why?

    The non-native Vinca Vine and English Ivy, although pretty with grander leaves, are selfish plants that consume a lot of water, attempt to outcompete other yard plants for resources, and often choke out native trees. Meanwhile, landowners can count on the Kinnikinnick and Beach Strawberry to not only look good, but also maintain a symbiotic relationship with their other landscape elements, their comparatively “messy” flowers and berries acting as a resource for many pollinators and bird and insect species.

    Mistaking non-natives’ “skin-deep” aesthetics for “natural beauty” is easy to do. In fact, many popular ornamental plants—exhaustively trimmed and watered by Seattle-area landowners to create their seasonal affect—are actually harmful to their local habitat and identified by King County as noxious weeds. These ornamental plants can be replaced by cheaper local natives (right) that require no additional watering and whose aesthetic matches the noxious peers. Why work so hard when there are native plants that look good year-round and achieve local permitting and restoration goals?

    Don’t know what’s native or not? Want to make your yard into an urban wildlife sanctuary? Watershed’s landscape architects and designers can help create planting plans and landscape designs that achieves your aesthetic goals while benefiting the local environment. Contact us today for more information.

  • By: Adam Tycaster | 0 Comments

    Watershed Helps at Both Ends of the Duwamish

    The Duwamish River has always been a cornerstone of Seattle’s prosperity, as noted in David B. William’s Too High and Too Steep, a history of Seattle’s topography. But before it was straightened, dredged, and filled in the early 1900s to become the economic engine we know of it as today, the Duwamish was the most important estuary in middle Puget Sound, a complex, wildlife-rich area relied upon by the Duwamish Tribe and fed by the now-mostly-diverted Black River.

    Last week, as part of an ongoing regional effort to restore the functions and processes altered by the River’s industrialization, scientists from The Watershed Company took part in separate projects at each river end to improve the Duwamish’s ecological health and protect its native species going forward.

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  • By: Mark Daniel | 0 Comments

    How Long Will It Take to Permit My Project?

    Project proponents are typically very interested in the answer to this question, as it is an important determinant of a project’s overall schedule. Below, I offer general guidance in respect to projects proposed in or near areas with environmental features such as shorelines, streams, or wetlands within Washington State. 

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    Why Historic Preservation Matters in Project Planning

    The Watershed Company is celebrating National Preservation Month with a post from Watershed Preservation Planner Malia Bassett.

    Believe it or not, preservation is just as much about today and the future as it is about the past. The federal government formally recognized the importance of historic properties in 1966 with passage the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), responding to the widespread destruction of communal downtown areas for post-war new development. 

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  • By: Lucas Vannice | 0 Comments

    Arbor Day: A Celebration of the Future

    Today, April 29th, is Arbor Day. This is the day to invite all the arborists in your life to your tree house, cook them a nice meal of broccoli trees, then settle in and watch Bob Ross paint some “happy trees.” Don’t have a happy tree abode full of broccoli-biting buddies? That’s fine, because Arbor Day is also about celebrating “the role of trees in our lives and promotes tree planting and care.”  Perhaps you don’t like “Hallmark” holidays and think Arbor Day is an ironic means of selling greeting cards. In fact, tree planting festivals have been going on for centuries as a means to celebrate life, vitality, and family.

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  • By: Adam Tycaster | 0 Comments

    Avoiding the Permitting Standstill

    In an ideal world, the challenges associated with public improvement projects should be as direct and aligned as dominoes falling in parallel on a flat surface. Identify a need (drop), address stakeholder concerns (drop), develop a plan (drop), obtain all necessary approvals (drop), and safely do the work according to the plan (drop, drop, drop). However, the complexities involved in implementing a plan within or adjacent to waterbodies is never so simple and not knowing how to acquire the proper permitting can leave a project at a standstill.

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