Landscapes of the Future: Sustainable Landscaping

By Cindy Pantea

Native grasses and plants for sustainable landscaping at homeHow about adding a field of native grasses and flowers to your landscaping to eliminate mowing? Or really planning to preserve what’s already on your property – tree for shade and natural streams – and then adding plants that will serve to feed yourself, the soil and insects?

That was the subject of last night’s presentation at the Greater Akron Innovation Network for Sustainability (GAINS). GAINS is a group of business professionals who promote sustainability efforts in Akron.

The presentation, Paint Your Lawn Green – Sustainable Landscaping Techniques, was given by married couple and business partners, Samuel L. Salsbury, FAPLD, and Sabrena Schweyer, FAPLD, of Salsbury-Schweyer, Inc.

Sabrena, the plants expert, shared her knowledge about edible and natural landscaping. Samuel , the water expert, spoke about bettering combined sewer overflow systems (CSOs) and rainwater harvesting.

We learned from Samuel that having a combined sewer overflow system (rainwater and sewer), like ours here in Akron, means that in heavy storms, the combination rainwater and sewer flows into our rivers – contaminating them. Until such time as infrastructures can be built to store overflow water until it can be treated, it helps to be able to keep rainwater on your property, through rain gardens, wetlands, green roofs and rainwater harvesting (rain barrels), which can provide bioswales and help reduce overflow problems.

From Sabrena, we learned that certain plants and grasses can help with the absorption of rainwater. We also learned that we should copy the beauty of a natural landscape. After all, nature doesn’t plant in solid masses, so diversify. Plant in layers for direct benefit to humans, plant in areas of direct benefit to soil and wildlife, and choose plants that serve multiple purposes.

It’s called permaculture. It’s all about rethinking design, say these experts, and living more gently and in harmony with the earth. Do this instead of only inventing gadgets that, yes, aim to help but put only a band-aid on the larger environmental problems at hand – namely global warming.

But what will the neighbors or homeowner’s association say about my tall native grass field?

Nothing if they’re serious about the environment and conservation, and Samuel and Sabrena have had these conversations before – they won.

Meanwhile, this type of landscaping it is exactly what the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency advocates when it comes to the Conservation Reserve Program. In fact, the photo for this blog was taken from the USDA FSA Conservation Programs site, and it included this caption: Small CRP field enhanced with native grasses and flowers makes a lovely addition to the neighborhood.

It’s time for creative thinking in landscape design. I invite you to check out the site, and especially the portfolio page of Salsbury-Schweyer, Inc. You will absolutely fall in love with the natural beauty.

Thank you to GAINS for allowing me to talk about the Summit of Sustainability.

Find out more about GAINS. They’re on LinkedIn and Facebook!


Dreamscape Raffle Kickoff!

By Helen Dauka, Keep Akron Beautiful Intern

By participating in the Dreamscape Raffle, you’re not only giving yourself a chance for beautification, you’re giving all of Akron an opportunity too.

For ten years, the Dreamscape Raffle has funded Keep Akron Beautiful’s Flowerscape Program. There were 36,000 flowers planted throughout the 39 Flowerscapes in 2012, helping to beautify Akron’s landscape!

This year’s lead landscape designer is Nick Roth, of Nick’s Landscaping of Ohio, LLC. Nick’s Landscaping has been a long-term vendor partner. Dave Thomas of R.G. Thomas Landscape & Design, Inc. did a fantastic job last year as lead landscape designer, transforming the backyard of David Canfield, a Copley resident. Nick has some big shoes to fill but we’re excited to see what he can do!

Joining Nick’s Landscaping in this collaborative effort,  offering goods and services for the landscape makeover are Advanced Arboriculture, Belgard® Sales, Cascade Lighting, Inc.Circle K, Dayton NurseriesDonzell’s Greenhouse & Garden Center, Hitchcock Fleming & Associates, Inc., Main Street Gourmet, Naragon Irrigation, Pam’s Perennial Plant Farm, Paul’s GreenhouseR.B. Stout, Inc., R.G. Thomas Landscape and Design, Inc., Gates Landscaping Co., Graf Growers Garden CenterKB Compost Services, Inc.Star Printing Co. Inc., Suncrest GardensTim’s Custom Electric,  Terrascape LTD., W.L. Tucker Supply Co., Vision Graphics & Printing, Wilson Plumbing & Heating, Inc. and YES Press Printing Co.

You can join our team and help us beautify Akron! Purchase your Dreamscape Raffle ticket today! In addition to online, tickets can be purchased at the KAB office located at 850 East Market Street, Akron, or the following locations: Dayton Nurseries, Inc., Donzell’s Flower & Garden Center, Inc. Graf Growers Garden Center , Hoffman’s Garden Center, Inc., Paul’s Greenhouse, Suncrest Gardens.

Remember, our grand prize winner from 2012 purchased his ticket online. Raffle tickets are $25 each or five for $100.

Owners of Summit County businesses or residences can enter to win a professionally designed front or back yard makeover valued at $10,000.

The winning ticket will be drawn on Thursday, June 6, 2012 at 10:30 a.m., at Alexander Park on West Market Street (the location of one of our Flowerscapes). The winner will have until the end of June to meet with Nick Roth of Nick’s Landscaping, to create their plan for the landscape transformation the week of August 5-9, 2013. The grand prize winner may choose tomake over the front or back yard of their property

In addition to the grand prize ticket, there are three runner-up prizes. Runner-up prizes include 4 yards of mulch or compost blown into landscaped beds by TerraScape, LTD, a birdbath donated by Suncrest Gardens and a basket of gardening supplies courtesy of Graf Growers.

Registration Open for Clean Up Akron Month

By Jacqui Flaherty, Program Manager

Are you ready to make your city a better place to live? For 32 years Keep Akron Beautiful has been working to recruit thousands of civic-minded volunteers to adopt a public parcel of land to clean during Clean Up Akron Week, now moving to Clean Up Akron Month. As a part of the national Great American Cleanup with Keep America Beautiful, this is the nation’s largest annual community improvement program that harnesses the power of over 4 million volunteers to build vibrant communities.

Each year over 1,200 affiliates and participating organizations engage volunteers to take action in their communities through programs that deliver positive and lasting impact through events focused on waste reduction, recycling, beautification and community greening.  In 2012, 4.2 million Great American Cleanup volunteers worked tirelessly to return nearly $230 million in measurable benefits in 20,000 communities across the country.

Keep Akron Beautiful is encouraging all area residents to get involved in the 2013 Great American Cleanup™, by participating in the 32nd annual Clean Up Akron Month during April 2013. This year, we are cleaning up for an entire month, with the culmination event taking place on SUPER SATURDAY, April 27, 2013 at the Akron Zoological Park. The first 1,000 registered volunteers are invited to a picnic and celebration on SUPER SATURDAY. We look forward to cleaning up with you, your civic groups and your families in April.


Check out all the tires Buchtel High School students found in 2012!

One of our cleanup groups from 2012 sweeps up glass on Super Saturday!

Upcoming March Garden Seminars at Donzell’s and Dayton’s

By Jacqui Flaherty, Program Manager

Many of you know that Donzell’s Flower and Garden Center and Dayton Nurseries (both organizations are part of our Dreamscape vendor partner program) are hosting garden seminars on Saturday’s in February and March at 11 AM. We already posted a blog article on all of the February classes, but lets take a look at the classes that are coming up in March!

All of the Donzell’s Flower and Garden Center seminars are located at their Garden Center (937 E. Waterloo Road in Akron). You must register for the seminars by calling 330.724.0550, ext. 110. All of the classes are free of charge. The following presentations are planned:

  • March 2-3- The Greater Akron Orchid Society Show is taking place at Donzell’s. The Orchid Show offers exotic orchid displays, orchid vendors and experts on hand to answer questions. The show is free and is open to the public in the greenhouse. The “Wine and Orchids” Wine Tasting event will take place on March 2 from 1 to 4 PM featuring local wineries’ products now sold at Donzells’.
  • March 9- “Bonsai Basics and Beyond,” with  speaker Dale Cochoy of the Akron Bonsai Society. Cochoy brings more than 30 years of experience with demonstrations and growing and care information.
  • March 16- “Oh Deer!,” with speaker Carol Zeh, teacher and nanny for “Dillie the Deer”. Dillie is a farm-born white-tailed deer born blind and raised inside a home in Canal Fulton. Zeh shares tips on keeping deer out of yards, as well as Dillie stories.
  • March 23- “Herbs for Health and Beauty,” with speaker  Barb Oare of the Quail Hollow Herb Society. Oare will cover easy ways that herbs can help with headaches, coughs and colds, ease stress and more.
  • March 30- “Vegetable Gardening Basics,” with speaker Lee Paulson, a Master Gardener. Paulson will cover the basics for those who want to enjoy their own fresh-picked vegetables.

All of the Dayton Nurseries seminars are located at Dayton’s (3459 S. Cleveland-Massillon Road, Norton.) The classes cost $6 for garden club members and $10 for others. Seating is limited. Advance payment is requested, but you may also pay at the door. To register, call 330.825.3320 or email The following presentations are planned:

  • March 2- “Understanding Lawn Maintenance” by Mark Laube of Oliger Seed Co. Did you know that spring lawn care begins immediately after the final frost? With his years of expertise in lawn care for NE Ohio, Mark Laube will get you started in the right direction for 2013. From selection of the best seed, fertilizer, insect and disease care, Mark will discuss proper lawn maintenance for home lawns.
  • March 9- “What’s New and Exciting for 2013” by Tom Dayton and Karen Martin of Dayton Nurseries. A sneak peak of the newest, most exciting introductions in trees, shrubs, evergreens, perennials, vines and annuals. Our slide show will include pictures, plant information and care tips with the knowledge and expertise of owner Tom Dayton and an introduction to our new perennial manager, Karen.

We look forward to these upcoming classes and hope you will join in on one–or a few of them!