The Cape-Friendly Landscape: Beautiful, Natural, Low Maintenance Landscapes that Serve and Protect People, Pets and the Environment

By Michael Talbot

The modern American landscape has evolved from the varied and colorful—but high vegetable garden and moremaintenance—English cottage garden style to the present trend of angular expanses of lawn and hardscape with simple hedges, islands and borders with exotic plants. The good news about this trend is that landscapes are better planned and are designed to be more functional. The bad news is that lawns are the second leading source of nitrogen pollution degrading the bays, ponds and estuaries that help make Cape Cod such a special place to live and visit. The modern landscape also tends to be a more sterile environment.

               Today, thanks to the pioneering work of some ecological landscape designers and land care professionals—including staff at Talbot Ecological Land Care—you can have an attractive,functional landscape that also protects and even enhances the fragile environment of the Cape and Islands. Furthermore, this post-modern trend of ecological land care and design is safer for families, pets, and wildlife – such as birds and butterflies – that add interest and beauty to our natural world.

               The ecological landscape starts with a thorough understanding of the site, the soils, the surrounding environment and the people who will use and enjoy it. Extensive knowledge of appropriate, low maintenance plant and landscape options is also critical. Using these tools, the Cape-friendly landscape has the right blend of sustainable, environmentally-friendly lawn along with plantings that are pest, drought and stress resistant while providing year- round color and interest.

               The natural world of the Cape and Islands provides the inspiration for the Cape-friendly landscape. Use native and appropriate plants with multiple seasons of interest in ways that reflect the varied habitats of our region. The ecological landscape still follows the principles of attractive landscape design and maximum usefulness to the people using the site.

               The result is a truly low maintenance landscape that serves you better, while bringing the beauty and serenity of nature into your own private greenspace. Add to that the latest in ecological lawn, tree, shrub and garden care, and you have a landscape that provides you with the peace of mind that come from knowing that your family and pets are protected—and that you are not damaging the fragile environment we all love.

               Even if you already have an established lawn and landscape, Talbot Ecological Land Care can show you safer ways to manage your lawns, trees and shrubs. By using organic, slow release fertilizers you can have a very attractive lawn with only a fraction of the nitrogen used in conventional lawn programs—and at a competitive price. Even for the fussiest homeowner, spot treatment of weeds using less toxic materials, and other ecological methods of pest management, can ensure high quality lawns, trees and shrubs that are still much safer for families and pets. Even effective, organic treatment of deer and dog ticks is now available through us.

               Our designers and horticulturists can also discuss ways to enhance your existing landscape or to restore an older, high maintenance or “tired” landscape. Whether it is a small corner of the yard or a complete master plan, the principles of ecological landscaping are the same. We have the expertise to tackle the most challenging problem—including issues that involve Conservation Commission permitting and approval. Talbot Ecological Land Care has over a decade of experience in conservation permitting and restoration— from vista pruning to dune restoration to master planning for new or re-built homes.

               To experience the finest in ecological design and restoration, and tree, shrub and lawn care, contact us for a site visit. We lecture on these subjects all over the northeastern United States, but we are a locally owned company that does most of our work right here in southeastern Massachusetts.

Michael Talbot is a Massachusetts Certified Horticulturist and landscape designer, a certified arborist and a restoration ecologist. He is co-owner of Talbot Ecological Land Care with over three decades of experience. He is the author of many articles and publications, has appeared on the Victory Garden and other television and radio programs, and lectures throughout the northeastern United States. He can be reached at 508-539- 1912 or at

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