Design
with
​Nature
Design for People + Nature
Welcome to Native Edge!  We are an ecologically-focused landscape architecture firm specializing in developing landscapes for people and nature.  Our design philosophy is simple - work with nature, not against it.

Our design process revolves around the belief that every landscape should meet the needs of the people the site serves as well as the native local flora and fauna which are critical to the health of our local and regional ecosystems. 

Healthy landscapes create healthy communities, and a meaningful connection to the ecological heritage of the area is paramount to a site realizing its highest potential and is the foundation upon which all our projects are built. 

From a downtown plaza, to a private residence, our mission is to help our clients unlock the magic in their landscapes and discover the beauty and benefits to be had when we design with nature and embrace native landscapes.  
What we Do
We offer a wide variety of ecologically-focused design and consulting services to help our clients achieve their project goals.  A few key service areas of our practice are:
  
What are the Principals of Native Design + Placemaking?
Native landscapes are characterized as the natural ecological communities that were present prior to European settlement of North America.  These native ecological communities are diverse and dynamic, and feature native plants and wildlife that evolved together over millennia.

The principals of native design focus on mimicking the characteristics of native landscapes to preserve, restore, and enhance the natural communities and connections that humans and wildlife depend on.  From dry prairies to wetlands, native design utilizes native plants and native community types, and mimics native ecosystem processes (green infrastructure, rain gardens, bioswales) to create environments that are functional, beautiful, and enhance the health and character of the built and natural environments. 

Placemaking literally means ‘to make a place’.  Essentially, placemaking is equivalent to excellent design.  Excellent design results in vibrant, multidimensional places that are in tune with the current and future environmental, social, and economic needs of the site, and are firmly rooted in the history of the project area.  By blending placemaking and native design principals we can blur the lines between the built and natural environments and create resilient, innovative places where both people and nature can thrive together in harmony.
Why are Native Landscapes Important?
Native landscapes contain flora and fauna which evolved together over millennia to form complex and balanced ecosystems which support a healthy planet.  Plants and animals that evolved together often depend exclusively on these symbiotic evolutionary relationships, and when we displace native plants with non-native species from other parts of the country, or world, we disrupt the natural balance of the ecosystem and invite unwanted, potentially catastrophic consequences.

As we displace native plants, we also displace the wildlife that depends on those plants for their lifecycle needs.  A well-known example of this is the relationship between Monarch Butterflies and Milkweed plants.  Monarchs depend on Milkweeds to complete their lifecycle - from egg to adult.  When we take Milkweeds away, or don't intentionally plant them after natural habitats are disturbed by development, we unintentionally displace Monarchs.  Then we start to displace native birds which depend on fat Monarch caterpillars to eat and feed their chicks - and this unravelling goes on and on.  This scenario can be compared to a game of Jenga – take a few pieces out and you weaken the structure but take out too many and the whole system may collapse.  As we continue to develop more and more of our world, and put increased pressure on our natural environments, it is more important than ever to design for nature and turn our outdoor spaces into productive native landscapes.

In addition to the ecosystem benefits of native design, there are countless other benefits that native plants and native landscapes can provide from a design perspective.  Compared to traditional design practices, native landscapes provide reduced overall cost, reduced maintenance, reduced water needs, reduced stormwater runoff, increased water infiltration, suppression of invasive species, and increased resilience to climate changes.

The solution is simple!  Plant native, save the planet, and enjoy a landscape full of life and beauty!