Living Landscape Function Calculator


      The Living Landscape Function Calculator can be used to evaluate existing designed landscapes and aid in evaluating planned landscapes for a variety of ecosystem and landscape services. This would allow a science-based analysis of an existing designed landscape as well as provide a measurable way for designers to communicate the value of a wide range of landscape services to their clients. The calculator will provide ready access to a large detailed plant database and allow the designer to balance ecosystem function with landscape function in different areas of design.

      A collaborative effort between academic researchers, green industry professionals, and designers, the calculator includes a national database of plants and their characteristics to integrate ecological function and aesthetics in planting designs. The function calculator is similar to the Universal Quality Assessment Index, the expanded version of the Plant Stewardship Index. With several categories for ecological function and landscape function, an individual plant is considered on its collective services.  In addition, plants can be compared across a broad spectrum of qualities.

      In order to support this effort, Environmental Metrics Unlimited (EMU), a 501(c)3 nonprofit entity, was started in October 2017, in association with The Urban Affairs Coalition in Philadelphia. Environmental Metrics Unlimited, known as EMU, is a collaboration between Professor Douglas Tallamy, Landscape Architect Rich Darke and a team of landscape designers led by Christopher Sohnly (LA2015) and Nicole Jackson (HORT2017).

For more information contact Christopher at




The current work being done on the Living Landscape Function Calculator has the potential to allow people from horticulture, environmental, educational, and landscape architectural fields to have access to an operating system for the purpose of standardizing function in the landscape.


This tool can be the foundation of assisting in the inspiration of home owners to further their interests and actions related to sustainable landscapes. We at Cavano's Perennials have enjoyed working with folks involved with this project and supporting them in this endeavor.    



Taylor Pilker, Vice President

Cavano's Perennials Inc.  

 May 14, 2018