Living Landscape Function Calculator
Enchanted with both the beauty and complexity of plant communities, Christopher Sohnly, a graduate of Temple University’s Landscape Architecture program, owner and operator of Spruce Hollow Designs, was inspired by the plant tables in the back of The Living Landscape, by Douglas Tallamy and Rick Darke, published by Timber Press.
Having used the Bowman’s Hill Plant Stewardship Index (PSI) while doing research earning his undergraduate degree, he wondered if there was a similar metric for evaluating designed plantings. Not finding anything available and believing a metric was important he has begun development of a function calculator in collaboration with Dr. Douglas Tallamy.
The Living Landscape Function Calculator could 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 would 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.
Envisioned as a collaborative effort between academic researchers, green industry professionals, and designers, the calculator would include a database of plants and their characteristics to integrate ecological function and aesthetics in planting designs. The function calculator would be similar to the Universal Quality Assessment Index, the expanded version of the Plant Stewardship Index, and it will be available through a website. With eleven categories for ecological function and ten for landscape function, an individual plant is considered on its collective services. In addition, plants can be compared across a broad spectrum of qualities.
…we need to select the plants that are best at performing essential ecosystem functions within our built landscapes. Which plants are these? Enter the function calculator, the first tool designed specifically for landscape architects and designers to facilitate plant choice based on ecological function rather than simply aesthetics. The Function Calculator will be a game-changer that will enable us to achieve the sustainable relationship with our ecosystems that we so desperately need.
Dr. Doug Tallamy;
November 9, 2017