University News

Horticulture Professor Develops Sustainable Landscaping Website

November 17, 2009

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MACOMB, IL -- "It all started with the idea that I could reduce the amount of mowing I was doing every week or so. I have a large backyard, and I spent well over an hour on a rider mower, keeping that grass well-kempt," wrote Marietta Loehrlein in her first blog post on her new website called "Sustainable Landscaping."

Loehrlein, a horticulture professor in Western Illinois University's School of Agriculture, developed the site as an instructional tool for a new Sustainable Landscaping Practices course she is teaching at Western. She noted the site includes an abundance of information -- from alternative energy and landscape equipment to creating wildlife habitat to pesticide use and recycled landscape materials -- and addresses a rapidly evolving area responding to environmental issues, including global climate change. The blog, she added, provides a way for her to share her personal experiences about practical landscaping application.

"I have not found a textbook on the topic appropriate for such a class," Loehrlein explained. "The technologies are developing very quickly, and our students need to learn about them before they get into the job market."

Loehrlein wanted to make the information for the course available not only to her students, but also to instructors at other universities and the general public. She decided to develop a website that could be used for teaching, one that would also serve as a tool students could use to learn more about the technologies discussed in her class.

"Getting a textbook published would take too long. Our students need this information now," said Loehrlein. "Many university classrooms already provide Internet access; this website will make it easier for both instructors and students to access the information in an organized manner," she added.

Loehrlein noted that while there are books, articles and websites devoted to one or another of the technologies, the Sustainable Landscaping website she created addresses all of the pertinent issues, providing a comprehensive resource for individuals, organizations and even municipalities.

"It is arranged like chapters in a book, and eventually it will have hands-on activities and problem sets designed for classroom use. Other topics covered on the site include irrigating with gray water, constructed wetlands and using plants to mitigate environmental factors, especially sun and wind," she added.

To support her development of the Sustainable Landscaping website, Loehrlein has been awarded a 2010 stipend from the WIU Foundation and Office of Sponsored Projects.

For more information, contact Loehrlein at (309) 298-1089 or Visit Sustainable Landscaping at

Posted By: Teresa Koltzenburg (
Office of University Communications & Marketing