Principle: A flawed residential site should be restored to a healthy environment.

Many residential landscapes have been severely altered from their once natural state and are degraded environments, though they may not always appear that way. The most obvious impaired sites are the barren landscapes found around newly con­structed homes in recently developed subdivisions. In worst-case scenarios, these sites are covered only with bare earth left behind by the developer. Furthermore, the indigenous landscape that might have originally existed on this land may have been displaced many years ago for agricultural fields. Thus, true “nature” has long been absent.

Less obvious altered landscapes also exist on residential sites where prevailing lawn and foundation planting are present. Though green and “landscaped,” such sites often suffer from poor soil, lack of plant diversity, minimal wildlife habitat, and a maintenance practice fed by chemical fertilizers and pesticides (Figure 3—8). In addi­tion, spoiled landscapes exist in older urban sites that have undergone years of poor management or neglect. Toxic materials in the soil and/or in the structural materials contribute to blight in other residential landscapes.

Consequently, the challenge with many residential sites is not to preserve the ex­isting natural setting, but rather to restore the site to an improved, flourishing state. The theoretical ideal is to rehabilitate a flawed landscape to the natural condition it was in before development, though realistically this is often not possible or even desir­able. The damaged site can and should, however, be restored to a healthy, sustainable

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Figure 3-7

Wildlife habitats should be as large as possible and interconnected to each other.

condition that is a viable place for people, flora, and fauna. This goal is best accom­plished in two general phases. First, all the problems and inappropriate materials found on the site must be corrected or removed, as discussed next. Second, the site must be redesigned based on sustainable principles presented throughout this chapter.