Prompted by an addition to expand the church, native landscaping is building a greater sense of community between nature and people to DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church in Naperville. Beginning in 2012, The Pizzo Group was contracted to redesign and rebuild the entire greenspace of the church. The landscape architects at ecology + vision, llc designed a planting plan using live plugs for the front entrance areas, raingarden, and parking lot. The rest was seeded by Pizzo & Associates, Ltd. “The front yard, with the savanna under the big trees on one side and the raingarden on the other, began blooming the first season and continues to impress visitors with the succession of colorful flowers throughout the growing season,” says church member Pat Clancy.
The site’s biggest challenges were poor post-construction soils that required amending and a retention basin in the back. The retention area held water for the first two years, but has been dry since then. “Just as we were getting used to the idea of having a pond and enjoying watching ducks paddle around with their young and the sandpiper dipping her beak for food, the water finally receded in August of 2014,” commented Clancy. We are still in the process of adjusting the planting choices for the changing conditions.
In 2015, the church enhanced the basin area with an Eagle Scout project. Steve Cooper, the religious education director, worked with the Scouts to research, design, and install a labyrinth. Newly cut paths have been mulched, allowing families to interact with the natural areas and giving places for children to run. All the native wildflowers have attracted wonderful insects. ”Collecting eggs and caterpillars for the children to observe, though done in a limited way before, has spread exponentially with the addition of more plants which provide food for larva and butterflies,” observed Clancy.
As the plantings mature and fill in, church members are enjoying all the beautiful benefits of a natural landscape.
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