[Federal Register Volume 60, Number 154 (Thursday, August 10, 1995)]
[Pages 40837-40841]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 95-19795]



Office of the Federal Environmental Executive; Guidance for 
Presidential Memorandum on Environmentally and Economically Beneficial 
Landscape Practices on Federal Landscaped Grounds

AGENCY: Office of the Federal Environmental Executive, EPA.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: This document announces guidance developed by the interagency 
workgroup under the direction of the Federal Environmental Executive to 
assist federal agencies in the implementation of environmentally and 
economically beneficial landscape practices. This guidance is in 
response to the requirements of the executive memorandum on 
Environmentally and Economically Beneficial Landscape Practices on 
Federal Landscaped Grounds.


SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On April 26, 1994, the President issued a 
memorandum to Federal agencies addressing landscape management 
practices on federal landscaped grounds. In developing the implementing 
guidance, the Federal Environmental Executive sought public comment 
through a Federal Register ``Notice, Review & Comment.'' This guidance, 
as written by the interagency taskforce, represents the culmination of 
discussions among interested parties, industry and government, and the 
responses to the Federal Register Notice.1

    \1\  Federal Register, Vol. 59, No. 161, Monday August 22, 1994. 
The Executive Memorandum was incorporated and printed in the Notice, 
Review & Comment.

    The principles identified here provide a framework for the use of 
environmentally and economically beneficial landscape practices on 
managed federal lands and federally-funded projects. They are meant to 
improve and expand upon current principles of landscape design, 
implementation and management. They are intended to assist in federal 
planning and decision-making and can be incorporated into federal 
agency guidance/policy for landscape management practices.
    As identified in the memorandum the guidance focuses on 5 (five) 
guiding principles: (1) Use regionally native plants (see definition 
below) for landscaping; (2) Design, use or promote construction 
practices that minimize adverse effects on the natural habitat; (3) 
Seek to prevent pollution; (4) Implement water and energy efficient 
practices; (5) Create outdoor demonstration projects.
    This guidance is intended to promote principles of ``sustainable 
landscape design and management'' which recognizes the interconnection 
of natural resources, human resources, site design, building design, 
energy management, water supply, waste prevention, and facility 
maintenance and operation. In general, sustainable design embodies the 
concept that,

* * * human civilization is an integral part of the natural world 
and that nature must be preserved and perpetuated if the human 
community is to sustain itself indefinitely.2

    \2\  p. 4, Guiding Principles of Sustainable Design, U.S. 
Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Denver Service 
Center, September 1993.

Sustainable landscape management seeks to minimize impact on the 
environment and maximize the value received for the dollars expended.
    Sustainable landscape design is economically beneficial in its 
principle of evaluating and optimizing the full life-cycle of products 
and processes: cost is considered from initial design through the life 
of the project. For example, although sustainable site design and 
development may have a higher initial cost, it may prove economical 
over the life of the project. 

[[Page 40838]]
In this example, a well-designed and implemented plan can result in 
healthier, longer-lived plantings which rely less on pesticides and 
fertilizers, minimize water use, require less maintenance, and increase 
erosion control. Sustainable landscape design considers the 
characteristics of the site and soil, intended effect and use of the 
developed area, in addition to the selection of plants.
    It is not the intent of this guidance to supersede federal agency 
directives, policy, or other guidance which relate to the mission of 
that agency or to health and safety concerns. It is not intended to 
supersede agency objectives or guiding principles such as those 
pertaining to the National Park Service's four primary management 
zones--natural, cultural, park development, special use--and their 
subzones; or those pertaining to the Forest Service's National 
Hierarchy and Recreation Opportunity Spectrum classification systems. 
Finally, this guidance does not advocate replacement of existing 
landscapes, unless it is cost-effective to do so.

Intent of Guiding Principles

    The following describes the intent of the implementing guidance and 
discusses opportunities for federal initiatives. These opportunities 
are not all-inclusive and federal agencies are encouraged to 
investigate other initiatives for environmentally and economically 
beneficial landscaping practices.
1. Use Regionally Native Plants for Landscaping

    In the selection of plants for managed federal lands and federally-
funded projects, the federal government has the opportunity to choose 
plants which are aesthetically pleasing, require minimal care, and 
reflect a ``sense of place,'' i.e. the physical, or symbolic 
representations of a community or area. By carefully selecting the 
``right plants for the right place'' and matching plant characteristics 
to site and soil conditions, federal agencies can promote sustainable 
landscapes. Characteristics of sustainable landscapes include: 
minimizing water use, reducing the need for pesticides and fertilizers, 
reducing maintenance costs, utilizing hardy plants, and increasing 
erosion control. Where the appropriate conditions exist, regionally 
native plants offer the advantages of natural adaptation to the 
climatic and geologic environments. In addition, use of regionally 
native plants can promote regional identity, and enhance wildlife 
habitat and biodiversity.

2. Design, Use or Promote Construction Practices That Minimize Adverse 
Effects on the Natural Habitat

    Construction practices can adversely affect and alter natural and 
other habitat. Federal projects can be sited, designed, and constructed 
to minimize that impact. Federal agencies can incorporate elements of 
sustainable design into their architectural and engineering plans and 
specifications for projects planned, designed, and constructed by 
federal agency or contractor personnel.
    Structures can be integrated with the existing plant and animal 
communities and cultural (human) environments. Considerations include 
such elements as: ecology of the site; human factors (i.e. historic 
issues, mission, adjacent land use, and local culture, neighboring 
communities); water/energy use; pollution prevention and other special 
    Impact on existing vegetation can be minimized by protecting and 
integrating plants into the site design. Analyses of the soil and 
subsurface material are important to the later success of existing and 
future plantings. These analyses can also indicate the existence of 
toxic or other undesirable material.
    Additional beneficial construction practices which minimize adverse 
impacts to natural habitat include the proper disposal of construction 
waste and debris such as paints and other chemicals, concrete, and 
other building material.

3. Seek to Prevent Pollution

    Pollution prevention is a national policy and one of the principles 
of sustainable landscape management. The primary tenet is: whenever 
feasible, pollution should be prevented or reduced at the source, and 
where pollution cannot be prevented, it should be recycled in an 
environmentally safe manner. Executive Order 12856, ``Federal 
Compliance with Right-to-Know Laws and Pollution Prevention 
Requirements'' was issued to ensure that

* * * all Federal agencies conduct their facility management and 
acquisition activities so that, to the maximum extent practicable, 
the quantity of toxic chemicals entering any wastestream, including 
any releases to the environment, is reduced as expeditiously as 
possible through source reduction; that waste that is generated is 
recycled to the maximum extent practicable; and that any wastes 
remaining are stored, treated or disposed of in a manner protective 
of public health and the environment * * * 3

    \3\ Executive Order 12856 of August 3, 1993 ``Federal Compliance 
with Right-to-Know Laws and Pollution Prevention Requirements'', 
Federal Register Vol. 58, No. 150, Friday, August 6, 1993.

In keeping with the executive order and the principles of sustainable 
landscapes practices, the following initiatives have been identified as 
having a salutary effect on landscape management.
Manage Pesticides and Fertilizers
    The improper use of pesticides and fertilizers contributes to the 
pollution of both surface and groundwater in the United States. Using 
effective landscape management practices, and appropriate application 
of pesticides and fertilizers, federal agencies may minimize that 
impact on water quality as well as to other aspects of the environment.
    Further, federal agencies may better manage soil amendments and 
fertilizers by utilizing soil and plant tissue samples analyses which 
can indicate soil deficiencies and nutrient use. The recommended method 
of managing pests and pesticides is called Integrated Pest Management 
or IPM as described below.
    Through the use of appropriate control measures and proper 
application, IPM can result in a reduction in the use of chemicals 
contained in pesticides which may adversely impact human health and the 
environment. Integrated Pest Management is a decision-making process 
which considers cultural, mechanical, biological, and chemical controls 
of pests. Control mechanisms are selected as each situation warrants. 
Where chemical control is used, specific pest populations are targeted 
when they are most vulnerable rather than indiscriminate application of 
these chemicals.
Minimize Runoff
    Uncontrolled runoff adversely impacts the environment: (1) As a 
major contributor to soil erosion; and (2) the primary vehicle for 
chemical pollutants to be introduced into the environment (particularly 
non-point source runoff). Federal agencies can ameliorate adverse 
impacts associated with run-off through a variety of preventative 
mechanisms: physical; vegetative, and operational. For example, grasses 
have been demonstrated to be a viable mechanism for minimizing run-off 
and controlling soil erosion. A viable method of managing the 
pollutants associated with the first flush of stormwater run-off is 
bioretention of the storm water in an appropriately landscaped area. 

[[Page 40839]]

Recycle Landscape Trimmings
    Federal agencies have the opportunity to effect both good landscape 
management practices and good waste management practices by recycling 
and using recycled landscape trimmings. A significant portion of what 
is treated as waste is comprised of leaves, grass clippings, plant 
trimmings, and woody material. These elements are a desirable resource 
for composted material, mulches, and landscape amendments. By using 
these products, federal agencies can effectively and economically 
enrich the soil, promote plant growth, preserve soil moisture, reduce 
erosion, and inhibit weed growth.

4. Implement Water and Energy Efficient Practices

    Irrigating lawns and landscapes can account for a significant 
proportion of total water use, particularly during peak watering 
season. Reducing the inefficient irrigation of lawns and landscapes 
with potable water can reduce water cost, and the energy usage/cost 
associated with water pumping. In addition, water use efficiency can 
relieve the increasing demand being placed on water resources, 
distribution systems, and wastewater treatment systems.
    Federal facilities can effectively reduce water use and conserve 
potable water through a number of practices. For example, water usage 
can be reduced through the use of mulches and careful selection and 
siting of plants. Plants adapted to local conditions can be selected so 
supplemental water will not be required after an initial establishment 
period of 3-5 years. Other water-efficient landscape practices include: 
determining the water requirements for discrete water-use zones; using 
and maintaining efficient irrigation systems; and watering only as 
needed. A water-efficient and cost-effective manner of irrigation which 
is becoming increasingly popular, where available, is the use of 
recycled or reclaimed water.
    Recent legislation, as well as recent executive orders, reflect the 
federal government's commitment to energy and water conservation. 
Water-efficient landscape practices contribute two-fold: first, to the 
conservation of fresh, potable water; and second, to the conservation 
of energy associated with the distribution and treatment of water. 
Landscape practices may also directly impact energy conservation by 
siting plants to provide shade and cooling to paved surfaces and 
building structures resulting in reduced building cooling loads. 
Conversely, plants may also be sited such that they optimize solar heat 
gain and inhibit heat loss during cooler periods to reduce building 
heating loads.
    To assist agencies in meeting the energy and water conservation 
requirements mandated by the Energy Policy Act of 1992 [Public Law 102-
486, October 24, 1992], the Department of Energy was directed to 
establish the Federal Energy Efficiency Fund. Administered by the 
Federal Energy Management Program office, the fund provides grants to 
agencies for energy and water conserving projects. Grant proposals are 
competitively assessed for their technical and economic effectiveness. 
Water conserving landscapes are eligible to compete for grants under 
this fund.
5. Create Outdoor Demonstration Projects

    Landscape demonstration projects promote public awareness and 
education and can be a catalyst for similar initiatives by the general 
public as well as other governmental agencies. They can also aid in the 
development and expansion of beneficial techniques and technologies. 
Outdoor demonstration projects are an effective method of promoting and 
sharing information about environmentally sensitive landscape 
approaches and the use of environmentally and economically beneficial 
landscape practices. Outdoor demonstration projects can also showcase 
partnership opportunities among industry, academia, and other 
governmental agencies. Cooperative agreements can assist in the 
development of technologies and techniques in such areas as recycled or 
reclaimed water use.

Other Initiatives

    To further promote and demonstrate that environmentally beneficial 
practices can be both beautiful and economical, the Executive 
Memorandum identified a number of initiatives. These include: (1) The 
establishment of annual awards to recognize outstanding efforts in site 
design, and development, landscaping management practices of agencies 
and individual employees; and (2) the requirement for the Department of 
Agriculture to conduct research on the sustainability, propagation and 
use of native plants.
 Establishment of Annual Award
    The Office of the Federal Environmental Executive in conjunction 
with the Department of Energy's Federal Energy Management Program 
(FEMP), has established an annual award recognizing outstanding efforts 
by agencies and individual employees in the demonstration of beneficial 
landscape management practices. This annual award has been incorporated 
into FEMP's Annual Federal Energy and Water Conservation Award Program. 
In October 1995, the winners of the first annual Beneficial Landscape 
Practices award will be announced.
 Research by the Department of Agriculture in Cooperation With 
Other Agencies on Suitability, Propagation and Use of Native Plants for 
    As identified in the National Performance Review, Accompanying 
Report: Reinventing Environmental Management, barriers to the use of 
native plants include: limited availability of native plants; lack of 
knowledge about the use, maintenance, and propagation of native plants; 
the more prevalent use of exotic species; and the spread of invasive 
exotics. The U.S. Department of Agriculture possesses experience and 
expertise in the development of plants, management of federal lands, 
and conservation of soils. By working with other federal agencies, 
universities, botanic gardens, arboreta, and commercial nurseries, the 
USDA's Agricultural Research Service and Natural Resource and 
Conservation Service can further the use of native plant species in the 
landscape. In addition, the USDA has been directed to make information 
available to agencies and the public on the suitability, propagation 
and use of native plants for landscaping.



    These guidelines are meant to assist Federal decision-making at the 
agency and facility level. Where cost effective and to the maximum 
extent practicable, they shall be incorporated into agency guidance and 
policy and reflected in agency landscape management practices, site 
design, and development. These guidelines apply to decisions regarding 
landscape management practices, site design, and development on Federal 
grounds and at Federal projects in any state of the United States, the 
District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American 
Samoa, the United States Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, 
and any other territory or possession over which the United States has 
jurisdiction. Federal facilities located outside the customs territory 

[[Page 40840]]
the United States and Federal agencies at overseas U.S. facilities are 
encouraged to abide by the principles set forth in the Executive 
Memorandum and these guidelines. Where Federal funding is provided to 
support landscaping projects on non-federal lands, these guidelines 
shall also apply.
    The policies and recommendations set out in this document are not 
final action, but are intended solely as interpretive guidance for 
implementation of the Executive Memorandum on Environmentally and 
Economically Beneficial Landscape Practices on Federal Landscape 
Grounds by affected Federal government agencies. This Guidance does not 
supersede Federal agency policies or directives or established 
regulation. Nothing in this document shall create any right or benefit, 
substantive or procedural, enforceable by any party against the United 
States, its agencies or instrumentalities, its officers or employees, 
or any other person.


Native Plant

    A native plant species is one that occurs naturally in a particular 
region, ecosystem and/or habitat without direct or indirect human 

    A pesticide is ``any substance or mixture of substances: (a) For 
preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest, or (b) for 
use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant.'' [FIFRA Section 


    A pest is ``(1) any insect, rodent, nematode, fungus, weed, or (2) 
any other form of terrestrial or aquatic plant or animal life or virus, 
bacteria, or other micro-organism (except viruses, bacteria, or other 
micro-organisms on or in living man or other living animals) which the 
Administrator declares to be a pest.'' [FIFRA Section 2 (t)]

Compliance With the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) provides a mandate and 
a framework for federal agencies to consider all reasonably foreseeable 
environmental effects of their actions. Where Federal projects or 
federally-funded activities or projects considered in the NEPA process 
include landscape considerations, draft and final NEPA documentation 
and Record of Decision for the proposed action and alternatives, as 
applicable, shall reflect the recommendations established in this 

1. Use of Regionally Native Plants for Landscaping

    Federal agencies, Federal projects or federally-funded projects, 
shall incorporate regionally native plants in site design and 
implementation where cost-effective and to the maximum extent 
practicable. Federal agencies shall strive to avoid or minimize adverse 
impacts of proposed actions or projects on existing communities of 
native plants.
    Federal agencies shall ensure that the appropriate site and soil 
analyses are performed during pre-design stages of the project. To aid 
in proper plant selection and to ensure success of the plantings, 
analyses should match plant characteristics with site and soil 
conditions. Site design and implementation as well as plant selection 
shall incorporate such considerations as their biological needs, 
minimal plant care, low water use, and minimal need for fertilizers and 
    Plants selected shall be in character with the project site plant 
communities. Those plants selected for Federal landscape projects or 
federally-funded landscape projects shall be nursery propagated from 
sources as close as practicable to the project area. Native plants 
collected from existing indigenous populations shall not be used unless 
they are salvaged from an area where they would otherwise be destroyed 
in the near-term. Where native plant seeds are to be used for federal 
projects, they should be unadulterated by other plant species. Federal 
agencies should ensure that appropriate actions are taken to support 
the success of native plant species used for Federal or federally-
funded landscaping projects.

2. Design, Use, or Promote Construction Practices That Minimize Adverse 
Impacts on the Natural Habitat

    Federal agencies, Federal projects or federally-funded projects 
shall avoid or minimize adverse impacts to natural habitat. During 
preliminary selection of sites for Federal or federally-funded 
projects, Federal agencies shall avoid sites which are relatively 
undisturbed. If such areas cannot be avoided, Federal agencies should 
employ construction practices and procedures which minimize adverse 
impacts to natural habitat and incorporate existing vegetation and 
associated natural habitat into the project. Where new projects require 
use of a relatively undisturbed site, site clearing and preparation 
should be limited in order to prevent unnecessary adverse impacts. 
Where adverse impacts to natural habitat occur as a result of Federal 
or federally-funded projects, Federal agencies shall mitigate impacts 
to natural habitat on-site where feasible. On-site and off-site 
compensatory mitigation shall fully reflect lost natural habitat 
    Federal site design and development should consider: environmental 
elements, human factors, context, sustainability, and pertinent special 
issues. Development of the site should include assessments of the soil 
and subsurface material.
    Project decision-makers, including designers, contract supervisors, 
contractors, field inspectors, site or facility master planners, and 
maintenance personnel shall either be knowledgeable of or informed of 
likely project related impacts to natural habitat. Where existing 
plantings are incorporated into the site design, they shall be 
adequately protected from construction activities. Project plans and 
specifications shall include explicit direction regarding construction 
practices to meet the goals of this guidance. On-site project managers 
and contractors shall ensure that practices which minimize impacts to 
natural habitat are followed during project construction. Such 
practices may include site management to control soil erosion and non-
point source run-off and proper disposal of construction material and 
debris. Where practicable, personnel responsible for on-site 
construction practices, including contractors and construction 
inspectors, shall be knowledgeable about natural habitat resources.

3. Seek to Prevent Pollution

    Federal agencies, Federal projects or federally-funded projects 
shall use chemical management practices which reduce or eliminate 
pollution associated with the use of chemical fertilizers and 
pesticides. Wherever practicable, Federal agencies shall employ 
practices which avoid or minimize the need for using fertilizers and 
pesticides. These practices include, but are not limited to: selection 
of plant species that do not require chemical fertilizers and 
pesticides; use of landscape management products and practices that 
limit growth of ``weed'' species; use of integrated pest management 
techniques and practices; use of chemical pesticides which biodegrade, 
and use of slow-release fertilizers.
    Federal agencies shall recycle and/or compost leaves, grass 
clippings, and landscape trimmings for further use as both soil 
amendments and mulches. Woody debris such as tree trunks, 

[[Page 40841]]
stumps, limbs, etc., resulting from federally-funded activities shall 
also be recycled as appropriate.
    Federal agencies shall use landscape management practices, 
including plant selection and placement, which control and minimize 
soil erosion, runoff of chemicals, and pollution of groundwater. 
Federal agencies shall also consider energy and water conservation 
benefits in the siting and selection of plants.
    Federal agencies and facilities subject to the requirements of 
Executive Order 12856 shall identify those chemicals used at their 
facilities for landscape management and develop alternative landscape 
management practices to reduce or eliminate the use of those chemicals.

4. Implement Water and Energy Efficient Landscape Practices

    Federal agencies, Federal projects or federally-funded projects, 
shall use water-efficient landscape design and management practices. 
These practices (such as Xeriscape) shall include planning and 
designing landscaping projects with consideration to: watering 
requirements, existing vegetation, topography, climate, intended use of 
the property and water-use zones. In addition, facility managers shall 
conduct soil analyses and, as appropriate, amend the soil at the 
project site to improve its ability to support plants and retain water. 
Initial site design as well as the addition of plants in established 
areas shall seek to establish water-use zones and promote efficient 
irrigation practices.
    Where irrigation systems have been installed, irrigation scheduling 
should be adjusted seasonally to the evapo-transpiration rate (ET) for 
the plants in that particular climate.
    Irrigation with recycled or reclaimed water, where practicable, 
shall serve as a preferred alternative to the use of potable water. 
Finally, Federal agencies and facilities, Federal projects and 
federally-funded projects, are encouraged to use water audits to 
identify additional opportunities for water-efficient landscape 

5. Create Outdoor Demonstration Projects

    Federal agencies, Federal projects or federally-funded projects, 
shall create and maintain outdoor demonstration projects exhibiting and 
promoting the benefits of economically and environmentally sound 
landscaping practices. These exhibits may include the selection and use 
of native plant species and the use of water-efficient and energy-
conserving practices. Exhibits may include small scale projects, such 
as interpretive or wildlife gardens, that focus on environmentally 
sound landscape management practices, site design, and development 
appropriate for residential, commercial, and institutional application. 
Additionally, demonstration projects may highlight larger projects, 
such as wetland or grassland restoration or woodland rehabilitation, 
that are more likely implemented by groups or state and local 
governments. Federal agencies are encouraged to form public/private 
partnerships with groups such as educational institutions, arboreta, 
commercial nurseries, botanic gardens and garden clubs, to advance the 
goals of the Executive Memorandum. Federal agencies are encouraged to 
work with and share information with other interested nonfederal 
parties to promote the use of environmentally and economically sound 
landscaping practices.

Fran McPoland,
Federal Environmental Executive.
[FR Doc. 95-19795 Filed 8-9-95; 8:45 am]