Livable Ecosystems: A Model for Suburbia

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 1.54.08 PM.png


Livable Ecosystems: A Model for Suburbia


Susan Barton


This 27 page color brochure includes a description of the four major ecosystem services provided by natural systems and essential to humans. They are clean water, fresh air, wildlife and human wellness. The brochure goes on to describe how suburban landscapes can be landscaped to provide these services. Additional sections include instructions for installing a rain garden, planting a windbreak, planting a forest, managing a meadow and planting a butterfly garden.

Learning goals for the item

Learning goals include:
1. Raise awareness that humans are responsible for creating/managing landscapes that provide ecosystem services since "natural areas" that provided those services in the past are being rapidly developed.
2. Understand the methodology involved in planning and installing various types of non-traditional suburban landscapes.
3. Select native plants to attract butterflies rather than the invasive species, butterfly bush.

Appropriate audience

Homeowners are the primary audience. Students at the high school or college level might also find this information useful.

A list of credits (if appropriate)

Susan Barton, University of Delaware Gary Schwetz, Delaware Center for Horticulture

Project participants:
Valann Budischak, University of Delaware Jen Gochenaur, Delaware Nature Society Faith Kuehn,
Delaware Department of Agriculture
Photographs provided by:
Susan Barton Rick Darke Gary Schwetz
Graphic design by:
Carrie Finnie
Funding provided by:
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through the Delaware Estuary Grants Program

Supported by:
Delaware Center for Horticulture, Delaware Department of Agriculture, Delaware Invasive Species
Council, Delaware Nursery and Landscape Assoc.,
University of Delaware

A list of references (key references - cited or suggested)

Barton, S.S. and R.S. Pineo. 2009. Human Benefits of Green Spaces. UD Cooperative Extension, Sustainable Landscape Series. manwellness/Human_Benefits.pdf. 17 May, 2011. Benefits of

Trees In Urban Areas, 17 May 2011. Cramer, Steve. Planting to Conserve Energy, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, g/Trees/conserve.htm , 17 May 2011.

de Groot, R. S., Wilson, M. A., & Boumans, R.M. J. (2002). A typology for the classification, description and valuation of ecosystem functions, goods and services. Ecological Economics, 41(3), 393-408.

Kuhns, Michael. Planting Trees for Energy Conservation: The Right Tree in the Right Place, Utah State University., 17 May 2011.

Lyle, John Tillman.1999. Design for Human Ecosystems: Landscape, Land Use, and Natural Resources. Island Press.

Tallamy, Douglas W. 2009. Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife With Native Plants. Timber Press.

Keywords (separate keywords or phrases with a comma)

ecosystem services, clean water, clean air, wildlife habitat, human wellness, rain gardens, water management, meadow construction, planting a forest, windbreaks, butterfly gardens, changing suburbia,

Review Summary

Livable Ecosystems:  A Model for Suburbia is a Cooperative Extension brochure organized around the four major ecosystem services provided by a successful landscape—clean water, fresh air, wildlife habitat and human wellness.  For each ecosystem service, it provides specific landscape design and management suggestions that will help provide that service.  It is very well written and easy to follow. Reviewers can see the value to northern areas and climates similar to Delaware. The second half of the publication includes specific recommendations for installing and managing a rain garden, windbreak, forest, meadow, and butterfly garden.  Plants that attract butterflies are listed and charts are included with species of butterflies and their larval food sources.  The final paragraph explains why butterfly bush should not be included in a butterfly garden.  Images and graphics illustrate concepts discussed in the publication throughout. 

Social Bookmarking



“Livable Ecosystems: A Model for Suburbia,” ASHS HortIM™, accessed July 16, 2019,


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.