Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Ecosystem Design Group

Research Portfolio

Prescribed Fire + Land Management
Over ten years of applied land management and research has been conducted to inform restoration practices, land operations and management, and the urban wildland interface. Mowing, brush clearing, and prescribed fire are all management tools available to the land owner. This project has found that many species can be controlled or encouraged depending on how and when management techniques are applied. Invasive species can be selectively removed, brush which could feed wildfires can be dramatically controlled, and native species restored.

Green Roofs in Hot Climates
The Ecosystem Design Group is currently conducting research testing the effectiveness and design for green roofs in hot climates. Although the building and environmental benefits of green roofs in temperate climates have been documented (building cooling, reduction of heat-island effect, stormwater mitigation), the investigation of similar benefits in other ecosystems have been somewhat neglected. In warmer, non-temperate regions where there are greater climatic extremes such as high temperatures and frequent flash floods, green roofs may offer relatively larger intrinsic and extrinsic benefits if they are designed correctly. Intrinsic benefits include cooling the building and extending the roof membrane lifetime; extrinsic include mitigating flash floods and reducing the heat island effect.

Sustainable Lawns
Turfgrasses have a wide range of applications for many constructed landscapes: roadsides, parks, corporate campuses, golf courses, utility rights-of-ways, and residential lawns. Turfgrasses, however, are often villainized as requiring high levels of nutrients, water, and maintenance. Five years of research by the Ecosystem Design Group demonstrated that selected native turfgrass species can replace the traditional lawn without requiring lots of water and pesticides. The result is fewer weeds, less fertilizer, less mowing, and the ability to provide habitat - the ecological lawn. Click here for information on HABITURF®, a product developed from this research.

Ecological Roadsides
With five years of research in native plant success and invasive species control along roadways the Ecosystem Design Group has developed strategies that work with varied regional climactic conditions and soil types. Some of these strategies include enriching soils with recycled low-nutrient organic matter and preventing unnecessary soil compaction. The result is vibrant vegetation that prevents erosion while reducing maintenance costs and contributing to a healthy ecosystem.

Weed Control without herbicides
There are many invasive species which threaten natural plant communities and their function because these non-natives aggressively compete for space or other resources. The Ecosystem Design Group's invasive plant research has demonstrated that carefully timed prescribed fire can reduce unwanted weeds without harming native (fire adapted) species. Additional research has also shown that adding native seed to existing invaded plant communities is an effective ecological way to reduce the impact of invasives while bolstering the biodiversity and protecting from future invasion.

© 2013 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center