Sustainable landscape design can be found at the Arboretum

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, October 2, 2019

By Patricia Drackett

Director, The Crosby Arboretum, Mississippi State University
Assistant Extension Professor of Landscape Architecture

This Saturday, October 5, the Arboretum will hold two informative programs to help you to make wise decisions in maintaining your home grounds and planning your landscaping projects. Learn proven methods for conserving resources and labor, and create eco-friendly home landscapes in “Sustainable Home Landscaping”, and “Native Plants for Home Gardens”, with Pearl River County Extension Agent Dr. Eddie Smith and Arboretum director Pat Drackett.

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Sustainable landscaping methods aim to reduce the need for resources, such as water or chemicals (fertilizers and pesticides), or energy (i.e., gasoline or labor) to install and maintain your landscape. These practices will allow you to spend that time doing more enjoyable activities and keep more of your hard-earned money!

Native plants suited to their region offer low-maintenance alternatives to ornamental species. But plants in general will require less maintenance if they are properly located. Matching a plant to the conditions it prefers will help reduce or even eliminate the need for water and care in times of drought.

An expensive practice by home gardeners is the widespread use of bagged bark mulches. Many of us rake leaves from our lawn in the fall, but instead of adding these to a compost pile where they will break down and later be used to mulch garden beds or amend soil, we bag them up and leave them by the curb.

Then, we buy expensive and often color-treated bagged mulch, made from bark that will actually rob nitrogen from your soil, which is needed to break down the lignin fibers in the wood.

Seasoned gardeners know how valuable yard waste is. In fact, many delight to discover your bags of leaves sitting by the curb. Consider the fact that these smart gardeners benefited greatly, as someone else supplied the labor to rake and package the valuable yard waste for them to use!

On October 5, attend the Smart Landscapes program on “Sustainable Home Landscaping” with Pearl River County Extension Agent Dr. Eddie Smith from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. with. The program is free to members and $5 for non-members. From 11:00 a.m. to Noon, Arboretum Director Pat Drackett will present “Native Plants for Home Gardens”, and discuss methods for creating durable, useful, and attractive native plant species to help you reduce your property’s landscape maintenance needs. This program is $2 for members and $5 for non-members.

Beginning the first week of October, our “Walk with the Scarecrows” will be featured along the pathways. The public is invited to participate by creating a scarecrow representing you, your organization, or your business. Scarecrows go up between October 4 through 6.  For information or a registration form, contact Nickie Smith at<>, call 601-799-2311, see our website, or message us on Facebook.

from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m on October 5, learn about “Semi-precious Stones: Origins and History”, in an introduction to the fascinating history, origin, and cultural uses of semi-precious stones with Connie Boyd of Unique Stones. Members $2; non-members $5. Connie will be leading a wire-wrapped jewelry workshop on Saturday, November 2. For more information, see the program calendar on our website.  Call the Arboretum office to sign up.

On October 12, attend our 5K “Run Through the Forest” trail run. Whether you’re a runner or a walker, an adult or a child, you will enjoy this early morning run through the beautiful grounds. Check-in/registration begins at 7:30 and run begins promptly at 8:00 a.m. Entry fee of $30 includes a T-shirt. Register on-line on the Arboretum website. To register, become a sponsor, or make a donation, please contact Nickie Smith.

On October 12 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., come to “Music Under the Pines”, an open mic night on the Pinecote Pavilion. Call to reserve your 15 minute time slot, or join the audience and kick back for an evening featuring talented local musicians and singers. Coffee, tea, and desserts will be served at this free community event.

To sign up for programs, please call 601-799-2311. Stop in to see the Arboretum’s fall gallery exhibit, photography by Jenny Bibb Ryals. Don’t forget to mark your calendar to come learn more about butterflies and other insects at the Arboretum’s two-day Bugfest, an extravaganza of all things buggy, October 18 and 19 (Friday and Saturday).

For more information, please see our Facebook page, or the calendar on our website at Our public garden is located at 370 Ridge Road in Picayune, at I-59 Exit 4, and open Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 to 4:30. Leashed pets are always welcome!