Richard Louv

Recipient of the Audubon Medal

Author of the International Bestseller Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder

From the Blog

21 Ways to Plant a Restorative City

During the first week of November, members of the American Society of Landscape Architects and their colleagues from around the country – over 5,000 strong – met at the San Diego Convention Center. Saving the world was somewhere on the agenda.

Could they be the group with the most influence on human habitat in the future, particularly when it comes to the connection between children and adults to the rest of nature? “Because of their training, landscape architects are big thinkers, or tend to be,” says my friend, Vicki Estrada, a landscape architect, urban designer, and president of Estrada Land Planning in San Diego.

Asked to speak at the conference, I offered a starter list of suggestions for how landscape architects, and the rest of us, could truly green our cities:

  1. Apply the Nature Principle: re-conceive your city as an engine of biodiversity and human health.
  2. Restore nearby nature and “create” new habitat: rebuild local food webs; encourage urban wildlife.
  3. Recognize and increase human-nature social capital, thereby creating healthier habitat for humans and other animals.
  4. Plant native species in your yard; create butterfly zones in your neighborhood; help build aHomegrown National Park*
  5. Create a De-central Park in every city. Button Parks, too.
  6. Establish new human/nature networks, including family nature clubs and green gyms.
  7. Connect the region with wildlife and humanlife corridors.
  8. Establish restorative transportation systems, including naturalized bike and pedestrian paths; quieter, more efficient public transit; shade parking areas with green roofs and/or solar panels.
  9. Challenge neighborhood CC&Rs and other barriers of law, regulation and rules.
  10. Adopt development policies favorable to green roofs, green walls, etc.
  11. Replace decaying shopping malls with urban ecovillages and natural park space.
  12. Create or retrofit homes as restorative habitats for humans and other species.
  13. Design and retrofit schools and libraries with biophilic design; green every schoolyard.
  14. Apply biophilic design to new housing and commercial developments.
  15. Weave nature into communities for older people, including assisted living homes.
  16. Create restorative workplaces that produce human energy.
  17. Encourage urban and suburban agriculture, from community gardens to vertical farms.
  18. Recognize and celebrate your urban bioregion’s natural identity.
  19. Establish a regional scorecard that includes the economic benefits of truly greening your city.
  20. Support a regional children and nature campaign; help build the New Nature Movement.
  21. Focus your city’s future envisioning process through the prism of nature: consider how planting the restorative city could reshape healthcare, education, law enforcement, redevelopment, tourism and other businesses.


C&NN Advisor Robin Moore’s guest blog: A New Role for Landscape Architecture
A column by Neal Peirce on
greenscaping cities, in Nation’s Cities Weekly
Recommended reading, including: Making Healthy Places, Bringing Nature Home, Biophilic Design, Moving the Classroom Outdoors, Wild in the City, The Nature Principle and Last Child in the Woods.
Recommended Film: The Nature of Cities, trailer.

To learn more: The Natural Learning Initiative and Children & Nature Network.
*The term comes from Douglas W. Tallamy, author of “Bringing Nature Home.”

Richard Louv is the author of THE NATURE PRINCIPLE: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder and LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Children and Nature Network.

Next post: A New Way to Shape Your Community’s Future?

Prev post: Do You Live in a Restorative City?


Check out the Green Hairstreak Project in San Francisco - restoring a vanishing ecosystem for a remaining population of Callophrys dumetorum.  Flooding a neighborhood with her host plant.  It seems to be working….

Brilliant!! I appreciate you for sharing 21 ways to plant a restorative city. I think for better promotion more people should know these ways. Thus I’ll refer these ways with others to aware them to plant a restorative city. Thanks

I appreciate you .. nice one thanks

This is an outstanding list! I’ve been an ardent fan of your work for a long time, as an early childhood educator and outdoor enthusiast. I currently work with the Biomimicry Institute, spreading the seeds of learning from nature about how to live better and more sustainably on our planet. It’s very inspiring to see so many formerly disparate threads weaving together to envision a healthier future!

Thanks for the starter list of suggestions for how landscape architects, and the rest of us, could truly green our cities.  It is very comprehensive and there are a lot of great ideas.  My favorite suggestion is number 4.

I wish more people would read what you are saying, and use it as inspiration to take action that supports natural spaces, rather than selling them to fund the building of more “structure”.

Very good list of suggestions, not only for landscape architects, and all others who took part in the San Diego convention center but also for everyone who cares for nature. Planting more trees also reduces global warming, which protects human beings against the industrial pollution..Advantages of growing more trees does not stop here…the list is never ending..

Add a new comment here


Email: (not shown)



Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Submit the word you see below: