All elements of health and well-being are important to Lancaster General Health. The meadow landscape of the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute reflects that philosophy. Early in the Cancer Institute’s design, LG Health made clear that “health” extends beyond medicine to include a healthy lifestyle and healthy environment. A primary objective of the natural design was to create a landscape that contributes to the health of our waters.
The landscape at the Cancer Institute plays a big part in improving the health of the larger watershed. In late May the Little Conestoga Watershed Alliance planted trees along Jacobs Creek, which borders these plantings.
In Lancaster County there are over 1,400 miles of streams and creeks. The Cancer Institute’s landscaped areas are designed to capture runoff and allow storm water to soak into the soil rather than carry it downstream. The plant species there were chosen because they develop deep roots – five or six feet deep in some cases -- that help water penetrate the soil. Modified soils have been used around the parking lots to further enhance infiltration.
When these species were originally planted in 2013, some asked: “Why not just use lawn grass in these areas?” Conventional lawns require fertilizer, fungicides and pesticides to continue to thrive and look healthy. Many of these chemicals quickly wash downstream and contribute to the high nutrient loads and toxins that deplete the health of our rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. The meadow plants at the Cancer Institute thrive in poor soil, and once established have required very little in the way of chemicals or fertilizers. Additionally, lawn grasses have shallow roots and provide minimal cover, so they are not as effective at slowing down runoff and encouraging infiltration into the soil.
The Cancer Institute’s meadow landscape is more than just a storm-water management system. It provides beauty and color through the seasons and attracts a diversity of birds and pollinators. The need for mowing and irrigation is minimal. And now that the landscape has grown beyond its infancy stage, patients and visitors to the Cancer Institute can enjoy these native meadow species.