Department of Crop Sciences

HORT 255 Multifuctional Landscapes

Imagine developing innovative landscape solutions to improve your environment and community

Through the U of I horticulture program, discover how to apply science and technology to improve basic landscape design and help sustain our world.

Multifunctional Landscapes (HORT 255), taught by Dr. Sarah Taylor Lovell, equips students with the basics of research and technology in sustainable and multifunctional landscapes. Students analyze landscapes based on their functions and the ecosystem services they provide, design small sites to address multiple functions, and synthesize contemporary research on landscape sustainability.

It is important, Lovell says, for students to recognize that the decisions they make in designing and managing landscapes have implications for the health of ecosystems. “I strive to teach them to recognize the wide range of functions that landscapes can serve and to apply what they learn in transforming outdoor spaces.”

Because hands-on learning is a must for mastering landscape design and sustainability, Lovell’s course is project-based. One project is assessing an existing landscape to map its various functions. In another, students design a landscape to integrate wide-ranging functions: food production, stormwater management, wildlife habitat, recreation, and more. Their final project introduces research and education functions—they develop a design that could be installed on campus to test one or more multifunctional landscape concepts while also serving as a demonstration for visitors.

Ultimately, students who take HORT 255 have the knowledge to integrate functions into the landscape that will improve environmental and human health in the long term.

“While students enrolled in this course may come from many disciplines,” Lovell said, “all are likely to be involved in decision-making in regard to the landscape at some point, whether in broader governmental policies, in their local communities, or in their own backyards.”