Definition of ecological succession

Guiding the Rain: Aesthetic Form – Ecological Function
June 22, 2015 – 04:18 pm
The design of this Minneapolis landscape plans for a succession of dominant species.

by Daniel Peterson

I often see new landscapes that look great immediately after installation, and continue to thrive for five to ten years. Beyond those five to ten years, I find that a majority of landscapes, especially the plantings, look tired, thin, and lacking in vitality. When I first started working in the industry during the early 1990s, common practices included either installing a landscape and then planning on ‘re-installing’ the planting areas after a period of time, or selling intensive maintenance plans with the installation. A majority of designs often lacked forethought as to how the project would look and perform beyond five to ten years, or how the areas would look if not intensively managed.

One of the tools we designers have is expecting and using succession.Water management is a major concern given the 40 percent slope in the front yard. By assessing the different influencing environmental effects in and on the landscape we can improve the chance of success of landscape plantings.

Defining Succession

Webster’s dictionary defines succession basically as a group, type or series that succeeds or displaces another. The dictionary also defines ecologic succession as the process of change in an ecosystem brought about by the replacement of components of a community until a stable climax community is established. Succession is far more complex than either of these definitions.

Several groups and individuals have promoted ecological succession theories and models have been defined from the theories promoted. Here are a few of the theories that have been promoted over the past 100 years.

Four weeks after seeding, a variety of grasses have emerged in the keyline swales. Seeding a mix of grasses with similar growth patterns but different light preferences ensures good coverage.
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A term used in urban ecology, denoting the replacement of one dominant group or activity by another, following an More?ChaCha

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