Articles about Environment and Planning

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Charlotte's tree canopy is under threat — and we all have a role to play in saving it
   September 26, 2022
Ely Portillo

Jane Singleton MyersCharlotte loves its trees. But are we willing to do all that we can to save them? 

That's the paradoxical question confronting Jane Singleton Myers, executive director of TreesCharlotte. The city's iconic tree canopy has shrunk from 49% to 45% coverage...

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Charlotte's changing climate, with Brad Panovich
   September 12, 2022
Ely Portillo

From seemingly endless heat waves in the west to catastrophic floods from Kentucky to Pakistan, a drumbeat of extreme weather has dominated the news this summer. In Charlotte, it can feel like we’re not on the front lines of climate change — we’re not on the coast watching sea levels...

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Unruly plants and passionate attraction in a Charlotte garden
   September 8, 2022
Ruth Ann Grissom

I love playing matchmaker in my garden. I introduce plants that will be compatible in terms of color, texture and form. As with humans, the best relationships achieve a balance of contrast and harmony. For example, I paired little bluestem and rattlesnake master because they share the same blue foliage, but one is coarse and strappy while the other is refined and upright. These arranged...

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What's the future of hip-hop architecture in Charlotte?
   August 11, 2022
Ely Portillo

Charlotte’s seen rapid growth over the past several decades, but many say that boom has come at the cost of inclusivity and, perhaps, even a bit of the city’s soul. With the loss of many historic buildings and without much of an identifiable design vernacular — aside, perhaps, from the profusion of five-story apartment buildings — Charlotte’s even been accused of looking and feeling bland....

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Milkweed for monarchs? The answer isn’t so simple
   August 10, 2022
Ruth Ann Grissom

The message seems to be getting out — monarchs need milkweed. The charismatic orange and black butterflies seek nectar on a wide variety of flowers, but their caterpillars feed on no other plant. And that appears to be where the clarity ends. Even after planting and managing for several of the 16 milkweed species native to North Carolina, I was still perplexed by the monarch’s preferences and...

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Try the ‘bucket of doom’ to eliminate mosquitoes without harmful pesticides
   July 15, 2022
Ruth Ann Grissom

Bucket of Doom. A slasher movie from the 1970s? The latest season of Fortnite? No, but for many homeowners, it might be something equally thrilling – an effective, inexpensive and safe way to control mosquitos. 

Five-gallon buckets are often a source of standing water where mosquitos can breed. This simple idea turns that around so the humble bucket becomes your ally in the fight for...

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Rediscovering an overlooked native plant: Ninebarks
   June 17, 2022
Ruth Ann Grissom

Plant obsessions can run in different directions. Some plant lovers amass a deep collection of a single species – say, iris, roses or hostas. Others go wide — they want one of everything. I’m definitely on the wide end of that spectrum, but I’m moving toward the center. I’ve come to appreciate how a mass underplanting of Southern shield ferns brings cohesion to a shrub border and how a wavy...

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Why uptown and University City want to grow more like each other
   June 14, 2022
Ely Portillo

As COVID-19 fades from the front pages but normalcy still hovers out of reach, Charlotte’s two biggest employment centers want to resemble each other a bit more in the decades to come.

On the surface, University City (a sprawling, suburban landscape dominated by cul-de-sacs, strip shopping centers, the university campus and office parks) doesn’t seem to have much in common with...

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Bark-devouring beetles are killing Charlotte's greenway ash trees
   June 13, 2022

Amber Veverka

This story originally appeared in the Charlotte Ledger business newsletter, and is reproduced here with permission. 

The start of summer beckons in the region’s extensive greenways, but Mecklenburg County’s publicly owned green spaces are under attack from a half-inch-long insect that’s turning whole areas of our urban forest...

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Ghost Tales of the Uwharries
   May 25, 2022
Ruth Ann Grissom

It was a warm, late-April evening in the Uwharries. Conditions seemed auspicious. The skies were clear, and the wind was calm. The moon wouldn’t rise until the wee hours. At dusk, my husband and I threw some camp chairs and a cooler into the bed of the truck. We drove halfway up the mountain near the house, navigating by our parking lights. The tree canopy enclosed the narrow, abandoned road....

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