Landscape Architects & Designers Breakout Sessions

These sessions provided through our valued partnership with:



Don't Miss the Opening Night Reception
Hosted by ILASLA
Sunday, January 13
Location: Medici, 120 W. North St, Normal, IL



NOTE: Each presentation listed below has been approved for 1.0 hours of LA CES credit in the areas of health, safety, and welfare.

Landscape Transformation:
Designing With Light

Drew Tedford
Sales Manager
FX Luminaire

 Drew Tedford

Low voltage outdoor lighting can be a viable solution for many project types including, residential, commercial, office, retail and hospitality.  In this course, participants will gain an understanding of the variety of applications of outdoor low voltage lighting and how certain design and installation techniques can enhance aesthetics, function and safety of the landscape environment.  


Maximizing Space for Tree Roots
in the Built Environment

Gary Watson
Lead Scientist, Arboriculture
The Morton Arboretum

 Gary Watson

Root systems naturally spread further than the branches with fine roots proliferating in soils near the surface where organic matter is high.  Structures in the built environment restrict root spread.  Soils are often compacted and paved over.  There is little opportunity for organic matter incorporation.  Limiting root development reduces tree growth and longevity.  The only place to expand root space is often under pavements.  To provide more root space for trees, the soil must be designed to keep the pavement from subsiding and allow for root growth at the same time. The pavement can also be supported with structure so the soil itself does not have to support the pavement.  Choice of pavement must also allow for penetration of water and oxygen to the roots beneath.  Best Management Practices are evolving as we learn more from research.  Higher installation costs will be balanced by longer-lived trees and the benefits they provide.

Reconnecting Trees to Soils
in Our Landscape

Chris Fields-Johnson
Technical Advisor

The Davey Tree Expert Company

Chris Fields-Johnson

Forest trees connect to soils through complex relationships with pore space, organic matter, minerals and microbial life. Urban trees often struggle when these relationships break down as a consequence of compaction and organic matter losses. We can reconnect trees with soils and reestablish these relationships through practices which loosen the soil and add organic materials. Topdressing, tillage and incorporation with air tools, vertical mulching, liquid injection, and backfilling are five methods of loosening soil while adding organic materials. Composts, mulches, biosolids, and biochars are four organic materials for use to increase organic matter. These materials feed the microbial food web, give the soil resilience to future compaction, provide nutrients to the trees, and protect the surface of the soil from erosion and crusting. Biochar has the unique property of also providing a means for long-term carbon sequestration. Proper practices will increase rainfall infiltration, soil water storage, and the penetration of air into the soil profile. Increased air penetration allows roots and microbes to grow deeper in the soil profile, effectively increasing the volume of soil available for growth. These practices will be described and illustrated in detail with an inside look at various techniques, experiments, and case studies. The advantages and disadvantages of each technique will be discussed. Urban trees can be made to function and thrive like forest trees with the right skills and tool kit.


Urban Surface Approaches for
Green Stormwater Infrastructures

Mary Pat McGuire, RLA
Asst. Professor of Landscape Architecture
University of Illinois

 Mary Pat McGuire
Across the Chicago urbanized region, rainwater, rather than infiltrating or sponging through the ground, lands on impervious surfaces (roofs, roads, sidewalks) and then drains to local waterways or to gray infrastructure (pipes, tunnels, treatment plants). Exacerbated by increased urbanization and climate change, this flow pattern creates basement backups, street flooding, combined sewer overflows into our waterways, and discharges into Lake Michigan. The issues of stormwater and urban flooding are rampant among communities across Illinois. This talk will discuss this issue, and will present current research for addressing this design challenge within the Calumet. With an understanding that our urban storm water challenges result from land cover changes that disrupt natural hydrology by hardening the landscape, I will share a science-based design research project to restore the lost functioning of the landscape. By studying near-surface geologic soils, our team is developing a hydro-geologic basis for green stormwater infrastructure design (GSI). The project integrates geologic studies, environmental modeling, and landscape architecture design to propose surface retrofit solutions for Calumet communities.

Successfully Designing Irrigation
Into the Landscape Now and
Into the Future

Dan Feick, RLA
FRS Design Group LLC



This course will talk about irrigation planning through all phases of design and installation.  It will also talk about larger sites that may be completed in phases and how that affects the design. We will talk about water collection and reuse, and the planning challenges associated with them.  LEED V.4 planning needs to start early in the design process.  We will cover how that affects design work.

Elements of a Healing Garden

Mark Dwyer
Director of Horticulture
Rotary Botanical Gardens

Mark Dwyer

Gardens have restorative value for wellness and healing. Utilizing particular features of design along with the use of engaging components and sensory stimulating plants, can create a wonderful space for passive recharging and active programming.