The Value Landscape Engineering (VLE) spreadsheet program identifies the costs, labor, water, fertilizers, pesticides, energy, and fuel required to install and maintain a residential or commercial landscape in Utah. The program also identifies the carbon footprint and particulates generated from landscape installation and maintenance activities. VLE considers all activities associated with a particular landscape over its life with the goal to maximize value and reduce required inputs. The VLE spreadsheet program tabulates all onsite costs, inputs, and impacts over the life of the landscape including preparing the site, purchasing and installing materials, annual maintenance and operations, and replacing landscape features and components that wear out or die. A variety of program options allow the user to select the planting and mulch materials and coverage, structures, irrigation systems, equipment, and to tailor the analysis to site-specific conditions. Users can simultaneously compare up to three different landscapes.
Data to support the spreadsheet program was gathered from the scientific literature, nurseries, websites of manufacturers and home building supply stores, extension publications, and landscape cost estimate reports. Cache Valley and Wasatch Front arborists, landscapers, and Cooperative Extension professionals also provided information specific to their expertise. Because urban landscapes are complex systems, the spreadsheet program makes several simplifying assumptions. Thus, spreadsheet program estimates of required inputs and impacts are accurate to within 30%. Users should verify cost estimates with bids from landscape companies. Given these estimation levels, use the spreadsheet program to compare the relative advantages and tradeoffs among different landscapes. We demonstrate use of the spreadsheet program for three landscapes at the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District (JVWCD) conservation garden. These landscapes are the Traditional Landscape that has a large area of cool-season turfgrass, shrubs, perennials, ground cover, and common shade trees; the Perennial Landscape that has mostly drought-tolerant perennials and annuals; and the Woodland Landscape that consists largely of drought-tolerant shrubs and trees. To verify spreadsheet program results, we compare spreadsheet program estimates of water, labor, fertilizer, and fuel use in each landscape to observations made over 8 years by JVWCD garden staff. Generally, spreadsheet program estimates and JVWCD staff observations agree within the 30% estimation level for the spreadsheet program. Homeowners, commercial property owners, and landscapers can use the spreadsheet program to identify the total costs, water use, and other required inputs for their landscape choices. The program can identify tradeoffs in costs, inputs, and impacts among an existing (or planned) landscape and modifications to it. By examining results and changing the landscape design, the user can develop a landscape plan that should cost less and require less water, labor, fertilizers, and other inputs.
The published version of the work is available at: Rosenberg, D. E., Kopp, K., Kratsch, H. A., Rupp, L., Johnson, P., and Kjelgren, R. (2011). "Value Landscape Engineering: Identifying Costs, Water Use, Labor, and Impacts to Support Landscape Choice." JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 47(3), 635-649. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1752-1688.2011.00530.x.
Description of file contents:
1) VLE_Manual_Sept2011.pdf: Model manual including quick start guide and directions to use the spreadsheet model
2) ModelDataFiles.zip: Zip folder with files for the different versions of the model.
3) FileDescriptions.txt: Explanation of files in ModelDataFiles.zip and list of model versions