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Landscape Mitigation

Solar arrays are often located adjacent to unlike uses including rural residential developments. Although passive in nature they can be seen as an eyesore if they are in the direct viewshed of a residential property. With the growth of renewable energy nationwide comes a need to mitigate or obstruct the view of these facilities. There are several ways this can be achieved including, fencing, walls, and landscape.

Landscape has been used for hundreds of years to mitigate or guide one’s view. Most often plant material is simply arranged in a way to block an unwanted sight. An example of this would be evergreen trees enclosing a trash receptacle or utility box. However, given its size, a solar field takes a little more effort to mitigate. With the broad expanse of these facilities, it is much more important to think of the landscape as a part of the overall natural environment. Here the use of native material is of the utmost importance to allow the new plant material to bled in over time and begin to look like it is natural and not planned. For projects in the midwest, a mix of evergreen and deciduous material is selected based on the existing plant palette and screening needs. Oftentimes there is also consideration given to the sustainability of the plantings as they relate to the overall ecosystem. Many of the native plant selections are also an excellent source of food for both insects and birds, and provide needed opportunities for pollination. When done correctly, the plant material matures and the critical view towards the project starts to transform into a natural landscape perspective.

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