Urban Landscaping – More than Beautification

Winchester First has rediscovered a decade old plan to add landscaping to key spots downtown. In 2010 the organization, then known as Winchester First, enlisted a landscape architecture firm to create the Image Improvement Plan. It identified key areas near downtown Winchester that could use some sprucing up. Instead of a comprehensive look, the plan focused on projects that could be done one-by-one. It was a task list focused on feasibility and benefit. 

Several projects have been crossed off the list – including updating the façade of the Economic Development Office and landscaping improvements to Heritage Park. This year, Winchester First board member Chad Walker decided to revisit the plan. The MSW Board is moving forward with “Rent-a-Center Property” at 103 N. Maple using a combination of public and private funds. 

Landscaping our urban areas does more than beautify them. The benefits to having greenery around is well known in both scientific and neighborly circles. The statistics here are from’s peer reviewed “Outside Our Doors” report. 

Although plans aren’t action, I am thankful someone had the foresight to create the Image Improvement Plan. These small projects are stepping stones towards an environmentally resilient Winchester. Removing pavement, amending soil, and planting trees will benefit our community for decades to come. The plan is a community resource that any person or organization can help implement. If you or your organization are interested in seeing more greenspace in downtown Winchester, please reach out to me.

In addition to looking nice, urban landscaping…

  • gets people moving. Adults are 3x as likely to be physically active when living in areas with more green space.
  • nurtures Cognitive Health. Natural areas stimulate our brains in ways that reduce depression and other mental illness.
  • helps students succeed. Greenspaces enhance learning through positive effects on attention capacity, impulse control, and overall cognitive development
  • fosters pride and community. Neighborhood common spaces enhances the ties of social ties among neighbors.
  • creates safer towns. Buildings with nature nearby experience 48% less property crime, and 56% less violent crime.
  • boosts building values. Trees and other landscaping increase property value significantly more than the cost of installing them.
  • increases commercial activity. Shoppers claim they are willing to spend up to 12% more in business districts with high-quality tree canopy. 
  • protects our natural resources. Natural infrastructure decreases the flow and filters stormwater runoff while inhibiting Urban Heat Island effects.