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Corporate Landscaping Lets Its Hair Down

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At its former headquarters in eastern Pennsylvania, Air Products had a neatly manicured lawn and boxwood hedges. But when the industrial gases company moved to nearby Allentown recently and erected a new office building, it tried something different.

Rather than plant grass that would need constant watering, mowing and fertilizing, it turned to native plants that pretty much took care of themselves. Today, shoulder-high grasses wave in the wind and attract wildlife.

“One plant had yellow finches all around it,” said Patrick J. Garay, vice president of strategic projects at Air Products.

Forget the fuss. Corporate landscapes are going natural these days.

The shift — mirroring what’s happening at public parks, on university campuses and in homeowners’ backyards — is being driven by a growing awareness of the environmental costs of installing and maintaining lawns, clipped hedges and tidy flower borders. New laws ban the use of water for “useless” grass in drought-prone areas, and company sustainability programs encompass the land the buildings sit on. Apps calculate the…

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