The goal of all Earth-Kind® trial projects whether they are roses, Hydrangea, herbaceous perennials or vegetables is to evaluate their sustainability in the landscape. This implies that for the winners, superior plant performance is exhibited with little or no inputs of water, fertilizers, pesticides and labor. This goal of evaluating plants for sustainability, however, must be tailored to the plants in question because different varieties of plants exhibit different characteristics. An example would be the blooming habits of roses and Hydrangea. For roses, repeat bloom is an important characteristic needing to be examined whereas with Hydrangea the duration of bloom is necessary to evaluate. As a result protocols for data collection on plant performance are specific to the varieties in question.
Constant in ornamental Earth-Kind® trials is site preparation. The addition of 3”-4” of plant based compost incorporated to 8” in depth and the addition and maintenance of 3” of wood mulch on planting beds after planting is required of all Earth-Kind® projects. In addition, all trials are laid out in a random block design and are replicated a minimum of three times, giving more accurate data across a given site. Also another important constant in Earth-Kind® plant evaluation is trial location. Because the goal is to evaluate plants for their ability to adapt and perform regionally, all plants are trialed on multiple sites and preferably in multiple states. This allows the plant to be examined in various soil types and climates. Another aspect constant among Earth-Kind® trials (using perennial plants) is that they are given one season to establish before evaluation begins. This allows time for pesticides and fertilizers to dissipate from the plants giving a clearer look on how they perform without these products. All Earth-Kind® trials are evaluated three years after establishment.