Signage

RainScaping Education Station (faux house, upper right) & variety of RainScaping signs
A variety of RainScaping signs

Value of interpretive signs

Interpretive signs are essential to communicate the purpose and value of conservation landscaping to the commu-nity. At the Chesapeake Ecology Center (CEC), and other project locations, we enhance the nature experience by providing on-site information through signage, which increases the public’s understanding of conservation landscaping and helps to empower their participation. Interpretive signs leverage our ability to provide information and inspiration by allowing visitors to take self-guided tours of the CEC’s Native Plant Demonstration Gardens and Groves; and they assist us in the numerous guided tours we provide.

To produce interpretive signs, groups often needlessly reinvent the wheel and incur expenses which are often hard to cover on limited budgets.  In order to assist groups in producing and acquiring interpretive signs for demonstration conservation landscapes, we have included downloadable CEC signs (below) and sign production information. We have also included four forestry signs, thanks to the generous contribution of the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks. These signs can be used for ideas and inspiration to produce your own signs.

If signs are used largely as is, please do not remove or change the size or position of the current logo and website address. You may, however, add your logo and website address, which shouldn’t be larger than the current logo and website address. 

Notably, we do not have the authority to give permission to change signs posted on this page that are produced by the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks, and the PCA Alien Plant Working Group.  These downloadable signs (below) include:  Forest Layers, Forest Deciduous, Forest Succession, Snag, and Invasive Plants.

We will continue to add to this page: improved CEC interpretive signs; signs that are in the public domain; signs for which permission for usage can be obtained; and information on sign production and costs. We encourage you to provide comments, identify, and supply material. We also encourage organizations to provide links on their respective websites to these resource materials and information. Downloadable signs and signage information on this page was made possible by support from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grants Program, and donated contributions over several years of development by the CEC.

Interpretation tells a story and brings meaning and interest to a subject for the education and enjoyment of the visitor. It does more than just provide facts. Environmental interpretation to produce signage, aka wayside exhibits, involves translating the technical language of the natural science field and conservation landscaping into terms and ideas in interesting and entertaining ways that the lay public can readily understand. Because they are located outdoors, close to the features they interpret, interpretive signs/wayside exhibits can readily answer the questions visitors have—when they have them. By engaging visitors at the times and places they want information, the visitors’ experiences can be made more meaningful and much more rewarding.

Several methods of producing interpretive signs are available. Of these methods, the one best suited to a particular situation depends on a variety of factors, for example: cost; appearance/suitability for the site; what environmental conditions the signs will be exposed to; whether the information presented will need to be changed or updated periodically; and vandalism.


Questions to consider in developing and evaluating interpretive signs

  • Is the sign intriguing and imaginative? Does it capture the visitor’s attention? Does the sign communicate in innovative ways?
  • Is the sign informative? Does it convey meaningful information or new knowledge about the subject matter?  Is the sign too wordy?  Notably, signs should primarily contain images and have limited text.  For additional information, a website can be referenced.
  • Does the sign influence viewers to change their attitudes or behavior?
  • Does the sign encourage involvement and inspire viewers to take action?

Instructions for producing a low-cost, outdoor interpretive sign panel

Laminated vinyl signs are typically low-cost and are suitable for outdoors. The average lifespan is 10 years or more (signs placed in the shade will last longer).

  • To produce a sign, work with a graphic designer (generally at a cost of $50 to $75 per hour), who uses graphic design programs to layout the sign and provides an electronic document.  If you have some basic graphic design knowledge, you may be able to layout the sign yourself.
  • Once an electronic file is finalized and saved as a PDF, the next step is to have a sign company make a physical sign, per your specifications regarding the material it’s printed on and mounting specifications. For example, 16″ x 20″ signs (such as the Rain Garden Sign on this page) are mounted on 1/2″ thick sintra PVC board. The process involves producing a vinyl ink jet appliqué that is laminated, then applied to a substrate.  There are many different kinds of substrates the laminated vinyl can be applied to, for example:  1/4” to 1/2” thick sintra PVC board; 1/2” thick plywood with an MDO smooth finish; sign blank—which is thin metal (e.g., no parking signs); coroplast (corrugated plastic); etc.  A spray-on inhibitor is used for standard signs to increase durability.  Signs can also be laminated with extra UV inhibitor mylar film.

1-2-15 PHOTOS-Sign Installation at CEC

Constructing a base to hold the interpretive sign panel, for a waist-high angled outdoor sign 

  • Vinyl signs attached to a substrate panel, can be attached to a 4″ x 4″ pressure treated post that is 40″ long. The top of the post should be cut at a 30 degree angle.
  • Then attach a small plywood base, that is (approximately) 6” square and 1/2″ thick, to the angled top of the post using screws.
  • Next, attach the sign panel to the plywood base with clear silicon adhesive. For added stability, short screws can be added underneath the 6” square base and screwed up into the panel which the vinyl sign is applied to (but short enough not to pierce the sign). (Sign panels can be removed from the base by unscrewing and prying the silicon adhesive loose with a putty knife.)
  • Use a 24” metal post stake (used for mail box installation, etc.) to anchor the post in the ground (purchased at True Value Hardware, Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc.).
  • Optional:  Some of the CEC signs have “Take One” handout boxes (purchased at office supply stores) attached to the front of the posts underneath the top.

Cost of sign components

  • Example: 16″ x 20″ laminated vinyl appliqué, approx. $40 to $50 (per square foot cost is generally $25 to $35)
  • Example: 16″ x 20″ sintra PVC board that is 1/2″ or 13 mm thick, approx. $30
  • Wood post and sign base (pressure treated), approx. $10 – $15
  • 24” metal post stake, approx. $15
  • Handout box (optional), approx. $12 – $15

Total approximate cost for a 16″ x 20″ waist-high angled outdoor sign (not including design or installation costs) is $100 to $120.


Downloadable signs

These signs can be used for both indoor and outdoor displays. Indoor signs are typically laminated paper, while outdoor signs are typically laminated vinyl which is applied to a substrate such as sintra PVC board.  Files are only available in PDF format.

If signs are used largely as is, please do not remove or change the size or position of the current logo and website address. You may, however, add your logo and website address, which shouldn’t be larger than the current logo and website address. 

Notably, we do not have the authority to give permission to change signs posted on this page that are produced by the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks, and the PCA Alien Plant Working Group.  These signs include:  Forest Layers, Forest Deciduous, Forest Succession, Snag, and Invasive Plants.

A-SIGN_Native_Trees_Shrubs_16x20_237_KB

A-SIGN_Native_Trees_Shrubs_16x20_18_MB


B-SIGN_Rain_Gardens_16x20_96_KB

B-SIGN_Rain_Gardens_16x20_5.38_MB


rainbarrel_16x20_31809.indd

C-SIGN_Rain_Barrels_16x20_11.3_MB


D-SIGN_Permeable_Pavers_16X20_109_KB

D-SIGN_Permeable_Pavers_16X20_13.63_MB


E-SIGN_Living_Shorelines_16x20_110_KB

E-SIGN_Living_Shorelines_16x20_4.08_MB


F-SIGN_Conservation_Landscaping_16x20_12.6_MB.pdf - Adobe Reader 952010 62317 PM

F-SIGN_Conservation_Landscaping_16x20_12.6_MB


G-SIGN_Xeriscaping_16x20_134_KB

G-SIGN_Xeriscaping_16x20_8.85_MB


H-SIGN_Meadow_16x20_231_KB

H-SIGN_Meadow_16x20_12.6_MB


I-SIGN_Wildlife_16x20_221_KB

I-SIGN_Wildlife_16x20_13_MB


J-SIGN_Dragonfly_Garden_16 x 20_170_KB

J-SIGN_Dragonfly_Garden_16 x 20


K-SIGN_Redbud_Row-and_Dogwood_Grove_16 x 20_226_KB

K-SIGN_Redbud_Row-and_Dogwood_Grove_16 x 20


L-SIGN_Waterman's_Garden_16x20_121_KB

L-SIGN_Waterman’s_Garden_16x20_7.52_MB


M-SIGN_Composting_16x20_131_KB

M-SIGN_Composting_16x20_202_KB


N-SIGN_Forest_Layers_22.57x34.57_204_KB

N-SIGN_Forest_Layers_22.57×34.57_2.19_MB


O-SIGN_Forest_Deciduous_22.51x34.51_214_KB

O-SIGN_Forest_Deciduous_22.51×34.51_2.42_MB


P-Forest_Succession_22.51x34.93_232_KB

P-SIGN-Forest_Succession_22.51×34.93


Q-SIGN_Snag_22.51x34.93_96_KB

Q-SIGN_Snag_22.51×34.93_2 (2)


R-SIGN_Invasive_Plants_22x28_263_KB

R-SIGN_Invasive_Plants_22x28_3.56_MB


Additional RainScaping Signs

RC-RainScaping Before&After_450x707 (8-30-10)

SIGN_Before&After_21x33_4.41_MB


xSIGN_RES_Rectangle_2_21x33_2.1_MB

SIGN_RES_Solutions_House_21x33_11.8_MB_hirez


21x33RES1

SIGN_RES_Works_Everywhere_21x33_10.4_MB_hirez


SIGN_RainScaping_Solutions_House_16x20_7.36_MB


SIGN_RainScaping_Works_Everywhere_16x20_6.74_MB